Bhubaneswar — Niklas Wellen patted Gonzalo Peillat’s head, the latter slumping into his press conference chair 20 yards from a pitch where half an hour or so earlier, a chastening, hapless night for the German looked set to play out at the Hockey World Cup.
But here was the 30-year-old having reached his first final since playing for Argentina at the Rio Olympics and then switching countries and having netted his first hat-trick for the country he switched allegiances for last year.
It was a markedly different psyche. Swap the emotion of Los Leones for the calm of this German side and, before entering the media room at the Kalinga Stadium, Peillat was cock-a-hoop. “F***, my heart is about to explode,” he admitted.
Talk about leaving it late. Top teams sometimes keep different variations up their sleeve for the back end of tournaments. Peillat’s set of aces set off this half-full house at Kalinga.
“I say to the boys, this time, let’s try not to win always in the last seconds. It’s a different culture. We are really calm. Until the last second, we are there trying to find opportunities.
“The difference with Argentina is, we are more passionate and lose our minds a little bit. With German culture, we are more calm and trying to go for the tactics, trying to find what is the weakness point from the opponent. That’s the difference.”
Germany had a calm nature as they dealt with any Australian counter, which amounted to little more than a trickle. With each passing minute, they came back into the game as the Kookaburras’ tired.
Unlike against Australia at the Tokyo Olympics where they played man-to-man, Germany coach Andre Henning had them set up in zonal press, while their ball possession made sure of plentiful circle penetration.
The probing by Henning’s side in the second-half, after a first period described by Germany’s coach as ‘polite hockey.
“I believe he was completely right,” captain Mats Grambusch said. “We were too polite in their D. We just got to be straightforward in the D, hit it towards the target. That’s what we didn’t do well in the first quarter. We knew they are going to be strong, tough and athletic. We stepped back a little too much. That’s something we did change.”