FIH Pro League: All to Play for at the Halfway Mark

April 25, 2019, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

Content Courtesy of the FIH

On Friday, April 26, the group phase of the inaugural FIH Pro League reaches its halfway point when Germany’s women face The Netherlands at the Mönchengladbach Hockeypark. The 64th match of the bold, groundbreaking global ‘home and away’ competition will be immediately followed by Match 65 as the Germany and Netherlands men’s teams take to the field at the iconic host venue of FIH Men’s World Cup in 2006. 

On the eve of one of the most fascinating and enduing rivalries in international hockey, it is the perfect time to reflect on what has been a dramatic and action-packed first half of the FIH Pro League, where the world’s finest teams and players have produced some wonderful moments over the previous 63 matches.

Whilst there is a lot of hockey still to be played, the race for that all-important top four finish in the FIH Pro League - which brings with it the dual prizes of berths in October’s Olympic Qualifiers and June’s showpiece FIH Pro League Grand Final at Amstelveen’s Wegener Stadium - is very much up and running. 

There have been some scintillating moments in the women’s competition. 2018 world champions The Netherlands (points percentage: 85.71) have shown their staggering strength in depth, with head coach Alyson Annan seamlessly blending numerous exciting youngsters with the existing players to lead the way at the top of the standings. Four wins from five away matches coupled with two home wins ensures that the mighty Dutch remain the team to beat. 

The tricky 2018 endured by Argentina (83.33%) has well and truly been forgotten thanks in no small measure to the return of brilliant 34-year-old striker Carla Rebecchi and head coach Carlos Retegui. Rebecchi - who returned to the international stage after a three-year absence and less than a year after starting a family - has been in sparkling form up front. Las Leonas are, indeed, roaring once again. 

Belgium’s Red Panthers(72.22%) have also been baring their teeth in recent months, tearing up the FIH World Rankings to become serious challengers for a top four finish. The lowest ranked team in the competition have been a revelation, with their superb away wins over New Zealand and Australia, the latter being the only team to beat The Netherlands in the first half of the season, giving an indication that that there could be plenty more to come from the team coached by Niels Thijssen. 

Despite home losses against Belgium, New Zealand and Argentina, Australia’s Hockeyroos (62.96%) can feel proud of their performances at the halfway stage, especially after their superb 5-0 Anzac Day victory over the Black Sticks in Auckland this week. With only away matches left to play, their form in Oceania - aided by some wonderful individual displays from goalkeeper Rachael Lynch and Mariah Williams - leaves them in fourth place and very much in contention.   

Outside the top four, it is Germany (53.33%) who are the nearest challengers in fifth position, having opened up a significant gap between themselves and sixth-placed New Zealand (36.36%) thanks to their differing results this week. Germany’s 2-0 triumph over Great Britain on Wednesday combined with New Zealand’s home defeat against Australia has created something of a gulf between the two sides, although much can change over the next two months.

The bottom three positions of the FIH Pro League ladder are occupied by Great Britain (27.78%), China (23.33) and USA (12.5%). Olympic champions Great Britain will be looking forward to getting their home campaign underway after six matches on the road, while China and USA have both shown occasional moments of brilliance in the first half of the season. China goalkeeper Ye Jiao has been in sensational form so far, while draws against high-flying Argentina and Belgium certainly suggests Janneke Schopman’s promising young USA team has some real potential.

FIH Pro League - the stats story so far … 
After 63 matches (36 women / 27 men)

Women’s competition

Total goals: 131
Field goals: 77
Penalty corners: 51
Penalty strokes: 3
Top scorer: Olivia Merry - New Zealand (8 goals in ten matches)

Total number of cards: 78
Total number of green cards: 65
Total number of yellow cards: 13 
Total number of red cards: 0

Highest scoring team: Netherlands (23 goals in seven matches)
Most team circle entries: New Zealand (214 in 11 matches)  
Most team saves: China (47 in 10 matches)

To see more in-depth statistics from the women’s competition, click here.