Comeback kings Germany take Belgium to their world, beat them to lift World Cup

Comeback kings Germany take Belgium to their world, beat them to lift World Cup

Niklas Wellen’ tournament began when he became a father. He ended up becoming world champion. And during that whirlwind journey, the World Cup MVP, as well as the World Cup final, anchored Germany’s late, late show on the road to crowned champions.

On a sparkling Sunday night in Bhubaneswar, under the bright lights of Kalinga, Wellen led the front, bravely defending half his team, conceding fouls, reclaiming the ball, scoring a goal and rounding the keeper twice on penalties as Germany won 5- 4 via tie-breaker to dethroned Belgium.

It was a finale for eternity. Unlike the previous two major finals, which, as is usual with finals, were low-key affairs, this one was a crazy affair. Belgium took an early 2-0 lead, but Germany, as in the knockout rounds, produced a remarkable comeback that not only equalized but also took a 3-2 lead in the last quarter. Belgium then gave Germany a taste of their own medicine by equalizing just a minute before the forced penalty shoot-out.

🥇2002 🥇2006 🥇2023

Congratulations to Germany on winning the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela and winning gold. #HockeyIndia #StarsBecomeLegends #HockeyWorldCup2023 #HWC2023

— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) January 29, 2023

Once again, the teams were inseparable for everyone after the first five attempts. This time it was Belgium who came back from a two-goal deficit to equal 3-3, just like at the end of regulation time when the final suddenly ended. And when 20-year-old Jean-Paul Danneberg lost to Tanguy Cosyns, the seemingly endless back-and-forth was finally decided. The Germans stormed onto the field and jumped on their young goalkeeper, who was only capped for his eighth cap, while the players locked themselves in a tight hug and screamed like madmen who couldn’t believe they had just struck gold.

From Delhi to Bhubaneswar: Germany’s class of 2013

Ten years ago, Wellen had scored a hat-trick in the World Junior Championships final won by Germany on Indian soil. On Sunday evening, seven players born in 2013 – who played under the same coach Andre Henning – marked Germany’s return to the ice hockey elite. After years of inferiority, this is the European giants’ first major title since London Olympics gold – they won Olympic bronze in 2016, but that doesn’t count for much for Henning.

You did it!


Crazy scenes after the win #HockeyInvites #HockeyEquals #Germany #WorldCup @DHB_hockey

— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) January 29, 2023

A qualified lawyer, Henning is hailed in Germany as the merger of Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp – a jump starter as a coach as well as the way his teams play. And in the last three weeks, the comparisons with Nagelsmann and Klopp have only increased, although Henning does not feel comfortable with it.

Gone are the days when Germany was efficient but adventurous. Henning’s Germany has evolved into a heavy metal counter-unit but has retained—rather recaptured—one crucial trait: late comebacks.

Germany coach Andre Henning expresses his delight after becoming champion of #HWC2023. @DHB_hockey

— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) January 29, 2023

Three times in three games at the World Cup, Germany has pulled off robberies that nobody but them would have expected. Against England in the quarter-finals, they scored twice in the last two minutes to force a penalty shoot-out, which they won. They then erased another two-goal deficit in the semi-finals before scoring the winner just six seconds from time to upset world No. 1 Australia.

But when Belgium – world and Olympic champions going into the final – took a 2-0 lead within the first 11 minutes, it felt like that was one comeback too many for Germany. Because despite their reputation for defending themselves regardless of the goal line and opponents, Belgium are considered masters at defending their lead.

It was an exciting final in which both teams showed the courage to take risks. Both teams doggedly guarded their zones, never giving themselves much room to overcrowd the central areas. Belgium used a combination of quick short passes and deadly air balls deep into the German half to open gaps. But it was Antoine Kina’s defence-splitting passes through a crowded center that set up both of their goals.

Final score: GER 3-3 BEL (SO: 5-4)

Comeback kings Germany turn over another 2-goal deficit in the finals to take the game to a penalty shootout and win their 3rd gold medal at the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cups and their first since 2006! #HWC2023

Belgium becomes silver medalist.

— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) January 29, 2023

After a 2-0 lead, Belgium tried to defend their space. It was less about parking the bus and more about taking fewer risks, although they continued to choke their opponents for space. Germany captain Mats Grambusch half-joked that it “isn’t nice” to see Belgium’s high pressure, which they used aggressively to shut down all German attacking avenues for much of the first half.

But as the game progressed, Germany began to shift the ball down the flanks, but more than ball movement, it was their run off the ball that threw the Belgian players out of position. Even if they ventured out of their zone for just a split second, it was enough for Germany to seize that space and create opportunities.

So waves once again influenced the game. He pulled the strings behind the scenes in the quarter-finals as Germany performed a miracle. In the semifinals, he added the finishing touch to give Germany another unlikely win. And on Sunday, Wellen’s goal, which opened the scoring for Germany, broke Belgium’s resilience.

Finally, it wrote another late German comeback. The man who became a father earlier in the season was the undisputed MVP of a notable World Championship.

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