Thursday brings the 20th edition of the men’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship to the table with the city of Hamburg hosting for the first time, becoming the fourth German city to do so after Leipzig, Bonn and Berlin.
The hosts Germany (World Ranking: 2) are the reigning champions and will be hoping to delight a sizeable home crowd but know they will have a big competition on their hands. They start off against the rising force of Belgium (WR: 15), finalists in 2018, to close out the first session.
Austria are the world number one side and they start off against Switzerland (WR: 9) while the first game features the Netherlands (WR: 7) against the Czech Republic (WR: 5), making for a high octane day.
** You can watch every game of the 2022 EuroHockey Indoor Championships via www.eurohockeytv.org; a €3.99 tournament pass is available for all countries EXCEPT Germany for games involving Germany. those games will be geo-blocked due to live broadcasts on local channels. Further details here: https://eurohockey.org/2022/11/30/eurohockeytv-to-broadcast-eurohockey-indoor-championships/
Austria (pictured above)
Best finish: Winners (2 times)
Austria will be looking to continue their incredible record of winning a medal in each of the last seven EuroHockey Indoor Championships dating back to 2008, taking the top step of the podium in both 2010 and 2018.
Theirs is a squad with a lot of quality and experience, 80% of which is playing abroad in Germany or the Netherlands. It is very much the golden generation and figurehead of the Austrian Hockey Federation, with winning the World Cup and European title in 2018.
The likes of Sebastian Eitenberger, Fabian Unterkircher, Xaver Hasun, Patrick Schmidt and Mateusz Szymczyk link this squad to that vintage as does Michael Körper, “the most unique goalscorer” the country has ever produced.
He has 35 goals in his last 20 games in the European Championships and his international tally is currently recorded on the TMS system as 82 both indoors and outdoors.
He is one of six players based in Hamburg – Harvestehuder THC club mates Hasun and Moritz Frey are joined by Hamburger Polo Club’s Leon Thörnblom, Oliver Binder and Benjamin Kölbl.
The team is coached by indoor guru Robin Rösch who says he is “nnjoying every second to work with a lot of indoor world cup champions, and get together a new aim; that is winning more titles!”
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6112
Best finish: Silver (1976 and 2018)
Belgium are hoping they can be major contenders having recently returned with a bang to indoor’s top table. Prior to 2018’s silver medal in both the Euros and the World Cup, they had actually spent 42-years outside the elite level, picking their way through from the third tier in 2012.
There are a couple of links to the 2018 team with the vastly skillful Max Plennevaux key among them while Tom Degroote, Tanguy Zimmer and goalkeeper Matteo Gryspeerdt back once more.
At the other end of the spectrum, Dylan Englebert, Philippe Simar, Arnaud Dykmans, Quentin Bigare, Mallory Magnant and Romain Henet could make their debuts.
They were hit by an injury this week with Nelson Onana ruled out having initially been named in the panel for Hamburg. The Braxgata midfielder has been replaced by Manu Cockelaere.
Belgium completed their preparation with a 5-5 draw with the Dutch and a 6-2 win over the Czechs in a four nations tournament in Lasnes last weekend.
“These were real indoor encounters, with total commitment. The team is ready”, said Abdu Melouani, the team manager of those fixtures.
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6117
Best finish: Silver (1997 and 2012)
The Czech Republic are playing in their 14th successive top tier European Indoor Championship – the second longest chain after Germany – and will be looking to land a medal for the fourth time.
The last time they did that was in 2012 in Leipzig as they have mostly gravitated between fourth and sixth place. As such, they view themselves as a slight outsider who could cause a surprise but coach Miroslav Ludvík will have an experienced team at his disposal.
They have taken in preparation series in Hamburg and Belgium to date which Ludvik says was a “high-quality preparation”, running the rule over 27 players with the junior and senior panel involved at different times.
Tomas Procházka, now 38, is still a vital cog in the machine as are Martin Seemann, David Vacek and Lukas Plochy.
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6113
Best finish: Winners (16 times)
The kings of the indoor scene, they have won 16 of the 19 competitions played at this level to date and are the reigning champions following an outstanding performance in 2020 in Berlin.
Coach Rein van Eijk has included legend Tobias Hauke in the panel along with a number of indoor specialists and hopeful prospects which he describes as “a cool mixture!” He is usually the junior coach but stepped in when André Henning was co-opted to the senior setup.
“We are totally happy with the team. It’s a cool mix. We had five criteria for selection, ranging from fulfilling specific tasks in the team to strong indoor pedigree; to the team player spirit was most important to us; all meet at least four of these five criteria.
“The fact that we have seven Hamburgers in the team reflects the strength of the Nordliga in recent years in the Bundesliga indoors, but hopefully it will also mean that we will experience strong support from the public at the European Championships in Hamburg.”
Cologne’s Antheus Barry, 20, and UHC Hamburg player Michel Struthoff, 19, are the stars on the rise while Paul Dösch captained their 2020 success. Dösch is one of just a few looking to retain the crown – UHC’s Philip Schmid and HTHC’s Anton Brinckman are the others.
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6116
Best finish: Silver (1974 and 1980)
National coach Robert Tigges named a squad with six first-time participants in the EuroHockey Indoor Championships on Monday morning as the Dutch side aim to try and win a first title.
They were third two years ago having played in the B division in 2018.
The marquee newcomer is, perhaps, the 36-year-old Jeroen Hertzberger who has been a goal-machine outdoors before making his bid for inclusion in the Oranje indoor side.
The other new players are Bram van Battum, keeper Joey Fontaine, Jeroen Hertzberger, Lucas Middendorp, Wiegert Schut and Jasper Tukkers.
The other half of Tigges’ selection was already active in a European title tournament: Jochem Bakker, keeper Hidde Brink, Boris Burkhardt, Gijs Campbell, Nicki Leijs and Max Sweering.
Bakker and Burkhardt have played at three European Championships. Leijs and Sweering are the links to the 2015 World Cup indoor win with Teun Rohof just missing out – he was named as one of the reserves for this event.
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6114
Best finish: Third (1974, 1999, 2003)
Switzerland are back in the top tier following promotion in 2020 in Lucerne, winning the B division ahead of Belarus and Portugal. They have an experienced team with an average age 27.2 years, all of whom are active both indoors and outdoors.
A number of them have experience from outside Switzerland with Fabio Marelli lining out Blau Weiss Berlin in the Bundesliga, Sebastian Schneider with Nürnberger HTC, Lars Kleikemper with HTC Stuttgarter Kickers, Elias Brönnimann with Ludwigsburg, Gael Wyss-Chodat with Lara and Namur in Belgium, Fabio Reinhard with Nijmegen, Venlo and Loughborough. Martin Greder was named the best player of the 2020 European Championship B Division.
Following those experiences, most are back in their homeland with Luzerner SC having four players involved, Rotweiss Wettingen three, HC Olten three and HC Servette Genf one.
Boris Stomps is with Klein Zwitserland and Reinhard plays with Amicale, Anderlecht.
They have a new coach in Jair Levie, previously Catouche sporting director and HC Klein Switzerland women’s coach. He is supported by a completely new staff, including assistant coach Claas Henkel from UHC Hamburg.
Their preparations have taken in challenge matches in Hamburg and a trip to Brussels for games against the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Captain Fabio Marelli said of the competition: “We are looking forward to playing top indoor hockey in the German hockey capital Hamburg.
Levie adds: “It’s exciting to start directly at an A European Championship with this great team!”
Squad details: https://tms.fih.ch/teams/6119