Argentina vs England
12th December, Wednesday, 16:45 IST
Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar
We are closing in on the quarter-final matches to commence at the 2018 Hockey World Cup. There were a few one-sided matches during the pool stage but there is not much that will be separating the teams which have made it to the Top 8 and we can expect some nail-biting encounters.
The first quarterfinal will be played between Argentina and England. Los Leones, who are currently ranked 2 as per the FIH Rankings, made it directly to the quarterfinal stage by virtue of topping Pool A. Their first game was a close-knit encounter against Spain, which they ended up winning 4-3.
In their next match, Argentina defeated New Zealand 3-0. However, what came as a big shock to everyone was their 3-5 loss to France in the last league match.
France were the lowest ranked team in the competition but displayed spectacular hockey on the field to defeat the Rio Olympics gold medalists. In fact, their dream run is continuing and France have also made it to the quarterfinal stage where they will face Australia.
Gonzalo Peillat, Lucas Martínez Ruiz, and Agustín Mazzilli will be the three players Los Leones will be banking on against England.
England have grown with each game in the competition. After a lacklustre 2-2 draw against World Cup debutants China, England suffered a 0-3 defeat against World Champions Australia. The English players played with an iron will in their final league match and goals from Condon, Ansell, Gall, and Gleghorne helped them seal a fine 4-2 victory against Ireland, which enabled them to finish 2nd in Pool B.
A tough challenge awaited them in the crossover match in the form of New Zealand. Some menacing attacking helped them brush aside this challenge as well as they defeated New Zealand 2-0 to enter the quarterfinals. Goalkeeper George Pinner was absolutely fantastic under the helmet and helped the Men in White maintain a clean sheet.
The graph has only been up for Danny Kerry and his troops as they have improved with every match. The older players had been performing well but the younger players, Will Calnan and Luke Taylor, have also joined the party now as they scored their first ever World Cup goals in the match against New Zealand.
Germán Orozco’s Argentina will need to quickly learn from the mistakes they made against France. They cannot falter in the quarter-final match as English players such as Liam Ansell, Phil Roper, Barry Middleton are always on the prowl and will make them pay.
The stage is set for an exciting contest.
Form Guide (most recent to oldest, pre-season):
England: W W L D D (average form)
Argentina: L W W W W (good form)
Head to Head (since 2013):
Won by England: 0
Won by Argentina: 4
Probable Starting XI:
George Pinner (Goalkeeper), Mark Gleghorne, Adam Dixon, Michael Hoare, Liam Sanford, Barry Middleton, Harry Martin, Phil Roper, David Ames, Liam Ansell, Will Calnan
Juan Vivaldi (Goalkeeper), Gonzalo Peillat, Pedro Ibarra, Juan Gilardi, Matias Rey, Juan Lopez, Agustin Mazzilli, Matias Paredes, Lucas Villa, Lucas Martínez, Joaquín Menini
My Dream XI
Goalkeeper: George Pinner
England’s experienced custodian George Pinner, was crucial for them in the last league match against Ireland as well as the crossover game against New Zealand.
The 31-year-old reads the situation exceptionally well and had to come off his line on a couple of occasions to deny the Black Sticks strikers. He also knows when to stand his ground and made a couple of brilliant saves Stephen Jenness of New Zealand got a few shots away on target.
Defence: Gonzalo Peillat, Mark Gleghorne, Pedro Ibarra, Liam Sanford
Peillat has been just excellent whenever Argentina get a Penalty corner. His class has been on display as he has already fired in 4 goals — 2 each against Spain and France — with his monstrous drag flicks. The 26-year-old has refined his skill really well and his precisely taken drag flicks can cause a handful of problems for England in the upcoming quarter-final match.
Mark Gleghorne does for England what Peillat does for Argentina. The 33-year-old is not only an important defender in the English side but also a potent drag-flicker. He found the back of the net against China as well as against Ireland during the League stage.
Pedro Ibarra, the Argentinian captain, has kept things organized at the back for the Los Leones. His interventions have been vital and the 33-year-old will have to ensure that his team show England why they are the World Number 2 in the World. He will be disappointed with his team’s performance against France and rearing to get them back to winning ways again.
Liam Sanford has been brilliant for England. The 22-year-old has fulfilled his defensive duties and also looked menacing going up front. The youngster also received the player of the match award in the crossover match against New Zealand for his all-round performance and spirited display on the field.
Alternative: Michael Hoare/Luke Taylor in place of Liam Sanford.
Midfield: Matias Rey, Phil Roper, David Ames
Matias Rey has kept things flowing in the Argentinian midfield. The 34-year-old has over 150 caps for the national team. He was crucial in winning a few penalty corners and is also great with his long passes.
Phil Roper plays with a lot of composure. The 26-year-old has the ability to make darting runs from the flank and find the perfect pass in the circle. A recent proof of this was his assist to Will Calnan in the crossover match against New Zealand.
The Black Sticks were defending well and the English team was having difficulty finding the breakthrough despite putting constant pressure. Roper controlled the ball brilliantly from a long pass in the 25th minute, beat two defenders and made a run towards the backline from the left flank, invited the Kiwi keeper Richard Joyce and found Calnan with a perfectly lofted pass. All Calnan had to do was slot it home into the empty net. It was a crucial goal and Roper displayed a lot of skill in getting the assist.
David Ames has been one of England’s hardest working midfielders. The 29-year-old has made his contribution count both in attack and defence.
Alternative: Barry Middleton/David Condon/Harry Martin/Juan Lopez/James Gall in place of David Ames.
Forward: Agustin Mazzilli, Liam Ansell, Lucas Martinez
Mazzilli scored two brilliant goals in Argentina’s first game against Spain. He also scored the first goal when Los Leones defeated New Zealand 3-0 in their 2nd match. All three of his goals have been from open play. English defenders will need to keep a close eye on him as he can punish them with his deflections and ripping reverses if given space and time on the ball in the circle.
Liam Ansell is England’s livewire. The 25-year-old has been a revelation for the team. His brilliant stick play and skills are feared by defenders. Ansell is also a great finisher. He won the player of the match award against Ireland. The youngster found the back of the net against China and Ireland. His quick burst sprints are sure to cause problems for Los Leones.
Lucas Martinez has scored two goals in his World Cup campaign so far. The hardworking 23-year-old brings young blood to Argentina’s forward line.
Lucas Vila/Will Calnan in place of Lucas Martinez
Captain: Gonzalo Peillat
Vice-captain: Liam Ansell
Player to watch out for: Gonzalo Peillat
Despite Peillat’s brace, Argentina could not end the league stage on a high and were upset by France. The 26-year-old will be raring to get more goals with his prolific drag flicks when his team clashes against England in the all-important quarterfinal match.