Hockey World Cup 2018 final: 3 Reasons why Netherlands lost

New World Champions in Hockey: Belgium
New World Champions in Hockey: Belgium

Belgium beat Netherlands 3-2 in the shootout to win the World Cup for the first time ever, becoming the sixth nation to lift the trophy.

Both the teams drew blanks in the one hour of open play, which was more down to a defensive masterclass from both the teams rather than their attacking frailties.

The first half showings were much more energetic and full of intent when compared to the second half performance from both the teams, but neither of them featured any goals in the end.

The World Cup final went to a shootout for the first time in its history and was decided at 'sudden death' in front of an eccentric Bhubaneshwar crowd.

Netherlands went 2-0 up in the shootout with Jeroen Hertzberger and Jonas de Geus scoring on their attempts. Belgium had one attempt in hand and Florent van Aubel stepped up to convert his chance.

While Seve Van Ass missed his attempt, Victor Wegnez scored on his to equalize the shootout. In sudden death, the Dutch missed their chance and the Belgians initially scored, but the video referral ruled their goal as illegitimate.

With Belgians taking the shooting opportunity first, Van Aubel scored on his attempt to put the pressure on Netherlands, and it paid off as Hertzberger missed this time around - handing the World Cup trophy to neighbors Belgium.

Here are three reasons that could explain Netherlands' loss:

#3 Dutch not clinical enough against big sides

Netherlands had more chances than Belgium but failed to score
Netherlands had more chances than Belgium but failed to score

The Netherlands side's inability to score against the sides with well-drilled defenses and good defensive tactics showed from the early part of the tournament. While the Dutch team put a combined 17 goals past Malaysia, Pakistan and Canada in just three matches, they managed a mere five goals against Germany, India and Australia combined.

In the final, the Oranje had 20 circle penetrations compared to the Belgians' 13, and a total of 7 shots compared to 4 from the Belgian side. They also had two penalty corners, one of which was wasted with a new inventive variation and the other wasn't even stopped properly by the Dutch contingent.

#2 Belgians defended with all their might

Belgium man-marking the Dutch players and not letting them through
Belgium man-marking the Dutch players and not letting them through

While the Netherlands had more opportunities to shoot, more chances to score a goal and more probability to take a lead, the Belgians were tactically sound in the whole 60 minutes. Shane McLeod set up his men tightly at the back with 8 to 9 players giving a defensive contribution in each attacking move by the Oranje.

When Belgium put it past England in the semi-final, they did not leave their defense open at the back, ensuring a shutout while simultaneously scoring 6 goals. In fact, the Red Lions conceded only 5 goals in the whole World Cup campaign, conceding more than 1 goal only in one match (against India).

#1 Netherlands too complacent in shootout

Belgium v Netherlands shootout
Belgium v Netherlands shootout

Max Caldas led his team to a shootout win in the semi-final against Australia, and the Dutch seemed to be on their way to lift the World Cup trophy a joint-highest 4th time as they were 2-0 up in the shootout.

But everything went downhill from there as Van Aubel scored and brought the score to 2-1. Van Ass missed for the Netherlands while Wegnez found a way around Pirmin Blaak to hit the back of the net and restore parity.

Van Dam then missed for Netherlands, allowing Belgium to net the winner which was disallowed later. Again, Van Aubel scored and Hertzberger, who had scored earlier, beat the goalkeeper but failed to keep his shot below the bar as his nation lost out on the World Cup.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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