Rio Olympics Field Hockey Preview
No.1 ranked Australia are the current favourites to take out gold at the Rio Games and will be hoping for a repeat of the form that saw the Kookaburras win the recent Champions Trophy in a penalty shoot-out against India to bring up their 14th Champions Trophy title. Experience won’t be an issue for Australia with captain Mark Knowles, and Jamie Dwyer appearing at their fourth Games, but their ability to reach and then win the gold medal match of an Olympics campaign remains a concern. They’ve finished with a medal in the last 6 Olympics – 4 bronze, 1 silver and 1 gold. The Wolf won’t rule out a swansong for Knowles and Dwyer, but both the Netherlands and Germany represent better value on the big stage.
The Netherlands are currently ranked No.2 in the world behind Australia and have won 9 medals including 2 gold medals at the Olympic games. They’ve finished runner-up in two of the last three Olympic games including 2012 London where they went down 2-1 to Germany. The Netherlands went through the group stage in London undefeated, thrashed Great Britain 9-2 in the semi-final before the Germans got the better of them in the gold medal match. Germany and the Netherlands will be in the same group again at Rio and The Wolf believes the winner of their clash will top the group and will progress to take on Australia for the gold medal.
In saying that, Germany look great value at $5.50 to take the gold medal for a third consecutive Olympic games. The Germans beat Spain 1-0 in Beijing and followed up the success of 2008 with a 2-1 win against the Netherlands in London 2012. They finished third in the recent Champions Trophy after draws with both India and Belgium and a 4-3 loss to Australia hurt their chances of progressing to the final. However, Germany led the tournament with 18 goals, with Marco Miltkau taking Top Goalscorer honours, while 2013 FIH Player Of The Year Tobias Hauke was named Player Of The Tournament. The Germans have the composure and strike power to win a third straight gold medal and look over the odds here.
The Netherlands and Argentina have been the dominant forces of women’s hockey since its inception at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Argentina have finished on the podium in the last four Olympics, while the Netherlands have won gold in the last two games in Beijing and London and have finished no worse than third since Atlanta 1996.
It’s been a lean period for the Hockeyroos since their golden run in Atlanta and Sydney, finishing no better than 5th in the last three editions of the Olympics and a bronze medal is the best they will do in Rio.
The Wolf is predicting a repeat of the gold medal match in London in which the Netherlands won 2-0 but isn’t completely ruling out “Las Leonas, who won the recent Champions Trophy for a record seventh time after defeating the Netherlands 2-1. Argentina’s captain Carla Rebecchi was the Top Goalscorer and also named Player Of The Tournament and she’ll need to deliver in Rio after the retirement of eight-time FIH Player Of The Year winner Luciana Aymar, also known as “The Maradona of Field Hockey”
The No.1 ranked Netherlands were missing their captain Maartje Paumen through injury at the Champions Trophy and the two-time FIH Player Of The Year’s return in Rio will be invaluable as the Dutch aim for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
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