Aussie test awaits Germany in World Cup final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Defending champions Germany would be gunning for a historic hat-trick of titles while Australia would be eyeing their first in 24 years when the two rivals lock

Updated: March 13, 2010 14:56 IST
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New Delhi:

Defending champions Germany would be gunning for a historic hat-trick of titles while Australia would be eyeing their first in 24 years when the two rivals lock horns in the final of the Hero Honda FIH hockey World Cup here on Saturday.

Notwithstanding the fact that they are here with a young and relatively inexperienced side, with their consistency, the Germans have showed what it needs to rule world hockey.

Germany, who triumphed in 2002 and 2006, came into the tournament with only three players - Jan-Marco Montag, Moritz Furste and Matthias Witthaus - from their victorious campaign in the last edition in Monchengladbach.

But it hardly affected their performance at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium and they approach the summit clash with an unbeaten record in the tournament so far.

Though without their main penalty corner specialist Christoph Zeller in the side, the Germans started their title defense on a cautious note with a 2-2 draw against plucky South Korea.

From there on they made significant improvement match after match, proved by their convincing 4-1 victory over an impressive England in the semifinal.

Under young Maximillian Muller's captaincy, the Germans have bettered their performance with every passing match.

The match will also give the reigning Olympic champions a chance to avenge their last year's Champions Trophy defeat at the hands of Australia in Melbourne, which was incidentally the last meeting between the two sides before the World Cup.

However, in terms of statistics, the Germans have an upper hand as they defeated Australia three times while lost only once in the four matches they played in the World Cup.

Interestingly, the last four World Cup encounters between the two sides ended in Germany's favour.

If that was not enough, it was the same Kookaburras whom Germany overcame in the last two World Cup finals. And going by their record, Muller's men would be aiming to add insult to Australia's injury for the third consecutive time.

Captain Muller too agreed that Germany's consistency and big match temperament stood them apart from other teams in the tournament.

"We have been consistent in this tournament. That made the difference. People say we have the big match temperament and we have the metal strength. It is just like that," he had said.

Australia, on the other hand, have been in ruthless form after their shocking 3-2 loss against England in their tournament opener.

Luke Doerner has been spot on with penalty corners and has so far converted seven of them in the tournament to lead the goal-scorers chart.

To add to that, the trio of Glenn Turner, Desmond Abbot and experienced Jamie Dwyer is a force to reckon with upfront and it will be a test of character for the Muller-led German defense.

Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of both the sides, the match is expected to be a contest between Australia's lethal attack and the German's defence led by captain Muller from the front.

For Australia, the high stakes associated with the game can be ascertained from star player Dwyer's statement, who said the Aussies want to end their final jinx against Germany on Saturday.

"Twice when we came up against Germany in the final we had lost. We want to change it by winning tomorrow. They (Germany) are a very good and solid side, hopefully we will take our chances and win the final tomorrow," he said.

"It could be German defence versus and Australian attack and we hope we will get some early goals," Dwyer added.

Australia coach Ric Charlesworth too said that his boys are determined to change the script on Saturday against the resilient Germans.

"This German squad is different (from 2006). But whatever squad they came with they have always been tough customers. Germans always play consistent game. Everybody talked about German defence but they have also very good forwards," he said.

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