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hockey medal markets - men

Down to the final four in both events now, time to analyse the nations still in contention:

MEN

Australia - prohibitive favourites before the tournament but their group form has ranged from scintillating to mediocre. They were bully boys against South Africa in game 1 (6-0), Spain in the second match (5-0) and then Pakistan (7-0) in the final match when they were under a bit of pressure. In between though, they gave up two and three-goal leads respectively against Argentina (ended 2-2), and Great Britain (ended 3-3). They can't afford mistakes like that at the business end of the tournament - they are the team being hunted, and traditional rivals Germany and the Netherlands will not allow them an inch.

Netherlands - haven't lost a group game at the Olympics since 2000, but that hasn't led to a trio of gold medals - just one the one (Sydney) and they didn't even get a medal in Beijing. Slow starters, win only a 3-2 win over India, who are now terrible despite their history in the sport - no points in that group is just embarrassing. Since then the Orangemen have cruised through, including a convincing 3-1 win over Germany, next best in the group. Penalty corners are their forte, they have converted 6/15 so far in the tournament (40%). In comparison, Australia are 7/26 at the same stage.

Germany - reigning gold medallists, but they have the tough draw from here - Australia then the Dutch to retain their supremacy. 14 goals scored in the group games but also conceded 11, including 5-5 against NZ last night, but to be fair, there was nothing at stake in that game, they couldn't move from second, so the incentive to go soft in the tackles was there. They will step up against Australia, it's a long rivalry and it is unlikely to be a walkover for the Kookaburras.

Great Britain - surprised with a 3-3 draw against Australia during the week, a great fightback from 0-3. With the focus on this Olympiad, GB (and England, the more regular way they play) have improved greatly, but they are the outsider of the four in the semis. Can the dream continue? They conceded only one penalty corner against Australia, and they will need to be similarly miserly against the touch who have long been the best PC unit in the sport.

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It would be a massive shock if the final was not Australia vs the Netherlands. In the semis, Australia are 1.6 to beat Germany in 70mins, while the Netherlands 1.91 to beat GB in normal time. I'd have marked the Dutch as the stronger favourites.

2pts Netherlands to beat GB in normal time 1.91 - Paddy Power & Corals

Outright - I talked up a lay of Australia earlier in the week before they walloped Pakistan. 1.75 is perhaps a touch of unders but I wouldn't go too heavy on the lay now.

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