Top teams from around the world have qualified for the prestigious Hockey World League final, which starts on Friday in the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel International Stadium in Raipur. With teams such as Australia, Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany and India as hosts, supreme quality is expected from the competition.
The eights qualified team in the group have been divided into two groups. Group A comprises Australia, Great Britain, Belgium and Canada, while Group B has some huge names of world hockey -- India, Germany and Netherlands -- along with Argentina -- the fourth team in the group.
Here is a look at the four teams in Group B. (Click here for Group A preview)
The men in blue, who are the only Asian team in the competition, are always a huge force in hockey and they resemble an even dangerous side when they are at home. India, who are ranked sixth in the competition, will have to be on top of their game with teams such as Germany and Netherlands in the same group. India need their talismanic skipper, Sardar Singh to master the midfield and help his team come up with a good showing in front of their home fans in Raipur. Apart from Sardar Singh, VR Raghunath with his drag flicks and SV Sunil with his electrifying pace in the right wing are going to hold the key for India.
The Oranje, irrespective of the tournament they feature, start the tournament as one of the huge favourites and it is no different with the HWL final in Raipur as well. Netherlands have an array of stars in their squad, which includes the likes of their skipper Robert van der Horst, Jeroen Hertzberger and Billy Bakker amongst others. Netherlands are the defending champions as they defeated New Zealand in the first edition on the competition in January 2014, hence they are going to be more than determined to retain their title, which will give them immense confidence ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The European giants have to settle their record in the HWL as they finished an embarrassing seventh in the last edition. The Olympic champions will be one of the teams to beat not only in the group, but in the competition. The third ranked team in the world will be a huge contender for the title with players such as Tobias Hauke and Moritz Fürste, who are stars of world hockey. Apart from these stars, they have some young players such as Christopher Rühr, who is expected to take the HWL final by storm with his offensive play.
The South American team may be well known for their football standards, but their hockey players are gradually developing their national team into a strong unit. On their day, Argentina possesses the talent to defeat any team in HWL final in Raipur. Argentina, who have been taking rapid strides in international hockey, finished third in the 2014 Hockey World Cup, which reflects their progress. In order to prove such performance was no flash in the pan, they need to come up with some quality display in Raipur. Argentina, who are currently ranked fifth in the world, will depend on class players such as Lucas Vila and striker Manuel Brunet, to help team go the full distance in the competition.