LONDON (AP) -- Paul van Ass followed his own plan when he helped put together the Netherlands' men's field hockey team.
It's hard to argue with the results.
Van Ass began the year by leaving Teun de Nooijer and Taeke Taekema off the roster for winter training camps in Spain and Australia. De Nooijer and Taekema are the two biggest names in the Dutch game with nearly 700 caps between them.
Keen to let more talent flourish, the coach told worried fans: "At the Olympics I want to have the best team and that is not automatically the best 18 players."
When he announced the Olympic squad in June, he was true to his word. Two-time Olympian Taekema, feared striker Jeroen Hertzberger and Van Ass' own son, Seve, were notable snubs. De Nooijer, after eight weeks out injured, made the cut for his fifth Olympics.
Regarded as young and emerging, the Netherlands played the Olympic group stage with verve and style to emerge the only country to win all five games. The Dutch then blew out Britain in the semifinals, and boldly claimed Germany ought to be afraid when they meet in an Olympic final for the first time on Saturday.
"We are a team and not individuals," Valentin Verga said. "That is what hockey is all about, 11 against 11. In the past Holland played as individuals, but now we are playing like a team and that's a big clue."
Billy Bakker and Roderick Weusthof, who had three goals apiece in the 9-2 semifinal victory, and team high-scorer Mink van der Weerden have helped the Dutch develop a more balanced approach, paired with a stingy defense.
De Nooijer, who is trying for a third gold medal after wins in 1996 and 2000, has played a role in the success, too. Van Ass said the 36-year-old still sets the standard in training.
The European champion was just as impressive as the Dutch in its semifinal, knocking out top-ranked Australia, the world champ. The victory set up a rematch with the Dutch six days after Germany's 3-1 loss in pool play.
"We need to get some revenge on them," Chris Zeller said.
Zeller and his brother Philipp are among 10 players on the German team who won gold in Beijing, along with the Wess brothers, captain Max Mueller, Matthias Witthaus, Moritz Fuerste, Tobias Hauke, Oliver Korn and goalkeeper Max Weinhold.
They are coached by Markus Weise, who will be going for his third gold after leading the German women to victory in 2004 and the men in 2008. He's the first hockey coach to win Olympic gold with men and women.
"Markus is very good at getting us focused on the games and relaxing between them," Mueller said. "He has given us sharp pace and dynamic focus."