Hockey World Cup 2018: Spain expected to spring a surprise

Spain has always been a side that provides thrills for the spectators with the team's ability to punch above its weight and it will be among the team's to watch out for in the Hockey World Cup 2018.

A week’s exposure in Bhubaneswar before the World Cup would have helped Spain to acclimatise to the conditions.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Spain will be one of the exciting teams to be seen in action in the World Cup. In fact, the Red Sticks have always been a side that provides thrills for the spectators with their ability to punch above their weight. But the dynamics of the team has changed in the recent times, especially due to the exit of 10 players after the 2016 Olympics. Nevertheless, being competitive has been the mantra of the team, which is now a mix of youth and experience.

Head coach Frederic Soyez, a former French player, has been in charge of the Spanish side for the last four years and has guided the team to fifth place in 2016 Olympics and the European Championships and through qualification for this the World Cup, claiming fourth spot in the Hockey World League Semifinals in Johannesburg.

Soyez expects his eighth-ranked side to surprise some of its opponents in Bhubaneswar as he believes the difference between the top four and the following eight is “not so big.” The two-time silver medallist — in 1971 and 1998 — and one-time bronze medal winner, in 2006, will be banking on experienced hands such as Quico Cortes, Sergi Enrique, Pau Quemada, Marc Salles, Miki Delas and Xavi Lleonart, and promising players including Quique Gonzalez de Castejon and Marc Bolto.

Spain, which started its preparations in September with the squad playing thrice a week and scheduled some Test matches against quality European sides such as Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, was expected to land in Bhubaneswar six days prior to the World Cup.

Even though Spain experienced similar conditions in the HWL Finals in the Odisha capital exactly a year ago, the week’s exposure would have helped in acclimatisation to the weather and familiarisation with the new-look stadium.

Squad

Alejandro de Frutos, Albert Beltran, Alvaro Iglesias, Diego Arana, Enrique Gonzalez de Castejon, Ignacio Rodriguez, Marc Salles, Marc Bolto, Marc Serrahima, Mario Garin, Miquel Delas, Pau Quemada, Pepe Romeu, Quico Cortes, Ricardo Santana, Sergi Enrique, Vicenc Ruiz and Xavier Lleonart.