European Hockey Championships 2021: Men’s preview, teams guide


Pool A

Belgium
World ranking: 1st
EuroHockey Championship appearances: 17
Best finish: Winners (2019)

Shane McLeod’s reigning champions have been able to call on an incredibly consistent line-up in recent times and there will be 17 of the 18 players that won in Antwerp two years ago returning this time.

The one changes sees Manu Stockbroekx come into the panel with Sebastien Dockier the player to miss out. Otherwise, it is pretty much the same side that won the World Cup in 2018 with stellar names like FIH Player of the Year Arthur van Doren, John-John Dohmen, Thomas Briels, Felix Denayer, Vincent Vanasch and Tom Boon aiming to add to their medal haul.

Even their young players are massively experienced with Victor Wegnez closing in on 100 caps while Antoine Kina has over 70 to his name.

“We go to Amsterdam to defend the title we won two years ago but, above all, we will be happy to play a series of matches there and assess our level with even greater precision,” McLeod said ahead of the event. They won the FIH Pro League this week but a 4-0 defeat to the Netherlands on Sunday means there are still areas to work on.

England

World ranking: 6th
EuroHockey Championship appearances: 18
Best finish: Winners (2009)

Head coach Danny Kerry has named an experienced squad for the Europeans. This includes 2009 gold medallist Adam Dixon who captains the side, while David Ames could make his 50th appearance for England if he features in every game.

The likes of Harry Martin, Chris Griffiths, Ian Sloan and Phil Roper all have a wealth of international know-how while exemplary striker Sam Ward gives their attack a really snappy fulcrum.

Conversely, this will be 22-year-old Ollie Payne‘s first experience of a senior tournament and – along with Zach Wallace – he is one of two players under 24. David Goodfield will pull on an England shirt for the first time since 2018, having returned to international hockey with Great Britain in October. 

England will be aiming to return to the top four following a low-key tournament in 2019, finishing outside the semi-final spots for the first time since 2007.

Russia

World ranking: 22nd
EuroHockey Championship appearances: 5
Best finish: 7th (2011)

Following promotion in 2019 from the second division in Cambrai, they are now hoping to retain their place in the top tier for the first time since relegation was introduced to the European Championships. Promotion in 2009 and 2015 has been followed both times but a drop straight back down once again.

It has also been a difficult preparation for them as they have not played a capped senior international match since their unsuccessful Olympic qualifier back in 2019 putting team leader Alexey Sorokin and head coach Vladimir Konkin at a major disadvantage.

Konkin took on the job in 2018 but has overseen just 18 games in that time, winning 10 of them but none against top ten opposition which makes this a very tricky proposition ahead.

Of the wider panel named, the wily Pavel Golubev and defensive giant Nikolay Yankun have been mainstays of the side while youngster Georgii Arusiia has impressed in the Euro Hockey League for Dinamo Elektrostal.

Spain

World ranking: 9th
EuroHockey Championship appearances: 18
Best finish: Winners – 2 times (1974, 2005)

One of European top hockey’s ever-present teams, Spain will be pushing to land a third title this week following an exceptional run two years ago in Antwerp.

It will be the last European championship for some of Spain’s all-time legends like goalkeeper Quico Cortes – who played in the 2005 gold medal success – Pau Quemada, David Alegre and Josep Romeu indicating they will retire after this summer.

Indeed, with Miki Delas and Marc Salles, it is a panel loaded with knowledge with 14 players from the 2019 silver winning side lining out again.

Roc Oliva was originally named in the panel but due to the impending arrival of his new baby, he has stepped out with Marc Miralles stepping in.

The team is coached by Fred Soyez who will be on the move back to his homeland, France, in the wake of this summer’s activities while current Dutch coach Max Caldas has been confirmed as the man to take over later this year.


Pool B

France

World ranking: 12th
EuroHockey Championship appearances: 15
Best finish: 4th (1970)

France earned promotion back to the top tier with a storming run to the second division trophy in 2019 on home turf in Cambrai with skipper Victor Charlet scoring seven times in five games.

It followed on from their successful 2018 run to the World Cup quarter-finals with Jeroen Delmee’s team one very much on the rise. They have a strong core of players who operate at the upper end of the Belgian league like Nicolas Dumont, Gaspard Baumgarten and Jean-Baptiste Forgues.

And they will take plenty of confidence from a 5-2 win over Germany in a challenge match on May 28th with goalkeeper Arthur Thieffry excelling and livewire striker Pieter van Straaten in the mix.

It will be Delmee’s last tournament before he goes on to coach the Netherlands and the initial target will be to retain a place in the top tier for the first time since 2009 having endure relegation in 2011 and 2015.

Germany

World ranking: 5th
EuroHockey Championship appearances: 18
Best finish: Winners – 8 times (1970, 1978, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2011, 2013)

Germany will be looking to end a relative medal drought in the Euros following fourth place finished in 2017 and 2019 with the last of their eight Euro golds coming in 2013.

Coach Kais al Saadi announced his side in tandem with his Olympic squad announcement, confirming Mats Grambusch will not play in the Euros but a spot is still open for him for the Olympics If he can be fit in time.

The side includes double gold medalist Tobias Hauke ​​(2008 and 2012) and Florian Fuchs and Martin Häner who won the Olympics in 2012). There are nine players from the 2016 bronze medal winning side in their European line-up with exciting newcomers like Justus Weigand, Linus Müller and Paul-Philipp Kaufmann hoping to make their mark.

The other fresh face is  21-year-old TSV Mannheim man Alexander Stadler who has managed to show enough to get in ahead of Mark Appel and Victor Aly in the goalkeeping rankings

Netherlands

World ranking: 3rd
EuroHockey Championship appearances: 18
Best finish: Winners – 5 times (1983, 1987, 2007, 2015, 2017)

Five-time winners, the Netherlands have only finished outside the medal positions on one occasion in 17 previous attempts, running up seven silver medals and four bronze in total. As such, it makes them one of the sides to watch and they bring an exciting line-up to their home party.

Goal machine Jeroen Hertzberger, 35, has made the squad to mark his full comeback to prominence having originally been left on the sidelines in the wake of the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He is the most experienced played in their squad with 253 caps.

He gets the nod just ahead of the likes of Roel Bovendeert, Terrance Pieters and Bjorn Kellerman in the forwards with club mate Thijs van Dam offering great pace alongside him.

In Jorrit Croon and Thierry Brinkman, they have two of world hockey’s rising stars while their corner options are powerful from Mink van der Weerden and Jip Janssen. Seve van Ass and Billy Bakker offer creativity and Sander de Wijn is the enforcer in the defence.

Wales

World ranking: 18th
EuroHockey Championship appearances: 10
Best finish: 6th – 2 times (1974, 1999, 2019)

Wales produced a fairytale performance in 2019 to finish in sixth place in their first top tier European Championships since 1999, equaling their best ever performance on this stage. It was made all the more impressive as they were in the third tier in 2015, earning back to back promotions to get to the highest level.

The lowest ranked side going into the 2019 edition, they drew with England 2-2 and ran up a breath-taking 4-0 victory over Ireland to retain their place.

They are bolstered by Rupert Shipperley and Jacob Draper who have impressed in the past few years with the Great Britain team while Gareth Furlong has a rocket drag-flick which he has showcased in the Dutch leagues.

Players like Lewis Prosser, Luke Hawker and Owain Dolan-Gray have been crucial parts of the journey and their recent 6-1 win over Scotland in a warm-up game suggests they are up for the challenge once again.

Provided by EHF



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