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After all the excitement of the football World Cup, it's time to see if the ladies who make up England's hockey team can do just that bit better than the boys out in Russia and go all the way to glory.

England will certainly be among the favorites for the tournament, not least because it is being played on home soil (or AstroTurf). They were bronze medallists in this year's Commonwealth Games, thrashing India 6-0 in the match for third place. Moreover, they almost made the final, losing 2-1 to New Zealand in the shoot-out after a 0-0 draw.

Nor should it be forgotten that English players made up almost the entire Great Britain squad for the 2016 Olympics, where they snapped up the gold medal after a rather more successful shootout against the Netherlands. Most of them are still around.

New Zealand, who won the gold medal on the Gold Coast, will be hoping for more success and silver medallists Australia will certainly fancy their chances, but with non-Commonwealth countries also involved there will be plenty of competition all round. The Dutch will be hoping to retain the cup, which they won four years ago by beating Australia in the final. Could they face England in a near-repeat of the 2016 Olympic final?

There will certainly be an Olympic theme to the event, as it takes place at the Hockey Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. If the atmosphere is like 2012, it will be quite a treat.

Starting on Saturday (July 21st) and concluding on August 5th, the event features 16 teams, split into four groups of four.

England are in Pool B with India, the USA and Ireland. Pool A features China, Italy, the Netherlands and South Korea; Pool C includes Germany, South Africa, Spain and Argentina; and Pool D brings Antipodean rivals Australia and New Zealand together in a repeat of the Commonwealth games final, with Belgium and Japan completing the line-up. 

The opening match will be England v India on Saturday at 14:00, with the hosts playing the USA at 20:00 on July 25th and Ireland at 19:00 on July 29th.

India's run to the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games demonstrated their standing in the sport, even if they were trounced by England in the bronze medal match in Australia. The USA will also be an interesting team to watch; four years ago, they managed to achieve fourth place despite coming into the tournament ranked 11th.

 

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