The second day of the Hero Honda World Cup should throw up an interesting bunch of matches, with the draw of the day being the second match, between defending champions Germany and Asian giants South Korea. Germany have been building their team for the last two years and have come with a side of young players.
It will be interesting to see how they perform against South Korea, who are tough to beat. It will be a match of contrasting styles and it remains to be seen how Germany cope with the speed and agility of the Koreans. One thing that’ll weigh in Germany’s favour will be their superior tactical strength. They know how to regulate the pace according to the situation and they stick to the coach’s strategy come what may.
The Koreans are at par with the best in terms of speed, skill and agility, and if one talks about fitness, they are right at the top.
The other interesting match should be between the Netherlands and Argentina, which I expect the Dutch to win. The player to watch out for is the vastly experienced Teun de Nooijer. He is one who can make the difference between winning and losing because he plays skillful hockey, feeds the ball well, can score goals and also force penalty corners.
In the past 20 years, The Netherlands have emerged as a very consistent side, who play big events like the Olympics and World Cup well. Though they lost a practice match to India, they haven’t played all their cards and are definitely the hot the favourites to corner glory.
Argentina are physical in their playing style and bring a lot of football tactics, like the long ball, hit-and-run tactics, etc. Though not too skillful, they are very difficult to get past.
The first match of the day, between Canada and New Zealand, should be a do-or-die contest, because being the weakest teams in the pool, the sides will look to notch up full points. Both teams appear to be equal and a draw seems to be the likely result.
Playing on the newly laid surface at the Dhyan Chand Stadium can be difficult as the ball is expected to bounce and slip and players will have to adapt quickly. However, performing at this level, they are highly skilled and can get over these small hurdles.