Great Britain vs Spain: 5 keys to victory

Alex Danson netted the winner against USA. Credit FRANK UIJLENBROEK

Great Britain’s sterling efforts in the pool stage have set up a quarter final clash with European rivals Spain. The Redsticks, coached by Englishman Adrian Lock have been on an upwards trajectory since he took over. A youthful group who had been looking towards Tokyo 2020 qualified for Rio and have acquitted themselves well, edging out the higher ranked China for a place in tonight’s quarter final. Danny Kerry’s side are on a fine run of form and will go into the clash brimming with confidence. We take a look at where this game could be won and lost.

1. Momentum.

Momentum is a key component in any sporting arena. Danny Kerry’s side have won five from five in the pool stages so undoubtedly come in with plenty of confidence. If they can continue the momentum and settle quicker than the Spanish it could be a long night for Adrian Lock’s side.

2. The first goal is crucial.

If Great Britain strike first that confidence they have been building over the pool stage will soar. Both Kate Richardson-Walsh and Danny Kerry have mentioned that we are yet to see GB at their best. Could an early goal be the catalyst for that peak performance?  On the flip side, Spain are a very solid defensive unit. They are stubborn, well drilled and hard to break down. If the Redsticks get their noses in front, they will also grow in confidence and will make life increasingly difficult for Danny Kerry’s team.

3. Defence vs. Attack.

Both sides have spread their goals around with each of them boasting six different goal scorers during the pool stages. Alex Danson is the tournament’s second top scorer with three goals but has been ably supported by, amongst others, Helen Richardson-Walsh, Lily Owsley and Sophie Bray. Both teams have threats all over the pitch. How their opponents manage those threats holds the key to success tonight.

4. Sheer will to win.

“In all the games we’ve shown a bit of difference in what we can do.” says Kate Richardson-Walsh. “We’ve been goals up, goals down, played with ten and played with nine. We’re showing we can do all kinds of hockey now we want to play at our best.” Put succinctly, what the captain is alluding to is her team’s ability to “find a way to win”. With Spain promising to be no pushover that bloody mindedness could well be crucial for GB.      

5. The role of the leader

Inspirational captain? Check. Most capped in the squad? Check. Part of the team for over a decade? Check. Defensive lynchpin? Check. There are plenty of parallels between the two captains; Kate Richardson-Walsh and Rocio Ybarra both have the experience to call upon to drive their side on towards the semi finals. Who will emerge victorious?   

You can tune in on the BBC Red Button and online to see all the action tonight. The match starts at 10pm. Don’t forget to follow our coverage on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

maddie jtj 450