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Preview: Germany and the Netherlands in a battle of titans

Source: PTI
March 06, 2010 17:58 IST
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Defending champions Germany face a stern test when they take on rampaging the Netherlands in a mouthwatering Pool A clash in the Hero Honda hockey World Cup in New Delhi on Sunday.

Germany, gunning for a hat-trick of titles after their triumphs in 2002 and 2006, are yet to reach their peak form though they had maintained a clean slate in the three matches they had played so far.

Coming in this tournament with nine of their Beijing Olympics gold-winning squad, Germany began their campaign with a 2-2 draw against South Korea before whipping Canada 6-0 in their second match.

But Maximillian Muller-led young side were lucky to have scraped past a plucky Argentina, the lowest ranked side in the 12-team tournament, 4-3 in a thrilling match on Friday.

On the other hand, the Netherlands are in a rampaging form having beaten Argentina, New Zealand and Canada though they will have their first real challenge on Sunday.

Their defence has been compact with veteran goalkeeper Guus Vogel in good touch, conceding just one goal so far. Germany will have to find some way to stop star drag flicker Taeke Taekema from scoring.

The Dutch penalty conner specialist has scored six goals to lead the scorers' chart.

Taekema has now become the third most prolific scorer in World Cup history with 19 goals. He needs two more goals to equal countryman Ties Kruize (21) and seven to equal all-time top scorer Paul Litjens (26), another legendary penalty corner taker from the Netherlands.

Past history favours Germany who have won thrice and lost once in the seven earlier World Cup encounters against the Netherlands with the remaining being drawn affairs.

Their last World Cup encounter in 2006 ended 2-2 while the Dutch have won the last two competitive encounters between the two sides -- 4-3 at the 2009 Champions Trophy and 5-3 at the 2008 Champions Trophy. 

Stakes are also high for South Korea and New Zealand in their Pool A matches against Canada and Argentina respectively. 

South Korea would look for a win against Canada so that they can have their all out effort against the Netherlands in their last pool match on March 9 for a semifinal berth. 

New Zealand will have a tough match against Argentina, who were unlucky to have lost to Germany. 

The Latin Americans, who are out of semifinal race, would want aim to win at least on match.

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