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Sports

Men's hockey final: Germany vs. red-hot Dutch

Germany have reached their second consecutive Olympic men's hockey final, but they have a tough challenge ahead against an in-form Dutch team that have yet to lose a game in London.

Germany's gold medal hopes in a team sport at London 2012 lie with the men's field hockey squad, who play in the final on Saturday. The reigning gold medalists will have to upset a hungry Netherlands team, who are looking for their first Olympic gold in twelve years.

Team sports have not been Germany's strong suit at this summer's games. The men's volleyball team fell to Bulgaria in the quarterfinals. The equestrian team, while gold medalists in eventing, lost the dressage title for the first time since 1980.

The women's field hockey team, considered favorites to medal, shockingly went out in the group stage after 0-0 draw with New Zealand. In other sports like basketball and football, Germany did not even qualify.

Road to the final

The Germany got off to a strong start in the men's hockey tournament, recording three consecutive wins against Belgium, South Korea, and India. A subsequent loss to the Dutch and draw with New Zealand put the Germans second in Pool B, setting up a semifinal against Australia.

Germanyput on a commanding performance against the defending world champions and Beijing bronze medalists on Thursday. Australia's Kieren Govers put his team ahead in the 22nd minute, but Germany's Moritz Fürste responded five minutes later to level the score. Glenn Turner again put Australia ahead just after halftime, but from there on out it was all Germany.

The Germans scored three quick goals starting in the 54th minute, cruising into the final with a 4-2 win.

"Awesome, it's a great feeling to be in the final. It was our dream and our goal when we got here and now here we are," German goalie Max Weinhold told the Reuters news agency after the game.

Taking on the Dutch

The Netherlands have been on a tear at the London Olympics. They have yet to lose a game, and waltzed through group play outscoring opponents 18-7 and finishing five points ahead of Germany top win Pool B.

In the semifinal, the Dutch were in fine form. They picked apart Great Britain, breezing into the final with a 9-2 victory, including hat tricks from Roderick Weusthof and Billy Bakker.

"It is difficult for me because my head is somewhere else now, and I am very happy and proud," Captain Floris Evers told the AFP news agency afterward. "We promised to come and play our game, which is to attack, and we did."

The Germans have a hill to climb against the Netherlands. Though the Dutch came up short in their last Olympic final in 2004, they have the momentum to return to the form that saw them win consecutive gold medals in 1996 and 2000.

The Germans, three-time champions in their own right, will look to stand in their way at the Riverbank Arena in London.