Hockey World Cup 2018: Argentina vs Spain - 5 Talking Points
The Argentinian gaffer Germán Orozco mentioned before the start of the match that 'The Spanish are tough to beat - don't know why, but they are.' His words proved to be spot on as there was little separating Argentina and Spain as they clashed in the 3rd encounter of the 2018 Hockey World Cup.
It was a cracking game of hockey. Who would have imagined that World Rank 2 Argentina would have such a difficult time facing Spain, who are ranked 8th as per the current FIH rankings. A lot of drama has been witnessed early on in the mega tournament and this match really raised the bar a step further.
A close encounter was always expected between The Lions and The Red Sticks. Even though the Argentinians were ranked much higher and were more decorated, Spain gained confidence from the fact that they had the upper hand in the head to head record during the World Cups. In the 7 matches the two teams played at the World Cup, Spain had won 3, Argentina won 2 whereas 2 ended in draws.
The Lions are famously known as the counter attacking giants in World Hockey and this is exactly what helped them to a narrow 4-3 victory over Spain this time around. This match really brought the World Cup alive and was the most evenly-contested tie one can imagine.
The Kalinga stadium -- with a capacity of 15000 -- was also almost full even though the home team India were not playing. The match was a all-Hispanic classic. Los Leones or The Lions as the Argentinians are nicknamed will be really happy to clinch all three points from the match.
Sublime finishing was at display by both teams. Argentina had 5 shots on goal -- 4 of which were goals. Even Spain got 3 goals from their 6 shots on goal. The teams were offensive on the attack as well -- with The Lions having 12 circle entries and The Red Sticks with 18 circle entries. A brilliant game overall with plenty of positives to take for both teams from this absorbing match. Let us dive straight into what were the 5 talking points from this enthralling fixture:
#5 Quickfire goals by both teams in Quarter 1
Spain took the lead in the 3rd minute itself with a goal from Enrique González but the South Americans pulled one back almost immediately in the 4th minute -- with a counter-attacking move which was finished off by Agustin Mazzilli.
Thereafter, The Red Sticks scored off a Penalty corner in the 14th minute and Mazzilli scored his -- and Argentina's -- 2nd goal in the same minute with another phenomenal counter attack. Spain's 2nd goal was beatifully waited and fizzed by Josep Romeu past the hapless Argentinian keeper.
Argentina's resilience and hunger to take the lead paid off as they got a penalty corner right at the hooter of Quarter 1. Gonzalo Peillat scored with a thundrous dragflick right through the legs of the Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Cortés Juncosa and helped the Men in Blue and White get the lead for the first time in the game.
There were a total of 5 goals scored in Quarter 1 itself. The first 15 minutes were so high on energy and adrenaline that the 2nd quarter, although well contested, felt as if was a tad bit slow. It was an absolutely astonishing period of hockey and the Argentinians led 3-2 at the end of the first quarter itself.
Even though Spain were patient and looked hungry to get the equalizer in the 2nd quarter, the Argentenian defense stood tall like a wall. Both the teams played high up in the first quarter which resulted in so many turnovers. There were not many chances created but the quality of finishing was so immaculate by both teams that there was hardly any opportunity on which the teams failed to score.
In quarter 2, both the teams regained composure and tried to hold onto the ball longer with good passing all around. This resulted in fewer turnovers. As a result, there were also lesser chances created.