The biggest prize in Men’s hockey alongside the Olympics, the Hockey World Cup, returns in the coming weeks with the 14th edition of the four-yearly event kicking off at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India in late November.
Following the example of the Women’s tournament in England this summer, an extended field of 16 teams will compete for the trophy across four pools followed by a crossover round, quarter and semi-finals and the championship match on December 16th.
Here’s what, and who, to look out for in each pool:
Olympic Champions Argentina will open the tournament against two-time runners up Spain on the 29th November, in a group that also contains New Zealand and France.
Argentina are the betting favourites at Evens to win the pool, though they finished a disappointing fourth in June’s Champions Trophy after being tipped to challenge. France are seen as the weak link in this group, so Spain and New Zealand will be expected to compete for second and third place, each of which will earn qualification for the crossover ties.
Prediction: 1) Argentina, 2) Spain, 3) New Zealand, 4) France
Pool B sees three-time winners and defending champions Australia do battle alongside England, Ireland and China – who make their debut at the tournament this year.
The Aussies are firm favourites with Karamba free bet sites to top the group at 4-5, though England will provide close competition and should at least finish second. Ireland and China will fight it out for third spot.
Prediction: 1) Australia, 2) England, 3) Ireland, 4) China
Hosts India will be high on confidence after their runners-up performance at the Champions Trophy, but will face tough competition from Olympic Games silver medallists Belgium who currently rank as the third best side in the world.
Canada who go into the tournament as 4-5 favorites with 888 should have too much for South Africa in fighting for the remaining qualification sport in third.
Prediction: 1) India, 2) Belgium, 3) Canada, 4) South Africa
In what amounts to a proverbial Group of Death, four-time winners Pakistan, three-time champions Netherlands and twice winners Germany all find themselves in the same group, alongside an unfancied yet dangerous Malaysian team.
Predicting the outcome of this quartet is a tough ask, but if you have to put your money somewhere then Netherlands are amongst favourites at 4-6 to top the pool. For a value bet keep an eye on Malaysia when updated odds are released however, as you may get a big price on the outsiders despite this group being anyone’s to win.
Prediction: 1) Netherlands, 2) Germany, 3) Pakistan, 4) Malaysia
Who wins it?
So, who to wager on once the action gets underway?
Once again it’s hard to look past Australia, who will record their third successive World Cup victory by lifting the trophy in December and will tie Pakistan with four World Cup triumphs overall.