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Men's Hockey World Cup 2018: 5 teams with the best defence

Can India match the best defensive sides in the World Cup?
Can India match the best defensive sides in the World Cup?
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 26 Nov 2018, 16:01 IST
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"Teams with a good attack can win a match, but teams with a solid defence win tournaments."

Words of wisdom from Harendra Singh - the coach who guided the Indian juniors to a historic World Cup gold in 2016, and who was a defender himself during his playing days.

It was often said that Asian giants India and Pakistan never had a defensive DNA but the advent of European coaches to the subcontinent has, to an extent, altered their playing pattern with a lot more emphasis on tightening up at the back.

The Indians, in particular, now have a solid defensive structure in place and have become adept at knowing when to contain their attacking instincts, retain possession, and fall behind in numbers based on how things unfold on the field of play.

Yet, the staid, thorough, and sometimes dull monotonous routine of precision passing in one's own territory for long periods, before effecting sudden changes in gear to surge forward continues to be the hallmark of many European sides.

While long breathtaking solo runs may please the galleries no end, doing the less spectacular chores at the back-end repeatedly, and scrupulously, is what lays the foundation for a truly world-class side.

Let's take a look at five teams whose defences will be truly tough to breach at Bhubaneswar.


#5 England

Liam Sanford is fast making his mark as a dependable customer, and Mikey Hoare has thwarted many an attack since he first took on the Indians in the 2012 Champions Trophy.

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Adam Dixon has over 230 international caps to his credit while the English need to thank Mark Gleghorne for choosing to shore up their defence while brother Paul chose to play for Ireland.

The English who have always hovered at the very edge of greatness - finishing fourth at the Delhi World Cup in 2014, and fourth again in the The Hague last time around, will be looking to their defenders to perform to their potential if they are to finish atop the podium at Bhubaneswar.

No one who has followed English hockey will have any doubt as to the capabilities of Sanford, Dixon, Gleghorne, or the relatively inexperienced Luke Taylor - the only question being if they can withstand the pressure of the biggest stage.

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Published 23 Nov 2018, 13:54 IST
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