My dear friends!
Just some moments before the start of the Olympic Games we all look forward to live once again, the biggest event that any lover of our sport can experience. Like the Hockey World Cup, the Olympics are held only every four years, which makes the wait and expectations even higher.
We are still in shock (at least in my perspective) for what we experienced 2 years ago in “The Haag” with an Australian team that was close to perfection and that no other team could face. For those who do not remember their stats, I will remind you of them:
7 Played // 7 Wins // 0 Losses // 0 Draws // 30 GF // 3 GA
The team to beat: “Australia”
The squads have been able to work for two years to try to overcome the close to perfect team and soon we will see if someone will be able to beat Australia in the world’s most important hockey event.
I will pick three fundamental characteristics of the Australia of two years ago: aggressiveness in pressure, resilience of possession and physical superiority. It is evident that all these strengths are related and I am waiting to see how their rivals will face these challenges.
It is true circumstances will be different, probably the change in format from 2×35 to 4×15 will make physical differences less noticeable as compared to two years ago, and everyone will have studied and worked to minimize the strengths of the Kookaburras.
From my point of view I expect to see teams with a much more dynamic construction to avoid the aggressive Australian pressure, equipped with very open structures where the speed of the ball and the exchange of positions must be present because these may be the keys to solving some of the fundamental issues that all teams encountered in WC2014 “The Haag”.
The last point that favors the rivals of Australia is the new format, a format that from my point of view will determine potential surprises in some of the quarterfinal matches. The fact that quarterfinals mark the beginning of the end of the Olympic tournament will generate added pressure, stress and a tremendous responsibility, especially for teams with high rankings.
The protagonists: “The Players”
Finally we must talk about the real protagonists of the Olympics, the athletes. In this sense I think we will see the culmination and climax of the new profile of a TOP player in the international scene.
Players with the ability to adapt to the different responsibilities of the game, midfielders with offensive and defensive deployment, ability to lead the entire pace of the game, to perform in various key positions in the team, (center midfielders, free defense, sweeper…) names like Hauke, Van der Horst, Moritz Fürste, Mark Knowles will come to mind for all of us, but possibly there will be new stars with similar profiles, which from my point of view, will set the trend of the TOP player for the next few years. My guess of names, which I hope I am correct and would make me very happy, is that players like Manel Terraza or Matías Rey could be part of this type of players that nowadays are able to determine the success or failure of a team. (Possibly in each national team we will see players of this profile and those are the players that may determine the performance of their teams in these Olympics).
My Wishes and Predictions:
In a traditional format we could almost ensure that Australia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany, Argentina and Belgium will compete for the semifinal spots, but as mentioned before no one should miss the day of the quarterfinals in these Olympic Games. The key day!
I would not want to say goodbye without wishing the best of luck in the world to my national team, and especially and particularly to those who have been my players during these four years and whom I feel so proud of: “Mane”, “Salvita”, David, Mario, Xavi, Alex, “Matí” and Lucas… I would dream of a Spain – Argentina final, which may be very difficult, but we are going to experience the Olympic Games where dreams often come true, so I encourage everyone to enjoy and especially…”dream”.
Carlos Garcia Cuenca