Yesterday James Stock put his World Cup predictions out for everyone to see. For him, there is no going back now. Today, is the second in the series of Experts’ Predictions: Tom Herring of Galvanised Media steps up to the plate. You can find out more about Tom in my “Meet the Experts” piece, or just read on and see what he thinks.
For the men’s competition it’s hard to look past the top five of the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, England and Belgium.
The competition is set up so that the top two from each group qualify for the semi finals. Group A sees Australia, Belgium and England competing for the two semi-final places. Australia will win that group, with England coming second.
In Group B, the challenge for Germany and the Netherlands will come from Argentina and New Zealand. I think they’re both some way off and the Netherlands will win the group with Germany coming second.
At home, and after their victory at the inaugural World League, the Dutch have got to be favourites. The Verga-Van Ass incident which, at least to outside observers, threatened to cause massive disruption to team unity has been negotiated. As long as Mink van der Weerden continues to be on top form with his flicking, I would put the Netherlands as winners, beating Australia in the final.
The Aussies will be looking to send Ric Charlesworth off with another World Cup victory and will certainly be looking to improve upon their poor showing at the World League Finals. I think they, and the Netherlands, will stand out above the other teams and will collect the silver medal.
The 3rd/4th playoff is a lot harder to predict. Germany will be without their star man, Moritz Furste. He is one of the few players in world hockey whose importance to the team is such that in the key matches, he often plays nearly a full game. Germany losing him cannot be understated. They’re reigning Olympic and European champions and always seem to pull out the big performances when it matters, but I’m going to say they’ll get beaten by England for the bronze medal. You might accuse me of showing blind bias by picking England for the third place, but I have a feeling they may just do it. England have struggled to find consistency over the last year or so, but have put themselves into positions to win matches regularly. Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton have been playing very deep recently, with Nick Catlin playing in front of them. Providing those three stay fit, they are good enough to win any match for their side.
Belgium have climbed rapidly over the last few years, up the rankings, but I wonder if teams have begun to work them out and, I think they might miss out.
My top five:
Top Scorer: Mink van der Weerden, I think his goals will fire the Netherlands to the title.
As with the men, I think there are five teams in with a chance. Argentina, Netherlands, England, Germany and Australia.
In Group A, there are unlikely to be any shocks, with Australia and the Netherlands qualifying for the semi finals. Only New Zealand have the potential to upset those two, but will struggle to do so in a six team pool.
In Group B, the tougher of the two, Argentina will win the group, with England and Germany battling it out for second spot. Germany have the knack of performing in the big tournaments, as proven when they came from nowhere to win the European Championship last year, but I think England will take the second spot to advance to the semi finals.
The Netherlands were hurt after missing out on the final of the European Championships following their semi final defeat at the hands of Maddie Hinch-inspired England. Captain Maartje Paumen remained on the pitch in disbelief long after the stadium had emptied. After that match, I think the complacency that was clearly in the Dutch team’s minds has been eradicated. They then went and comfortably won the World League to put them back where they believe they belong. In front of their home fans, they will win gold.
Argentina have struggled to get back to their pre-Olympic heights, but on their day have the players to play some exciting attacking hockey and still have Luciana Aymar driving them forward.
I think Australia will claim the bronze medal. They are probably the most improved side in world hockey at the moment and seem to have the measure of England in recent times. With their corner battery, they always have the potential to score.
England have performed brilliantly at their last 2 tournaments to claim bronze and silver, but at both tournaments relied massively on the brilliant Hinch in the penalty shootouts. Their young players are getting more and more experience and if this is the tournament where the likes of Lily Owsley come of age, they could progress further, however I feel that the World Cup may come too soon.
My top five:
Top scorer – Maartje Paumen – Exactly the same as with the men, the premier flicker will fire her team to the gold.
So there you have it. Tom has had his say, why not have yours? Leave a comment below, or Tweet me @TheTopoftheD. More expert predictions will follow this afternoon.