Women's World League Final Preview

England walk out with Australia for the Final at the Investec World League 450x311

Before the first match of the tournament is played on Saturday against Korea, we take a look at how England's women's team has fared against their upcoming opponents in their previous matches.

England have been placed in Pool A for the Argentina World League Finals along with the Netherlands, Germany and Korea. While the Netherlands is currently ranked No. 1 by the FIH, England is the next highest ranked in the pool at 4th. The German team follows closely behind at 5th, while Korea comes in at the bottom of the pool, and the tournament, ranked 8th.

England's senior women haven't faced Korea in an official tournament since 2011 in Amstelveen, which was brought to a 2-2 draw. Going further back the two teams have see-sawed between wins, draws and losses, with Korea taking the edge by one win. However, with both of the Richardson-Walsh pair and Sally Walton in the team, all of whom have scored against Korea in the past, the girls should be able to even things out with a win on Saturday at 12:00 - though it certainly won't be easy.

At the same time on 1 December England face the Netherlands, which will undoubtedly prove to be a tough second match. After almost 80 matches,  England has only won a little over a quarter of them, with nearly a quarter again being brought to draws - including their latest meeting in Boom at the Trifinance EuroHockey Championships. The match was won after a tense shootout, and as England won't have such luck this time around (no shootouts in the opening round) they'll have to play for the win to take the maximum points.

In the last of England's pool games they'll have to square up against Germany. With a recent Championship defeat at the hands of Germany fresh in the England team's minds, they'll likely bring everything they have to make sure they aren't forced into the same situation. With a squad containing every player who scored against Germany in the past three years, they should be in a good position to do so at 14:30 on 3 December.

After the pool matches, the teams will go on to play different teams from Pool B dependant on how they scored after three games. As we can't know who will play who until the last pool game is over on Tuesday, we'll just run through all the potential opponents from Pool B.

Highest ranked in their pool (No. 2) and tournament hosts Argentina will likely do well in their matches, cheered on by a home crowd and accustomed to the Argentinean heat. In their last meeting with England they were beaten 4-2, much to the delight of the English supporters at the Investec World League Semi Final, but England will have to pull out all of the stops if they find themselves facing Argentina again - of all the matches they've played together, Argentina have won half.

Then there's New Zealand, 3rd in the rankings and a force to be reckoned with if England have to play them. While England have won more matches than they've lost, they've proven quite evenly matched in terms of number of goals scored/conceded, with a difference of only four. Ashleigh Ball is England's only player in the current squad to have scored against New Zealand in the past seven years with a goal in Delhi at the Commonwealth Games, but we've no doubt some of the squad's new players will be able to prove their worth here.

Skipping down a few world-rankings brings us to the other Antipodean squad in the tournament, Australia. 6th in the world, Australia has always proven a challenging opponent, and having played them four times in the past year we have a good idea of just how hard playing them in this tournament will be. With previous scorers Hollie Webb, Sophie Bray and Susie Gilbert all on the team, they will be looking to break the pattern this time around after an even split of draws and losses in 2013.

Right behind them and last in Pool B is China, 7th in the FIH World Rankings and the team that England have played against the least at 16 matches. In the last three games (going back three years) England has won twice, one of those being in Argentina. With a precedent being set, England should have high hopes if they face China again this year, but having won as often as they've drawn they shouldn't rest on their laurels. Helen Richardson Walsh and Hannah Macleod are the players to watch here, as they both contributed to the past two wins.