HWL: Men who matter

HWL: Men who matter

Here's a look at how think stand at the Hockey World League Final

Pool A: Argentina, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain.

Pool B: India, Australia, Germany, England.

Format: In each pool, teams will battle each other in round-robin phase before advancing to the cross-over quarterfinals  with the  first-placed team in Pool 'A' taking on the last-placed team of Pool 'B' and vice-versa.

TEAMS

Argentina: Surprised the fraternity when they landed the gold at the Rio Olympics. Under coach Carlos Chapa Retegui, the Los Leones have attained a brutal edge to their hard-working style to rise to No 1 in the world. They look solid in all departments and start as one of the favourites.

Belgium: The Red Lions are the most improved side over the last five years and would be keen to avenge the defeat at Rio Games to Argentina. Disciplined at defence and extremely clinical on the counter-attack, the Belgians can be a treat to watch and they would be eager serve up another goal-fest.

The Netherlands: The inaugural champions have some exceptional players who can make the city turn Orange! Playmakers Billy Bakker and Robbert Kemperman can create chances at will while striker Mirco Pruijser is quite potent. Mink van der Weerden, one of the top drag-flickers in the world, adds more teeth.

Spain: The lowest ranked (9) in the competition, nothing much is expected from the Red Sticks. They have a squad loaded with experience and would be banking on the seasoned players to pull off a coup.

India: While many feel India are in this tournament as mere hosts, they certainly have the talent to stage a surprise. Many players from the Junior World Cup winning side have been picked with and eye on the future. If they can show some discipline and nerve towards the end they can test the biggies.

Australia: By their own lofty standards, the defending champions have had a rough year and a half. They finished sixth at Rio, their worst performance since 1960. The Kookaburras, though, can never be discounted.

Germany: The Germans, just like the Australians, are going through a transitional phase. But stars Tobias Hauke, Florian Fuchs and Martin Haner return and with some young blood in the ranks, they certainly can land the spoils.

England: Perennial underdogs England view this tournament as a great chance to land an elusive major FIH gold. They've always been impressive in the group phase but have slipped in the knockouts. If they can keep their act together, a surprise could be on the cards.

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