Germany and the Netherlands are set for yet another major clash in their storied histories together this evening when they meet in the final match (8pm) of the 2012 Olympiad. Both sides are seeking their third Olympic title in the last 20 years as they have won four of the last five Games since 1992, broken only by Australia’s Athens win.
For the Dutch, they will be hoping to become the first nation to win both men’s and women’s competitions in the same year. Much was made prior to the tournament of Paul van Ass’s decision to drop Teun de Nooijer and Taeke Taekema earlier this year but it appears to have been part of galvanising force. De Nooijer came back into the fray a rejuvenated force, refreshed and ready to embark on a journey that has already yielded a fourth Olympic medal.
Whether this one will be his third gold remains to be seen but they have shown a real touch of finesse in winning all six of their games to date. The link-up play of Valentin Verga, Billy Bakker and Roderick Weusthof has been a delight in the forward line while Mink van der Weerden stepped into Taekema’s goal-scoring shoes with seven set-piece goals. But they have injury worries as Klaas Vermeulen has a broken collar bone and has been replaced in the panel by Tim Jenniskens.
Markus Weise is another man with Olympic history on his side, becoming the first coach to lead both a nation’s male and female teams to glory. Indeed, he is looking for a third successive title having led the women to the Athens title and subsequently the men in 2008 in Beijing.
German skipper Max Mueller praised his coach’s method of peaking by the latter stages of the competition and their victory over Australia was a spectacular improvement on earlier rounds. Dismantling one of the most aggressive presses in the game with clever overheads and pin-point counter-attacks, Weise and chief lieutenant Mortiz Furste played a masterclass.
Florian Fuchs has been the tournament top scorer from play – shared with Billy Bakker – on six goals, showing both sides have highly attacking intentions. The rivalry with the Dutch is always an intense one and the pair played out a cracking European final last August in Monchengladbach, the Germans winning out 4-2.
A year earlier in Delhi, the laurels were shared 2-2 while the 2011 Champions Trophy saw the Dutch the victors on a 3-2 scoreline, illustrating the tight-knit history between the sides.
It sets the scene for a huge night at the Riverbank as both sides looked to cement their place in history. They will be preceded by the Great Britain and Australia men at 3.30pm in the bronze medal match.
For the hosts GB, it is their chance to bounce back from their semi-final horror show against the Dutch, losing 9-2, and claim their first medal in 24 years. Australia have looked unstoppable at times but came a cropper in the semi-final 4-2 to Germany. They have medalled at each of the last five Olympics with bronze in both Athens and Beijing to their name.
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