England play Germany on Wednesday at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar (4:30pm local time, 11am UK) for a place in the men’s World Cup semi-finals.
The cross-over curse?
“Let’s see what’s an advantage,” said Germany coach Andre Henning, who took over in early 2022. At the 2018 World Cup, three of the four teams who played cross-over matches went on to beat teams who had finished top of their pools, automatically qualified for the quarter-finals and had five days with no hockey.
“It’s either the rhythm and having the experience of playing a knock-out match or if the England guys chilling by the pool a little bit in the last few days [which helps]. I’m curious to see that.
“We want to keep going with this history, if both teams in the last final had this cross-over game. It doesn’t seem to be the biggest disadvantage but first we have to do our stuff.”
In their win over France in the cross-over, Germany’s tight press was very much in evidence. Germany didn’t allow France a sniff – they only won two PCs until seven in the final quarter – the latter rarely having the opportunity to play possession ball and the former able to crowd the opposition with small group defending of three or four players to win balls and set off counters.
Henning believes England will come with tight man-to-man marking and be “very aggressive”. Coupled with that, he admitted that Germany’s rivals possess “an amazing goalkeeper and some talented players with high quality.”
Struggling to score from PCs
After the Tokyo Olympics, Germany began to take stock of their low efficiency at short corners, the amount of circle entries and outcome. “In long corners in a 9 v 9 it became super interesting and that’s what we worked on to create better chances,” said Henning, who was left impressed with his side’s effectiveness in the final third and entering the circle.
England have only managed three goals from 22 PC opportunities at this World Cup, while from Germany’s four matches they have racked up seven goals from 22 corners (Gonzalo Peillat has scored two).
It remains to be seen if the sides are saving variations for the big knock-out clash.
“At the moment it looks like we have good flickers and we are good in the circle so that looks to be a good mix for us,” said Henning.
As then captain Barry Middleton alluded to after England’s win over Argentina in the 2018 quarter-final at the same venue, England had to put in the type of shift which goes unnoticed by the spectator. That extra stick work, tackle or block. England will have to do that and more against a much more resolute German side. As we have seen at this World Cup, if England can manage to frustrate Germany, then half the battle will be won. Germany have accrued seven cards, two of them yellow, to England’s two.
Head to head
2010: England 1 Germany 4 (semi-final)
2006: England 1 Germany 2
Last 10 meetings (since EuroHockey 2015)
England have won four and Germany prevailing six times.