With the Rio Olympics less than two months away, India will be keen to come up with a positive result in the upcoming Champions Trophy, which starts on June 10. The competition, which comprises Australia, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain and South Korea, will prove to be India's major test ahead of the quadrennial event.
India have a tough opener against Germany in London, where PR Sreejesh's men have be on top of their game, and not provide any easy chances to their opponents, who are a serious contender for the title.
India have never won the prestigious Champions Trophy since the tournament's inception in 1978. Winning this competition in London will be a huge task for India, but they can take inspiration from their Azlan Shah Cup performance, where they finished runners-up to Australia. Coach Roelant Oltmans wants to achieve a podium finish in the Champions Trophy, which will increase the team's confidence for Rio Olympics.
"A podium finish is a realistic target we're chasing here at this Champions Trophy. A medal here will be a big confidence-booster ahead of the Olympic Games. Rio de Janeiro is our main focus this summer and good results on the way will surely lift the team's morale," Press Trust of India quoted Oltmans as saying.
India have provided rest to their talismanic skipper Sardar Singh, and hence goalkeeper Sreejesh will lead the team in the Champions Trophy. Along with Sardar, drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh has also been rested, which means VR Raghuntah and Harmanpreet Singh will be under pressure to convert the penalty corners.
Besides these players, SV Sunil, with his speed, and Nikkin Thimmaiah (dribbling skills) will need to link well and score some important field goals against Germany, who will go into this match as favourites.
Germany have always been a strong team in the Champions Trophy, winning the title 10 times, including the last edition in India in 2014. Germany are gunning for their 11th title. With players like Florian Fuchs and Benedikt Furk, Germany will have the odds in their favour to get past India, who will be keen to stun the defending champions.
Germany are always an attacking team and love to play at a good pace, which will surely test the Indian players and their fitness levels.
Where to watch live
India vs Germany is scheduled for 8:30 p.m IST. Live TV coverage will be available for Indian viewers on Star Sports 2/HD, with live streaming on starsports.com