Nations Cup: Key Battles

Nicolas Jacobi thwarts Barry Middleton

The Nations Cup is almost upon us. Hockey fans up and down the country have been buying tickets in their droves in order to watch the best of British face off against the Olympic Champions, Germany. Undoubtedly it will be a spectacular match with some high class hockey on display, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the key battles which could decide the match.

The Stoppers.

George Pinner vs. Nicolas Jacobi.

These two goalkeepers have made a name for themselves as being amongst the best in the world. Pinner was nominated in the recent FIH World Goalkeeper of the year category and Jacobi picked up a Champions Trophy gold medal in Bhubaneshwar in the last few months. The German stopper has carved a reputation as a hard man to beat, especially from penalty corners. Jacobi’s ability at set pieces may prove crucial as he comes up against Ashley Jackson, one of the finest penalty corner exponents around. Pinner too, is no slouch. Having made the No1 jersey his own, he has gone from strength to strength. His giant frame, his confidence and his agility will all need to be in full effect if Great Britain are to keep Germany’s array of attacking options at bay.

George Pinner 

The Leaders.

Barry Middleton vs. Tobias Hauke.

Hauke won the FIH World Player of the Year award in 2013 and has grown his collection of honours to quite an impressive haul. Two Olympic gold medals, two Champions Trophy gold medals and a raft of other honours, there isn’t much the Harvestehuder man hasn’t won. He operates in a unique role which has him dictating the play from deep positions, almost as a quarterback, with the freedom to burst forwards at will, showcasing his excellent skills as well as his ability to pick the right pass at the right time. Hauke is a class act.

Up against him is Great Britain skipper Barry Middleton. The Holcombe man is well respected across the globe and widely regarded as one of his country’s true world class talents. Middleton has an incredible engine, seemingly able to maintain the same level of intensity throughout an entire game. He manages to marry that endurance with some outstanding technical ability and his link up play with Ashley Jackson is at times, almost telepathic. Great Britain look to him and other teams fear him.

Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton in close quarters

The Talismen.

Ashley Jackson vs. Moritz Fürste.

Fürste, the FIH World Player of the Year in 2012 has a hockey CV that stands head and shoulders above most in the world game. He missed this year’s World Cup through injury, but was back to help his team to the Champions Trophy title in December. He has also helped himself to two Olympic Gold medals (2008 and 2012) a World Cup Winners medal (2006) not to mention his three Euro Hockey League titles (2008, 2010 and 2012). Fürste is graceful, yet powerful with incredible technique and eye for goal. Another supreme German talent.

Jackson just gets better and better. The 2009 FIH World Young Player of the Year has matured into one of the best players around. Nominated in this year’s FIH World Player of the Year category, Jackson is now England and Great Britain’s combined top scorer with 112 international goals. The East Grinstead man enjoyed a fine Hockey India League, captaining the Ranchi Rays to the title, winning the player of the tournament award and the top scorer award. Goals aren’t all Jackson has, however. His ability to beat a man, his vision, passing and link up with his teammates are second to none. He is a real stand out performer for his side and deserves his recognition as one of the best around.

Mo Furste and Tobias Hauke in penalty corner action

There are plenty of other incredible players ready to take the field when Great Britain take on Germany at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in April. This match also forms part of England Hockey’s cash-back scheme for clubs, so make sure you don’t miss out. Buy your tickets today as world class international hockey returns to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.