The 45-minute session gave an insight into the preparation that the Germans have employed, sweating over their goal-scoring.

Testing every possible variation and giving every player a chance to display his scoring skill, the session was an indication of how serious the five-time defending champion was about adding a sixth title.

The coach, though, insisted that there was no extra pressure. “It was a completely different team four years ago.

“We would only bring pressure on ourselves by setting big targets from this tournament but that, at the moment, is only to make the quarterfinals,” said Germany coach Andre Henning at the National Stadium on Monday.

The German squad is the youngest of all 16 teams. Five of the players are also part of the under-18 squad and Henning admitted the lack of experience would be a big factor in the team’s performance.

“Under-21 is not only about hockey and skills and tactic but also about the mental strength of a player and there could be some interesting results. There are a lot of question marks and I can’t say how the younger players perform on a big stage like this or in such a big stadium,” Henning admitted.

Tough grouping

The grouping hasn’t made it any easier. Germany is in Pool A with Belgium, Pakistan and Egypt and Henning knows any slip-up could prove costly.

“Both Belgium and Pakistan are very strong and experienced teams and one favourite team will be out after the fourth day, so every game is important,” he said, adding India, Australia and Holland to the list of favourites.

Henning also admitted that with senior coach Markus Weise coming for the tournament, the players here will have an opportunity to use the platform and get into the senior team for the World Cup and the Olympics.

With Mats Grambusch and Christopher Ruhr leading the charge with their experience in the senior team, captain Mathias Muller too was optimistic of his team’s chances.

“It’s a pleasure to lead a strong team. We also know that if we get to play against India, the crowd will be a big factor.

“Ours is a strong group and our first aim is to win the first game,” Muller said.

Last edition’s runner-up the Netherlands too is looking to go one step better. The Dutch begin against host India and coach Sjoerd Marijne was confident of his squad. “This team is very tough and we are geared up for the challenge and the boys are confident,” Marijne said after the team’s practice session.

The Netherlands team manager Floris Evers felt at home after being part of the Hockey India League. “I am waiting to see my friends from Ranchi Rhinos. But I am also confident of our opening match (against India),” he said.

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