India lost to the Netherlands 2-3 after a spirited late fight and 1-3 to New Zealand after taking an early lead. However, former Indian hockey players cautioned before the start of the tournament that it would be a miracle if India made it to the semi-finals and a top-six finish would be more than good for the team, which made its Olympic comeback this year after eight years. But even for the top-six finish, India will have to ensure that they do not lose more matches. Michael Nobbs's boys seem to have a lot of issues to settle at the moment.
The Germans, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, are sitting pretty at the moment with two wins from two matches and look certain for the semis along with the Netherlands. The Germans have not been very convincing in their two wins although but they are an experienced pack and are known to peak up their game with each match. The Indians will face an uphill task to contain the powerful Germans, whom they have not beaten in an Olympic match in the last 44 years!
The Indian defence looks rattled, the attack seems to be out of sorts while there is a feeling that the team combination is not going right. The midfielders are giving too much of open space to the opponents and overall, the team mostly comprising of youngsters is struggling to cope with the pressure of playing in the Olympics for the first time. The Indians have pinned hopes on Sandeep Singh but his ineffectiveness in converting penalty corners in the second half after scoring one in the first half against New Zealand shows the team is paying for its over-dependence on one or two individuals.
Another star player for India, Sardar Singh, too, has not fulfilled the expectations for he was tightly marked by both the Dutch and Black Sticks. His only moments came against the Dutch when he helped India crawl back into the match for sometime. Shivender Singh, Tushar Khandker, SK Uthappa and SV Sunil have also failed to rise to the occasion. Only Ignace Tirkey, a veteran and a member of the Indian hockey squad at the 2004 Athens Games, has shown cool and composure on the turf.
It's to be seen how the Indians tackle the German challenge.
India versus Germany: Olympic encounters
India won 8-1 at 1936 Berlin Games, final
India won 1-0 at 1956 Melbourne Games, semifinal
Drew 1-1 at 1964 Tokyo Games, group match (then United team of Germany)
India won 2-1 at 1968 Mexico City Games, group match (West Germany from 1968-84 Games)
India won 2-1 at 1968 Mexico City Games, third-place decider match
Lost 2-3 at 1976 Montreal Games, classification match
Drew 0-0 at 1984 Los Angeles Games, group match
Drew 1-1 at 1988 Seoul Games, group match
Lost 0-3 at 1992 Barcelona Games, group match
Drew 1-1 at 1996 Atlanta Games, group match
Out of 10 matches, India have won four, Germany have won two while four matches have been drawn.
Today's match starts at 18.15 IST.