TopOfTheCircle.com

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Aug. 14, 2016 — Delicious quarterfinals on offer

With yesterday’s finish of pool play at the women’s field hockey competition at the Olympics, there is going to be something you haven’t seen before at an Olympics: a quarterfinal round.

Time was, there wasn’t even any Olympic knockout play; the teams who qualified played in a single-table league, and the results determined the outcome of the medals. By 1988, classification games were added to the schedule, but only the top four played for medals.

Now, there are four quarterfinal matches on Monday. The United States-Germany match is a replay of an pool match from the FIH World Cup of 2004, when the States beat Germany in a 4-1 result that really announced the arrival of the Applebees as a world hockey force. Germany, you see, was the 2004 Olympic champions and the 2006 winners of the Champions’ Trophy.

The other quarterfinals have amazing intrigue. Spain takes on Great Britain in the afternoon quarterfinal Monday, and it is an intra-European derby with political ramifications dating back to 1588 with the British attack on the Spanish armada.

The morning match sees New Zealand taking on Australia in an Oceania derby. Australia has been a tremendous team that has created a brand name: Hockeyroos. New Zealand has modeled its national team program on their neighbors, and this game could be the culmination of all of the efforts of the Black Sticks.

But the night game? If you have the capability of capturing digital video, set it up now.

In a game which apparently was moved into a prime-time watching slot for South American audiences, the two-time defending Olympic champions from Holland take on the only team to beat them in an FIH world-level final the last two years, Argentina. The Albicelestes, despite being only the fourth seed from Pool B, currently hold the 2015 World League title and the 2016 Champions Trophy — both at the expense of the Oranje. This could be a titanic matchup which could either yield a worthy champion by Friday, or a be a Phyrric victory for spending energy and effort before the semifinal round.

Should be a great day for hockey.

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