The Pro League is currently in full swing and the fourth edition of the prestigious country tournament will be over in less than three weeks. There are still twenty games each in both the women’s and men’s programmes. Which countries still have a chance to win the title and which countries have to worry about relegation?
For the men, India is currently the leader, but the Indians have already played out. The thirty points from sixteen games do not seem to be enough to conquer the Pro League title. Australia, the winner of the first edition, Argentina and New Zealand no longer claim the title anyway. They can no longer pass India in the ranking.
That means that there are still five countries in the race for the title: Great Britain, Spain, defending champion Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. However, with the consideration that one country is more likely than the other.
The British are second in the table, one point behind India with three games to go. They will play two more games against Spain and against Germany next week.
Spain occupies fourth place with seventeen points from nine matches. The team of national coach Max Caldas still has seven matches to go and it will therefore meet Great Britain (2x), the Netherlands (1x), Belgium (2x) and Germany (2x).
The chances for the Orange Men
The Orange Men of national coach Jeroen Delmée are fifth but have the same number of points as the Spaniards from as many matches. Only Spain’s goal difference is slightly better. The two countries will meet again on Monday. After that, the Netherlands will play against Germany (2x), New Zealand (2x) and Belgium (2x).
Olympic champion Belgium, like Spain and the Netherlands, has played nine matches, but has two points less than both competitors. National coach Michel van den Heuvel and his team still owe a duel against the Australians and doubles with New Zealand and closest competitors Spain and the Netherlands.
Germany is currently penultimate. The world champion has so far only collected eleven points from nine matches. Matches against the British (1x) and doubles with the Netherlands and Spain remain for the Germans.
New Zealand is ninth and last. With two points from nine matches, the Kiwis are the main candidate for relegation from the Pro League. Enforcement is not in New Zealand’s own hands, especially with a program in which it still affects Argentina (1x), Belgium (2x), Germany (2x) and the Netherlands (2x).
China is out in the women’s race. The team of national coach Alyson Annan achieved ten points from sixteen matches and is currently in seventh place. Whether the Chinese will still be in that position in less than three weeks depends on the competition.
New Zealand and the United States, eighth and ninth respectively, can still surpass China in the ranking. In short, the Chinese are in danger of relegation. New Zealand is only two points behind with seven games to go. The Americans are three points behind China and, like the Black Sticks, have seven games in hand. New Zealand still meets Belgium (2x), Argentina (1x), the Netherlands (2x) and Germany (2x) and in the most ideal case could still find out the provisional list leader Argentina, but it is not realistic.
The chances of winning the Pro League are lost not only for China and the United States, but also for Great Britain. With three games to go, the team can no longer reach the top two.
But who are still contenders for the Pro League title? In addition to list leader Argentina and number two Australia (each 29 out of fifteen), the numbers three, four and five, respectively, the Netherlands (25 out of 9), Belgium (17 out of 9) and Germany (16 out of 9).
Orange Ladies biggest contender
Of those five, the Netherlands is the biggest contender to win the Pro League for the third time. The team of national coach Paul van Ass still plays against the United States (1x), Germany (2x), New Zealand (2x) and Belgium (2x) of national coach Raoul Ehren.
The Belgian and German ladies will have to start a big catch-up race to turn the backlog of the Orange Ladies into a lead. In addition to a double against the Netherlands, the Red Lions also play twice against New Zealand and the United States and once against Australia. The Germans meet Great Britain (1x), the Netherlands (2x), New Zealand (2x) and the United States (2x).
In short, the calculations can begin and it promises to be an exciting final phase in the Pro League.