It has been a long time coming, but the welcome return of the FIH Hockey Pro League is so nearly upon us. On Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 September, ‘Hockey at its Best’ will resume in the German city of Düsseldorf, where the host nation will entertain the national women’s and men’s teams of Belgium.
The fixtures – which take place at Düsseldorfer Hockey Club 1905, conveniently located less than 90 kilometres from the Belgian border – will see the teams face each other twice over the two days. The timings of the matches are the same on both days, with the women’s teams taking to the field at 1530 local time (CEST - UTC +2), with the men’s fixtures set to start at 1800.
Among the measures being taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved in these matches, the games are being played behind closed doors and in adherence to the safety guidelines of the competing governing bodies and local authorities. There will also be no pre-match handshakes or flagbearers, while athlete and staff testing within the respective ‘team bubbles’ being an essential element during this time. All participants, including the appointed officials, must have presented a negative corona test within 48 hours of the first match. The host National Associations have been working tirelessly to ensure that venue hygiene meets the highest possible standards, with the well-being of everyone involved – from athletes and staff to officials, broadcast workers and event organisers – being top priority.
Although the fans may not be allowed into the stadium itself, all four matches will be available to watch via television or digital streaming thanks to our , as well as on the new Watch.Hockey app, which will be available for download via the respective Apple and Android App stores on 17 September.
Germany v Belgium (Women & Men)
Where: Düsseldorfer Hockey Club 1905, Düsseldorf (GER)
Dates: Tuesday 22 & Wednesday 23 September 2020
Times: 22 Sept – 1530 | 23 Sept – 1530 (local time | CEST – UTC/GMT +2)
Match pages: |
Summary: While Belgium women will arrive in Düsseldorf sitting fifth in the current FIH Hockey Pro League standings, two places higher than their seventh-placed hosts, it is worth remembering that Germany had not even played their first match when COVID-19 brought the competition to a standstill. Die Danas were strong performers in the 2019 edition, finishing fourth in the ‘league’ phase before going on to take the bronze medal in the end of season Finals event. Although there is no Finals competition this time around, Germany – who also claimed European bronze last year – have every reason to believe that they can put together a serious title challenge. Both Head Coach Xavier Reckinger and captain Janne Müller-Wieland have expressed their enthusiasm about the return of international hockey, eager to get back to doing what they do best. Star attacker Charlotte Stapenhorst – who has been out of international action for over a year due to serious injury - could make her 100th appearance for Die Danas, if she is involved in next week’s fixtures.
Belgium’s Red Panthers have six points on the board following a fruitful tour of Oceania in January and February, where they were only beaten once in their four matches against the higher-ranked home teams. Belgium battled to two draws against Australia in Sydney, claiming a bonus point in Match 2 thanks to a shoot-out win before travelling to Auckland and inflicting a 2-1 home defeat on the Black Sticks, thanks to strikes from Ambre Ballenghien and Anne-Sophie Weyns. New Zealand were 4-1 winners of their second meeting, but Belgium had proven yet again that they are capable of taking on the big guns in this competition. Despite being without ace goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe, who is pregnant, Belgium will feel confident about their chances of giving Germany a run for their money in Düsseldorf.
Current FIH World Ranking: Germany: 4 | Belgium: 11
Current FIH Hockey Pro League position: Germany: 7 | Belgium: 5
Final standings - FIH Hockey Pro League 2019: Germany: 3 | Belgium: 5
Head-to-heads in all competitions (since 2013 – 17 matches)
Wins: Germany: 12 | Belgium: 4 | Draws: 1
Goals scored: Germany: 42 | Belgium: 22
Team pages (squads & statistics): |
MEN’S MATCHES Times: 22 Sept – 1800 | 23 Sept – 1800 (local time | CEST – UTC/GMT +2)
Match pages: Match 1 | Match 2
Summary: Germany’s men managed to play two FIH Hockey Pro League fixtures before COVID-19 bringing world sport to a halt, claiming five points from a possible six in Valencia against Spain in January. Match 1 ended with the scores locked at 2-2 before Die Honamas took the bonus point by winning the shoot-out. Germany were comfortable winners of the second game, triumphing 5-1 thanks to strikes from Christopher Rühr, Timur Oruz, Marco Miltkau, Lukas Windfeder and Constantin Staib all on target. With their re-start fixtures being a double-header against Belgium, the current table-toppers, reigning World and European champions, and the top ranked team in the world, the opposition does not come any tougher. There is certainly a sense of excitement amongst Germany’s athletes, with 33-year-old Tobi Hauke – a veteran of over 300 matches and a double Olympic gold medallist (2008 & 2012) – recently stating: “you could wake me up at midnight and I would be ready to play against a national team”.
Although Germany are certainly raring to go, the size of the challenge posed by the brilliant Belgians will not be lost on them. The Red Lions stormed to a breath-taking 8-0 victory the last time they faced Germany in the FIH Hockey Pro League, with Shane McLeod’s team avenging a home shoot-out loss suffered two weeks earlier by producing an utterly devastating away performance in Krefeld, Germany. Before the COVID-enforced break, Belgium showed excellent form in the FIH Hockey Pro League, returning from tours of Australia, New Zealand and India with 14 points from their six matches. India were the only team to beat them, taking a 2-1 win in Bhubaneswar on 8 February before Belgium hit back to claim a 3-2 triumph in Match 2 the following day. The Red Lions scored nineteen times in those six matches, with Alexander Hendrickx (4) and Felix Denayer (3) top scoring for the team. While it is possible that there will be some rustiness after such a lengthy break, Belgium will be aiming to continue where they left off and remain, indisputably, the team to beat.
Current FIH World Ranking: Germany: 6 | Belgium: 1
Current FIH Hockey Pro League position: Germany: 8 | Belgium: 1
Final standings - FIH Hockey Pro League 2019: Germany: 6 | Belgium: 2
Head-to-heads in all competitions (since 2013 – 19 matches)
Wins: Germany: 7 | Belgium: 9 | Draws: 3
Goals scored: Germany: 43 | Belgium: 55
Team pages (squads & statistics): |
A total of 18 FIH Hockey Pro League matches are set to be played between September and November, with the remaining 76 scheduled between January and May 2021.
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