Spain vs New Zealand
6th December, Thursday, 17:00 IST
Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar
Day 9 of the 2018 Hockey World Cup is here and it marks the beginning of the 3rd round of Group stage matches. Spain will be locking horns with New Zealand in an important match in terms of determining the top 3 places in Pool A.
Fred Soyez and his troops went up against World Number 2 Argentina, in their first match of the 2018 Hockey World Cup. They really gave Los Leones a scare as they were up to the challenge and the encounter was neck and neck. Ultimately Argentina went on to win the match 4-3 but there will be a lot of positives which the Red Sticks can take from the match.
Their next challenge came in the form of France. The 20th ranked Men in Blue displayed a great fighting spirit against the 8th ranked Spanish team as the match ended 1-1, and the points were split. Les Blues went in front early on with a goal from Timothée Clément. Their goalkeeper Artur Thieffry did superbly well to deny the opposition the equalizer on multiple occasions.
However, Spain finally found the breakthrough with a goal from Álvaro Iglesias at the beginning of the last quarter. They would rue the fact that they had 7 penalty corners and were dominant in the match with 13 shots, yet they failed to win the match.
New Zealand, on the other hand, started proceedings at the World Cup on the right note with a 2-1 win over Jeroen Delmee’s France. The minnows France, had more shots than the Black Sticks and gave them a real scare in the match.
Up next, Darren Smith and his troops faltered and lost 0-3 to Argentina. They haven’t looked convincing at all and look far from the side that won Silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Even though Spain and New Zealand are placed 8th and 9th, respectively, as per the FIH rankings, the Spaniards will have the upper hand in this match as they are looking more dangerous up front.
Form Guide (most recent to oldest, pre-season):
Spain: D L L L L (poor form)
New Zealand: L W L W W (good form)
Head to Head:
Won by Spain: 4
Won by New Zealand: 2
Probable Starting XI:
Quico Cortés (goalkeeper), Sergi Enrique, Josep Romeu, Marc Serrahima, Xavier Lleonart, Vicenç Ruiz, Marc Sallés, Ricardo Santana, Pau Quemada, Enrique González, Álvaro Iglesias
Richard Joyce (goalkeeper), Shea McAleese, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant, Cory Bennett, Nic Woods, Hayden Philips, Marcus Child, Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness, George Muir
My Dream XI
Goalkeeper: Richard Joyce
26-year-old Richard Joyce put up a strong show between the sticks against both France and Argentina.
Defence: Blair Tarrant, Kane Russell, Sergi Enrique and Josep Romeu
Blair Tarrant, the 28-year-old captain of the Black Sticks is about to reach 200 caps for the national team. Being an experienced candidate, he brings in unity in the New Zealand squad.
Kane Russell has fulfilled his defensive duties well and even scored New Zealand’s first goal in the match against France.
Both Sergi Enrique and Josep Romeu have not only been excellent in defence but also pitched in when their team is on the offensive. Romeu found the back of the net in the match against Los Leones.
Alternative: Shea McAleese in place of Kane Russell. The 34-year-old Shea brings in a lot of experience to New Zealand. His presence strengthens the backline. With over 250 caps for his national team, Shea is still going strong.
Midfield: Nic Woods, Xavier Lleonart, Vicenç Ruiz
Young 23-year-old Nic Woods brings in the requisite fire and dynamism in the New Zealand midfield.
Xavier Lleonart is a very experienced Spanish player who can creates multiple good opportunities upfield. He forms a formidable partnership with Vicenç Ruiz. Ruiz made it 3-3 in the match against Argentina but eventually Spain lost 3-4.
Alternative: Marc Salles in pace of Vicenç Ruiz
Forward: Pau Quemada, Enrique González, Álvaro Iglesias
The attacking trio of Spain even gave World Number 2 Argentina a lot of trouble in their first match. All three made exceptional runs and have a brilliant game sense and positioning.
Pau, having more than 200 caps for the national team, brings in his experience to the team while the young blood of 22-year-old Enrique González earned him a goal in the match against Los Leones. Álvaro Iglesias scored a crucial equalizing goal against France. New Zealand will really have a tough time defending their darting forward runs.
Alternative: Stephen Jenness in place of Álvaro Iglesias
Must not pick – Spain’s captain Miquel Delàs as he is suffering an injury and has flown back home to get treatment.
Captain: Josep Romeu
Vice-captain: Blair Tarrant
Player to watch out for: Enrique González
Enrique González has become a key cog in the Spanish line-up. His runs down the right flank have helped his side create many opportunities. The youngster already has a goal to his name and even helped in winning a couple of Penalty Corners. Unafraid to go all out and with a point to prove, Enrique will certainly be the man to watch out for.