Paris 2024 | Four top favorites in men’s hockey: Netherlands wants first gold since 2000 – a preview

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Paris 2024 | Four top favorites in men’s hockey: Netherlands wants first gold since 2000 – a preview

The last time the Netherlands became Olympic champions for men was a very long time ago. Under the leadership of Stefan Veen, it was in Sydney in 2000 that the Dutch team received the gold medal for the last time.

Since then there have been five disappointments, of which the silver medal from London 2012 still hurts. The Netherlands played dream hockey then and defeated home country Great Britain in the semi-finals with 9-2. In the final against Germany, however, things went wrong again.

In Tokyo four years ago, there was even a very disappointing sixth place, which meant the worst result since 1984. The selection was past its sell-by date at the time and there was great dissatisfaction around national coach Max Caldas among some of the selection. The big low point was Jacques Brinkman who read out app conversations of his son Thierry, who was in the selection, live on television. Brinkman’s words about Caldas were not lying.

Now, however, the situation is completely different. Hockey animal Jeroen Delmee was appointed as Caldas’ successor and Thierry Brinkman is now captain of the Netherlands. Under Delmee, the fun seems to be back within the much rejuvenated selection of the Netherlands.

Group stage

The Netherlands in Group A is in Paris with Germany, host country France, Great Britain, Spain and South Africa. Germany in particular is a strong opponent as reigning world champion and Great Britain is also always dangerous.

The schedule is not unfavorable to the Dutch. South Africa is the first opponent of the men on Saturday July 27 at 12:45. A day later on Sunday July 28 at 19:45 France is the opponent. With that the Netherlands starts the tournament against the two weakest teams of Pool A on paper.

  • July 27 – 12:45: Netherlands – South Africa
  • July 28 – 7:45 PM: Netherlands – France
  • July 30 – 12:45: UK – Netherlands
  • July 31 – 5:30 PM: Germany – Netherlands
  • August 2 – 10:30 am: Netherlands – Spain

The Netherlands will not really worry about the group stage. Of the six teams, the best four will advance to the quarterfinals, so it seems highly unlikely that the Netherlands will be eliminated after the group stage.

However, it is important to be sharp right away. In Pool B at these Olympic Games are Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Ireland, India and New Zealand. The Netherlands definitely does not want to meet Australia and Belgium in the quarter finals and therefore a place in the top two is very desirable.

Paris 2024 | Four top favorites in men’s hockey: Netherlands wants first gold since 2000 – a preview

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Bad dress rehearsal

The Paris Olympics were designated by Jeroen Delmee as an absolute peak moment when he was appointed. Even the World Cup in India was dominated by preparations for Paris. The Netherlands must now perform with a team that has been under construction in recent years.

The dress rehearsal was not as Delmee would have hoped. During the last two matches in the Pro League, they did not win against Germany and Belgium. Against Germany it became 1-1, after which a dramatic shoot-out series against the Netherlands followed.

Three of the four shoot-outs were missed, while the Germans hit the target three times. Against Belgium two days later, the defense was not good, which caused the Dutch to lose 5-3. The defense and the shoot-outs are therefore a cause for concern for Delmee.

Favorites

In the men’s category, there are four countries that are the big favorites for Olympic gold. Belgium is the defending champion and a large part of the golden generation is still present. The team is bursting with experience, but perhaps they waited too long to select further. The team seems to have passed its peak, but will certainly instill fear in their opponents in Paris.

The same goes for reigning world champions Germany. With Niklas Wellen, the Germans have the most lethal striker in the world and in terms of depth, Germany is a particularly stable team.

Australia won the Pro League this year, but this team also seems to have had its peak. For a few years now, it has not been the dominant Australia that made a big impression at the 2014 World Cup in The Hague by wiping out the Netherlands 6-1 in the final.

Finally, there is the Netherlands. As the largest hockey nation in the world, they are hungry for a new prize at the highest level. The golden period from 1996 to 2000 with two Olympic titles and a world title is far behind us. Since then, no prize at the highest level has been won. However, the Netherlands did become European champion four times in the last five tournaments.

As outsiders, Britain and India in particular must be taken into account.

Penalty corner a concern

In men’s hockey, the penalty corner is crucial. For the Netherlands, this is a point where there will be concerns. Jip Janssen has an excellent corner, but the Kampong defender is still very inconsistent. The power is always there, but too often the corners go straight to the keeper, which means there is no threat.

On the other hand, Belgium and Germany in particular have world-class penalty corners. Alexander Hendrickx has shown in recent years on the Dutch pitches that he has a deadly corner and Germany got Gonzalo Peillat a few years ago. The Argentinian-born player had a row with the national coach, applied for a German passport and was crucial for Germany during the World Cup victory in India.

A second problem for the Netherlands is that there is no plan B. Only sixteen players are allowed to be taken to Paris and Jip Janssen is the only player with a really strong corner. Seve van Ass will be designated as second man, but Van Ass has rarely shown the strength needed to hit high percentages. Janssen will therefore be given little time on the bench.

Star players

Despite the concerns about the Netherlands, the group of players will travel to the Olympic Games with more confidence than in the past ten years. The Netherlands has a young team that is eager and can beat anyone.

The focus will be on Pirmin Blaak, Jip Janssen, Jonas de Geus, Thierry Brinkman and Duco Telgenkamp. These are the most important players of Oranje for various reasons. Blaak is the experienced goalkeeper. In hockey, this position is extremely important, especially considering the fact that a draw will lead to shoot-outs.

Jip Janssen is the man who has to push in the penalty corners. If things go well for the tall defender, the Netherlands may be the top favorite for gold.

Jonas de Geus must maintain control in the middle of the midfield, while Thierry Brinkman and Duco Telgenkamp must unleash their demons up front. The duo can score from all angles and positions and will continuously be looking for goals. Defenders of the competition will certainly be worried about the duo Brinkman/Telgenkamp.

Where are you looking?

Eurosport and HBO Max will broadcast the battle for gold, silver and bronze live during Paris 2024. Just like in Tokyo and Beijing, we will bring you all the matches in Paris live with a large team of experts and commentators, with all the emotions, reactions, analyses and backgrounds. Follow our new channel on Whatsapp already?

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