It all comes down to goal difference on the final day of the Pool B matches here at the World Cup as Belgium and Germany eye the top spot and a quarterfinal berth.
Belgium will take on Japan in the first game from the pool before Germany faces South Korea here at the Birsa Munda International Stadium. The defending champion will want to virtually secure the last eight spot before Germany’s game and not take the crossover path.
Both Belgium and Germany are on four points each, with the Red Lions edging out the Honamas by a goal difference of two. The European teams should get the wins respectively, but the margin of victory will ensure automatic qualification.
Michel van den Heuvel’s Belgium dominated play in the last match against Germany but couldn’t translate into goals, while Andre Henning’s men rode out the early storm before growing into the game to come out with a creditable draw.
Belgium, which walloped Korea in the opening game, will continue its attacking brand of hockey against Japan. One area that Belgium will want to rectify before the knockouts will be its penalty corner conversion rate – two goals from 12 attempts, with drag-flicking specialist Alexander Hendrickx scoring just once.
“They [Japan] are a strong side, and we don’t often play them. We were lucky that we played Korea earlier, and they are playing styles that are kind of similar. They are a very disciplined team, and we need to bring our A game tomorrow and try to score more goals than Germany does,” said Hendrickx.
German forwards Niklas Wellen and Christopher Ruhr will be key in the side getting a big win and having a chance of overtaking Belgium. Gonzalo Peillat and Tom Grambusch can provide the ammunition from penalty corners.
Korea, which is on three points after the win over Japan in its last match, is likely to take third place and move into the crossovers.