Barring the World Cup disappointment, where they finished a lowly ninth, 2014 has been a relatively good year for India in terms of results in international tournaments.

Under Walsh's guidance, India won the silver medal in Glasgow Commonwealth Games before clinching a gold after a hiatus of 16 years in the Incheon Asian Games, which also earned them a direct berth to 2016 Rio Olympics.
     
Just before the Champions Trophy, the Indians also registered a rare away Test series victory over world champions Australia, which definitely would have instilled plenty of confidence in Sardar Singh and Co.
     
But at the Champions Trophy, it won't be easy for the Indians to realise their podium dreams as the hosts will be up against the world's best teams in the eight-nation competition to be played at the newly-built Kalinga Stadium.
     
India are clubbed in a tough Pool B alongside formidable Germany, Olympic and World Cup silver-medallist the Netherlands and World Cup bronze-medallists Argentina, while Pool A consists of world champions Australia, Belgium, Pakistan and England.
     
Going by record too in the Champions Trophy, India hardly have anything to showcase as they managed to stand on the podium only once -- a bronze medal in 1982 -- and finished fourth four times, the latest being the last edition of the event two years back in Melbourne.
     
This time around, the Indians have a great opportunity to better their Champions Trophy record as besides some encouraging results of late, they will have home support to egg them on.
     
But the Walsh resignation saga will have some bearing on India's performance in the tournament and it remains to be seen how Sardar and Co. cope up with the reality under High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans, who has been given charge of the team.
     
Walsh, who was appointed India's chief coach in September last year, quit from his position last month
after his contractual talks with Hockey India and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) broke down.

The Champions Trophy would be India's first real test in the post-Walsh era and the man-in-charge of the team, Oltmans is fully aware about his job at hand.

Oltmans said he prefers to look forward than think about the future.
     
"The morale of the team is good because we clearly know there are distractions in every process. But at this moment we only want to look forward. We are just looking at the Champions Trophy and trying to make sure that we are prepared as good as possible," he had said.
     
"The boys are training hard. I know there are high expectations so we have to play accordingly. The boys are really keen to once again produce a fantastic performance in 2014.
     
"The boys are determined to give a tough fight to the opponents. The team is looking confident and geared up to play against Germany," Oltmans added.

India have more or less retained the core of the 16-member squad that won the Asian Games gold but added two extra players for the Champions Trophy, which definitely augurs well for the team.
     
Drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, S K Uthappa and goalkeeper Harjot Singh were four new
faces in the side.
     
Skipper Sardar Singh is expected to play the key role in the midfield, while backline will be under the watchful eyes of Birendra Lakra, V R Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh and Gurbaj Singh.
     
The hosts boast of a young and hardworking forwardline in Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, S V Sunil, Nikkin Thimmaiah and Lalit, while the goal will be manned by vice-captain P R Sreejeah, who is presently regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

But India's biggest strength perhaps would be penalty corners as the team has three quality drag-flickers in Raghunath, Rupinder and Gurjinder.

All said and done, it would take a Herculean effort from the Indian to upstage the mighty Germans, who won the Champions Trophy nine times, the last being in 2007 at Kuala Lumpur.
     
The Germans would be eager to break the six year lull and add another Champions Trophy crown here to make up for their disappointing show in this year's World Cup, where they finished a lowly sixth.
     
Germany have fielded a strong squad for the tournament, which includes world-class players like Moritz Furste, Tobias Hauke, Florian Fuchs and goal Nicolas Jacobi to name a few.
     
Both India and Germany very well understand the significance of a positive start to an important tournament like the Champions Trophy and would definitely be eyeing a win on Saturday.

Meanwhile in other games on the opening day of the tournament, Australia will play England (Pool A), Pakistan will face Belgium (Pool A) and Netherlands will be up against  Argentina (Pool B).

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