Who’s enjoying: India (rank: 5) vs Belgium (rank: 1)

When: Saturday, February 8 and Sunday, February 9 (Live on Star Sports 2, 5pm)

Where: Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar

Form card: India beat Netherlands 5-2 and drew 3-3 (gained tie breaker 3-1); Belgium drew with Australia 2-2 (gained tie breaker 4-2) and beat 4-2

What’s The Composition Of The Indian Team?

Chief coach Graham Reid has made seven modifications to the 18-man squad for this weekend’s match from the crew that performed in opposition to the Netherlands final month. Midfielder Rajkumar Pal, 21, is ready to make his worldwide debut whereas kids Jarmanpreet Singh and Shamsher Singh have been given a chance to make a case for themselves. Dilpreet Singh, who was spent a little bit greater than a yr with the junior aspect after discovering it laborious to ascertain himself among the many seniors, will make a comeback together with Kothajit Singh, Ramandeep Singh and Hardik Singh. These gamers have changed a few of the veterans within the squad, together with SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh and Birendra Lakra.

Why Has The Coach Made So Many Changes If India Played Well Against The Netherlands?

All groups are utilizing Pro League to check their mixtures forward of the Olympics. Reid was initially planning to make use of two totally totally different groups for 2 matches on a weekend. However, he appears to have determined to rotate the squad for each tie. It appears just like the experiment will proceed until the very finish, provided that he has harassed that his final objective is the Olympics and what occurs within the Pro League won’t have a lot bearing.

Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh throughout a coaching session on the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. (Source: Hockey India)

Are Belgium, Too, Fielding An ‘experimental’ Team?

Far from it, in truth. While they, too, are utilizing the Pro League as a take a look at occasion forward of the Games, Belgium are right here with all their gamers who performed, and gained, the World Cup closing on the identical venue in December 2018. The identical bunch went on to win the European Championship final yr and completed runners-up within the 2019 Pro League, dropping within the closing to Australia. The Belgian crew that’s right here, led by Thomas Briels, is arguably one of the best on the planet in the meanwhile and in addition the agency favourites for the Olympic gold later this yr.

So, Belgium Should Be The Favourites To Win This Tie?

Yes. Belgium travelled to Sydney a fortnight in the past and stayed undefeated within the two matches. In the primary match, they scored a last-minute objective to degree the scores 2-2 and went on to win the tie-breaker 4-2. In the second sport, they have been extra ruthless, thrashing the defending champions 4-2 in their very own yard.

Belgium’s revolutionary zonal press system, mixed with high-press and counter-attacking type, is one thing India have struggled to cope with up to now. They are stable defensively – led in that division by goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch and defender Arthur van Doren – and boast of a few of the finest attacking gamers on the planet. There are hardly in chinks of their armour.

What Should We Expect From India?

Against the Netherlands, India have been refreshingly optimistic within the type they adopted. Reid lined-up his gamers in a 2-5-3 formation and by crowding the midfield, India have been capable of win a whole lot of battles in that space of the pitch and break Netherlands’ momentum. That helped the midfielders and forwards to launch fast breaks, and with a bunch of improved technical abilities, they have been capable of continuously maintain the Dutch on the again foot.

One of the hallmarks of India’s type in each these matches was the crew was aggressive of their method and performed extra ahead passes relatively than sideways or backwards. Reid doesn’t like enjoying conservative hockey and for as soon as, the gamers delivered what the coach demanded.

Are There Any Major Concerns For India?

India’s largest drawback has been consistency. Historically, they’ve performed nicely in a single match after which struggled within the subsequent. Reid has harassed on this level from the time he has taken cost of the dressing room final yr, and the gamers responded once they performed in opposition to the Netherlands.

There have been moments within the match once they let go of the initiative – India have been significantly poor within the second quarter of each matches. But a few of the senior gamers within the crew stood up and made themselves depend when it was wanted essentially the most, particularly within the second match when India have been down by two targets. With Reid selecting to discipline a reasonably younger squad this weekend, it stays to be seen if India play with the identical self-discipline.

What Will Be The Key For Both Teams To Win The Match?

For India, it is going to be necessary to manage the tempo of the sport – Belgium will prefer to sluggish issues down as they’re conscious of the menace India’s strikers possess in the event that they discover a break. Belgians are good, clear tacklers and are good at intercepting passes within the midfield due to their type of play – they’ll encourage their opponents to maintain the ball within the pockets of house within the midfield; as soon as there, they’ll press cohesively, attempt to dispossess and launch a fast assault.

So one other problem for India will likely be to routinely get behind the midfield. In the World Cup, the place India have been the one crew Belgium couldn’t defeat (2-2 draw), Harendra Singh made the crew play an unprecedented variety of aerial passes to beat the midfield. Reid has inspired his gamers to play ahead passes. For that, India must be sensible and play in a method that they don’t get lure within the center the wily Belgians will arrange.



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