Euro Hockey League Final Four: Preview, Part 2.

The Top of the D has already taken a look at the first semi-final of this weekend’s Euro Hockey League, now it is time to look ahead to the all-Dutch encounter between Bloemendaal and Amsterdam H&BC.

Bloemendaal.

Results in EHL 2012/2013.
R1 (Pool G) vs. Lille MHC W: 7-2.
R1 (Pool G) vs. Lisnagarvey HC W: 3-0.
KO16 vs. Club de Campo W: 6-1.
KO8 vs. Beeston HC W: 4-1.

Bloemendaal will hope they can recapture the title they won in 2009 with a strong showing in front of their home fans this weekend. As you’d expect for a side that finished second in the Hoofdklasse during the regular season Bloemendaal’s line-up oozes quality. They still have to overcome Kampong in the playoffs to secure the final qualification place for next season’s EHL but they will be focussed on their clash with Amsterdam this weekend.

Having swept aside Lille in their first game with a comfortable 7-2 win they endured a frustrating match against a stubborn Lisnagarvey side who kept the Dutch at bay until 12 minutes from time, Bloemendaal eventually running out 3-0 winners to book a place in the KO16.

Against a Club de Campo side featuring reigning FIH World Player of the Year Moritz Fürste the Dutch masters turned on the style, battering Campo 6-1 with goals from Chris Ciriello (2), Roel Bovendeert, Stijn Jolie, Rogier Hofman, and Wouter Jolie. Two further goals from Ciriello helped Bloemendaal to overcome Beeston in the KO8 with a 4-1 win to maintain their momentum and ensure they are a team few would want to face in the Final Four.

Key Players.

De NooijerRoel Bovendeert and Chris Ciriello have four goals each to their names, making them Bloemendaal’s joint top scorers in this season’s competition. Ciriello’s goals have all come from penalty corners and Bovendeert’s have all come from open play, proving that Bloemendaal can threaten any side from anywhere.

Of course, no mention of this team can be complete without some focus falling on Teun de Nooijer. One of the greatest players of all time, he has announced he will retire come the end of this season. It would be fitting for such a celebrated legend to go out by lifting the EHL in front of his home fans. His eye for goal, outrageous technical skills and tireless work ethic make him as likely as anyone to help inspire his team to that goal.

Amsterdam H&BC.

Results in EHL 2012/2013.
R1 (Pool A) vs. Beeston HC L: 5-4
R1 (Pool A) vs. Grunwald Poznan D: 2-2
KO16 vs. Atlétic Terrassa W: 2-1
KO8 vs. Berliner HC W: 3-2

It’s been a strange season for Amsterdam, missing out on the Hoofdklasse playoffs having finished in fifth place and struggling their way through the pool phase of the EHL with a draw and defeat, it’s hardly been a vintage year for the Dutch side. However, that said, their displays in the KO16 and KO8 rounds gave them and their fans some welcome relief from their domestic struggles. Penalty corner goals from Robert Tigges and Taeke Takema overcame Spanish side Atlétic Terrassa in a tense game of cat and mouse in the KO16. Against German side Berliner in KO8, Amsterdam came from behind to win 3-2 with goals from Mirco Pruyser (2) and Santi Freixa.

Despite turning in what they may feel is a below par set of results this season, Amsterdam have managed to overcome the reigning champions of Spain and Germany en route to the Final Four, showing they have the capability to beat the best on their day.

Their team contains some outstanding talent in Floris Evers, Santi Freixa, Billy Bakker, Robert Tigges, Roc Oliva, Valentin Verga and of course Takema. Simply put, there is enough quality in the Amsterdam ranks to ensure they have a chance of reaching the final this weekend.

Key Players.

TakemaBilly Bakker is the Amsterdam captain and an Olympic medallist who plays a big part in making his side tick as an attacking force. An eye for goal and some outrageous technical skills allowing him to provide chances for his teammates. Bakker is a potential matchwinner for his team.

Despite suggestions he is not the weapon he once was, Taeke Takema has scored four times in this season’s competition, making him his team’s top goalscorer. He may be using a modified technique due to a creaking body, but as he proved against Terrassa, he can still be relied upon to come up with the goods when it matters most. As always, set pieces play a vital part of any big games; Takema could silence those naysayers with yet more important goals this weekend.

As with the first semi-final, this game promises to be a spectacular encounter between two exciting sides that have a traditional, fierce rivalry. Who will come out on top in the clash of these Dutch Titans? Find out on Saturday by logging on to the EHL Website.

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