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

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Feature
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 01:17 IST

Belgium v Australia - Men
Belgium v Australia - Men's FIH Field Hockey Pro League Final Australia v Great Britain - Men's FIH Field Hockey Pro League

The Indians who never had a penchant for shadowing the opposition strikers with a grounded stick now defend as cleanly as the best in the business while several Europeans sides who loved holding back for the most part now prefer to adopt a full press.

Tightening up at the back is now an absolute prerequisite to achieving consistent results at the highest level irrespective of the kind of firepower a team possesses up front - and the outcomes of recent competitions have re-emphasized the fact that outfits with a sound defence are the ones that win tournaments most often.

The art of avoiding PCs is just as vital to a team's fortunes as converting the short corners, and the ability to time a tackle to perfection and mop up cleanly under immense pressure is the hallmark of a seasoned defender.

While the galleries marvel at the exploits of the spectacular strikers, the staid and ice-cool players who perform the less extravagant task of scrupulously manning the back lines often go unnoticed.

The Germans who were impeccable in defence until not so long ago have not been performing too well of late and the Argentines seem to be missing the likes of Lucas Rossi and Juan Gilardi.

We take a look at three Pro League teams whose defences will be tough to breach in the upcoming edition.


#3 Australia

The Australian team boasts of a solid defensive core
The Australian team boasts of a solid defensive core

While defence may not be the primary trait that one would identify the marauding Australians with, a closer look at the numbers brings to light how good the Aussies are at plugging the gaps at the back while their strikers make merry at the other end of the field.

At the Pro League earlier this year, Colin Batch's team conceded the least number of goals in the competition - just 29 in 16 matches.

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The Aussies deservingly won the Pro League, but the story wasn't any different at Odisha 2018 although the kookaburras had to settle for bronze at Bhubaneswar.

With just 4 goals against, the Australians were also the best defensive unit in the World Cup and the skills of Matt Dawson, Matthew Swann and co. make the Aussie defence one of the most impregnable fortresses in world hockey.

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Published 10 Dec 2019, 12:25 IST
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