21:08:2015 – It’s game day! Tonight the men’s event gets underway and we conculde our overviews with the Women’s Pool B

Women’s Pool B

Germany – world number 5

The reigning champions, Germany claimed their second title in Boom two years ago as their shoot-out prowess shone through in the crucial stages. They have medalled in all bar one of the last nine Euro tournaments, making them one of the sides to be feared.

Indeed, their incredible fighting spirit was in evidence in Valencia in the World League  semi-final, producing late fightbacks against both Spain and Argentina to earn draws in the knock-out games and then win in shoot-outs. Goalkeeper Kristina Reynolds was outstanding in that tournament and she will once again battle with Yvonne Frank for the number one spot.

Just eight of their 18 players that won the title two years ago are back again with Janne Muller-Wieland, Eileen Hoffmann and Franziska Hauke providing key experience. Coach Jamilon Mulders has made two changes to the team that competed in Valencia. Anissa Korth and Nina Hasselmann have been left out of the team for London with Katharina Otte and Selin Oruz replacing them. Julia Muller and Lisa Marie Schutze miss out after recent injuries.

Of the stars in Spain making their way, Charlotte Stapenhorst was named young player of the tournament there and is looking forward to developing further, saying: “We definitely want to build up on our performance in Valencia and are very excited to play the Euros in London.”

** Click here for the full interview with Charlotte Stapenhorst

England – world number 7

The hosts are probably in their best shape to breakthrough and win gold for the first time after two silver medals and six bronze on the European championships record. In their last major outing as a group – bar Scotland’s Emily Maguire – the Great Britain side swept to seven straight wins at the World League in Valencia with goalkeeper Maddie Hinch recording six clean sheets.

Under Danny Kerry, the side has bounced back from a rough World Cup campaign in some style. Those performances showed their intent, playing with a solid defence and attacking menace as poacher Sophie Bray adds an extra menacing foil to play off Alex Danson at the fulcrum of the forward line.

The panel includes 14 of the side that won silver in 2013 in Boom. Sam Quek makes her first appearance after injury since captaining the team at the 2014 Champions Trophy while Sabbie Heesh comes in for Kirsty McKay as the second goalkeeper in the two changes from Valencia. Kate Richardson-Walsh is included for yet another Euros having made her debut in the competition in 1999.

Speaking about his team, Kerry said: “It’s been impressive watching the training group off the back of an Olympic qualifying period, showing commitment to hard and focused training. It is testament to the type of resilience required during a very intense period of international competition.”

Italy – world number 16

One of the teams to watch in the women’s game in recent years, Italy are becoming a regular threat to top 12 ranked sides and could be a real nuisance in this group. They earned their place in the EuroHockey championships with victory in Cambrai two years ago and will play in the competition for the fifth time as a result.

Seventh is their previous best finish – in Manchester in 2007 – but they have shown more ability of late to pick off big results. In 2013, USA were beaten in in London while they drew with both Korea and Japan earlier this summer. Indeed, their Olympic hopes from the World League were only extinguished by India in a shoot-out in Antwerp.

They makes two changes from the World League panel with goalkeepers Natalia Shinoni and Maria Donati trading places while Belgium-based Maria Galli comes in for Agata Wybieralska.

Captain Chiara Tiddi is one of the side’s stalwarts and she says that while her side missed out on Rio in July, they will “face this European championships with the goal to obtain positive results that will contribute in the growth of this team”.

** Click here to read the full interview with Chiara Tiddi

Scotland – world number 17

Scotland have competed in nine out of 11 European championship tournaments with their fifth place finish in 1991 the best outcome. They are unique in this competition in that they are not coming to London – barring Emily Maguire – off the back of an Olympic qualifying tournament earlier in the summer.

Following three months of centralised training in the build-up to the tournament, the side beat Germany 4-3 but fell 3-0 to Spain in a couple of topsy-turvy days a fortnight ago.

Gordon Shepherd’s side will feature three tournament newcomers allied to well-heeled performers like the diminutive Vikki Bunce, Kareena Marshall, Nikki Lloyd and Mannheimer’s Nikki Kidd.

Defensive lynch-pin Becky Merchant, meanwhile, says there is plenty of young players looking to make their name in London.

“Louise Campbell, known as ‘squidge’, is our little pocket rocket, she’s a really exciting young, fast forward with huge potential. Sarah Robertson, although she has played in a few major tournaments and is part of the GB squad, is still one of our youngest players and has really come into her own in midfield. A real threat for us.”

** Click here for the full interview with Becky Merchant

TV Listing:

UK and Ireland – BBC (England, Scotland and Irish matches and Finals – BBC red button, BBC2 if England reaches finals)

The Netherlands – NOS (all Dutch games, finals and daily highlights packages)

Germany – Sport 1 (all German matches, men’s final) and ZDF/ARD (highlights package)

Belgium – Telenet (all Belgian matches, semi-finals and finals)

Spain – Teledeporte (all Spanish matches and finals)

France – Ma Chaine (all French matches)

Southern Africa – Supersport (semi-finals and finals)

Star Sports – Qualification games and Finals 

For updates:

Event Website – www.eurohockey2015.co.uk

Follow us on – @EuroHockey2015 / @eurohockeyorg #EHC2015 / #UEHC2015

Facebook – www.facebook.com/EuroHockeyorg / www.facebook.com/EuroHockey2015