Men's Hockey Pro League 2020: 3 teams with the best attack

India's counterattacking skills are feared the world over
India's counterattacking skills are feared the world over

The 2019 edition of the Pro League witnessed a total of 308 goals scored in 60 matches - not surprising, considering the huge number of ranking points on offer which propels teams to settle for nothing less than a win with a handsome margin whenever possible.

Holding back was seldom an option for most teams and the upcoming season promises to be no different.

With goal difference and goals for coming into the picture for classification after points scored and matches won, the impetus has to be on attacking hockey and teams with superior firepower upfront will fancy their chances more than the others.

Yet, there is no side with a weak defence in a competition which features only the top nine teams of the world - and the strikers can score against the best defensive units in the world which will be tested to the core.

Let's take a close look at three Pro League teams who can breach the opposition circle, consistently and effectively.

#3 India

The Indian men's hockey team will be keen to make an impression on the attacking front
The Indian men's hockey team will be keen to make an impression on the attacking front

The Indian subcontinent has been renowned over the years for a style of hockey that is fast and free-flowing as opposed to the more staid and precise approach which a lot of the European teams tend to adopt.

While the subcontinental and so-called European styles are fast converging in modern-day hockey, the Indian strikers have, to an extent, preserved their inherent flair which they love to display when the opportunity presents itself - especially against the less-fancied outfits.

Spectacular individual dribbles against a host of defenders may no longer be successful against the more established teams in the world but the speed and counterattacking skills of India's formidable forward line are the envy of many sides the world over.

The attacking firepower, bolstered by high-levels of strength and stamina that makes India one of the fittest sides in world hockey has now accorded the cutting edge to a skilful bunch whose stick work and wizardry have never failed to set the galleries alight.

The tried and tested quartet of SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, and Mandeep Singh ably assisted by Lalit Upadhyay and youngsters like Simranjeet have what it takes to be amongst the best in the world and when, on song, are a treat to watch.

If the veterans manage to remain fit and injury-free throughout the tournament the Indians will be a force to reckon with.

The challenge, however, will be to ensure that all the strikers combine seamlessly and consistently because players may need to be rotated quite often in the six-month-long competition.

#2 The Netherlands

The Dutch strikers in action in the Pro League 2019
The Dutch strikers in action in the Pro League 2019

Few attacks in the world of hockey look as menacing as the Dutch forays with men advancing upfield in numbers and sprinting in from both flanks before delivering deft through-balls that beat the defence all ends up but manage to find a lone unmarked teammate in the attacking circle.

Imagine then, the nightmarish dilemma that the best goalkeepers face when two Dutchmen lurk in the vicinity of the post with one directing a scathing shot goalwards while another lies in wait to direct the deflection home.

Mirco Pruyser has the uncanny knack of positioning himself at a spot in the striking circle where the ball more often than not seems to find his outstretched stick inches in front of the post while Jeroen Hertzberger, Bjorn Kellerman, Bob de Voogd, and Valentin Verga cause havoc in and around the opposition 23-meter line.

Max Caldas' side seems to have an unlimited stream of talent coming to the fore, which only adds to the potency of the attacks and the Netherlands strikers will be on the watch list of quite a few think tanks when the Pro League 2020 gets underway.

#1 Australia

Jacob Anderson - Australia's sensational young striker
Jacob Anderson - Australia's sensational young striker

Off late, the kookaburras desist from launching the characteristic blistering attacks immediately after the opening whistle, but that is no reason for defenders to breathe easy - the persistent high press eventually keeps coming in waves, which sooner or later causes the men at the back to either err or wilt under the unrelenting pressure.

As if the more seasoned campaigners like Jake Whetton and Trent Mitton were not enough to force defences to crumble, the Aussies now have Dylan Wotherspoon, Timothy Brand, and Pro League sensation Jacob Anderson, who scored six goals in the inaugural season.

Australia is a side which prefers to keep the intensity up until the death irrespective of the match situation and a Colin Batch's marauding forwards will be keen to begin with a bang against their newest rivals Belgium at Sydney in late January.

Can the Aussies improve upon their tally of 49 goals in 16 matches which they managed in the first edition?

Most experts familiar with the Australian set up should have no hesitation to answer in the affirmative about a side who seem to be on a never-ending quest to set new standards - for themselves and for the world of hockey.

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Edited by Prasen Moudgal
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