This week we are looking at the Men's World Cup Pool B teams that will competing in Inida later in the year. Pool B is perhaps one of the most dangerous Pools at the tournament because of the teams it includes, which are-
Do we based on this label Pool B as the traditional group of death that you get at these types of events, well yes and no. The reality is that one team in this Pool should be strong enough to take top spot then it will be a scrap for the remaining place. So lets take a in depth look at the teams in Pool B.
- Australia the number 1 in the world right now and defending champions from 2014 are clearly the stand-out team to beat in this pool and perhaps for the entire World Cup, they are the scalp that every other nation wants. They should finish top of this Pool with relative ease, but we must bare in mind that they are a team in transition and things have been known in the past to go wrong like the 2016 Olympics and the 2012 Olympics, when they have been the clear favourites. The England game which is a virtual Ashes of hockey is perhaps the toughest game for the Kookaburras, but they cant take it for granted that they beat Ireland and China either, so while they should top the pool if they are just off ever so slightly a surprise could happen.
- England are perhaps the second favourite in this group, and all things being equal, should finish second behind Australia, but like Australia if they take it for granted then it could well be possible that Ireland and China surprise them and suddenly England miss out. The big question is how will the change of Coach effect England leading in, will the new coach have time to make the team there own. My personal feeling is there are more things against England than there are going for them, and I think they may well struggle to get out of the pool phase.
- Ireland are the one's who may be the team here that does finish second in the group, they have been steadly emerging as a World hockey power, but like England they face the issue of needing a new coach before the tournament starts. Again all things being equal then England v Ireland should be the key game for them, win that and they will finish second and go to the knockout stage, lose that and more likely they fail to emerge out of Pool play.
- China are my dark horse here, and should not be taken lightly, they are very much the emerging Asian power in both the Men's and Women's game, and I feel that they could well be the shock second qualifiers out of Pool B. It will all hinge for them on how they do against England and Ireland win both of those and they are through, win and draw, and I think they are still through, however anything less than that and the dark horses run is over. If they do emerge from the Pool and go into the knock-out not sure what they will do, it will depend on how much momentum they have behind them.
So on paper in the end my final standings for Pool B should be-
1. Australia (First)
2. China (second)
3. England (Third)
4. Ireland (fourth)
Like I say anything can happen, and after the Champions trophy which is on shortly, I may choose the revise my thinking, will have to wait and see. Next time we take a look at Pool C which features my favourites to win it all in Belgium and the strong contenders India.