Breda - The 37th and last edition of the Hockey Champions Trophy will kick off in grand manner as Pakistan take on arch-rivals India today (Saturday) at the BH & BC Breda in Netherlands.

In other matches of the opening day, home favourites and European champions Netherlands will play Olympic and Pan American champions Argentina, while reigning champions Australia will take on Olympic silver-medallists Belgium.

World's best six teams compete in the Champions Trophy and this year's line-up include reigning Olympic champions Argentina, world no.1 Australia, Belgium, hosts Netherlands, Pakistan besides India. Even though India (6th) are way ahead of Pakistan (13th) in the world rankings, but there is hardly any gap between the two teams when it comes to the head-to-head contests.

Led by the experienced Muhammad Rizwan, the team has been in Netherlands for the past three weeks in order to get used to the conditions and is confident of at least a podium finish as teams look to bid farewell to the prestigious tournament in style.

The team held their last phase of training camp in Netherlands, playing two practice matches and winning both of them. The final 18-member squad was announced on June 19 after the two-week training camp had ended.

“It is the final edition of the Champions Trophy and I am sure every team would want to make it memorable. Pakistan have the inaugural title of the competition to their name and we want the last edition to be ours too,” said Rizwan.

“It will be a challenging tournament with back-to-back matches and picking up those three points from every game will be the only thing on our minds in Breda,” he said. “The energy in the boys is at its peak and we are all optimistic about our chances of winning the tournament.”

Pakistan finished as runners-up in the last edition they participated in back in 2014, and have won three titles. However, all three of them came at home and the most recent one was back in 1994, with the other two being even further back in 1978 and 1980.

Pakistan made it into the final of the 2014 edition with a historic 4-3 win over India courtesy a last-minute goal by Arslan Qadir.

“I have very good memories of the last time we played in this tournament and would love to repeat my heroics from four years ago,” said Qadir. “Hopefully we can go one better this time around and win the tournament. We are fitter now than what we were four years ago so we can surprise our opponents once again.”

With hosts Netherlands, defending champions Australia and other traditional giants Argentina, India and Belgium also in the fray, Pakistan know they will have to be at their very best if they are to emerge from the tournament with any sort of credit.

“Our immediate goal is to do well in this tournament and there is no doubt that it will serve as a test for us to gauge where we stand as compared to the best teams in the world, especially with the World Cup coming soon,” added Rizwan. “We would love to prepare for the World Cup by doing well in this tournament.”

While the match between the two traditional heavyweights invariably garners added attention from fans from both sides of the Wagah border, skipper Rizwan insists the players will be treating it like any other game. “We are looking forward to claiming three points against them and begin the campaign well,” he added. “Every match is crucial and we have to do everything we can to ensure we finish in the top two and qualify for the final.”

The Indian hockey team would also be aiming for a fresh start, putting behind the disappointment of a poor Commonwealth Games campaign. Asian champions India have never won the Champions Trophy in its last 36 editions but will be hoping to claim the feat in the tournament's last edition. The best India has fared in the tournament was the runners-up finish at the 2016 event in London, losing to Australia in a shoot-out.

Claiming the title would be easier said than done for the eight-time Olympic champions as they come into the tournament on the back of a disastrous campaign at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where they finished fourth.

Over the past year, India had enjoyed convincing victories over Pakistan right from the final of Asian Champions Trophy in 2016 followed by a dominant double victory in the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London 2017 and the Asia Cup in Dhaka where India lifted the title after 10 years.

But under former India coach and High Performance Manager, Roelant Oltmans, Pakistan surprised India by scoring a late equaliser to earn a draw in the Commonwealth Games this year. Incidentally, it was the first match of the tournament and penalty corners will be Pakistan's preferred weapon yet again.

The 2014 Champions Trophy silver medallists Pakistan may have finished seventh at the CWG, but that result hides the fact that they went through the event completely unbeaten. Four draws in the pool phase -- against Wales, India, England and Malaysia respectively -- saw Pakistan finish fourth in their five-team pool, putting them in the 7-8 classification match where they defeated Canada 3-1.

But the founding nation of the Champions Trophy, Pakistan will be determined to add to the titles that they claimed in 1978, 1980 and 1994 -- victories that all came on home soil, in Lahore (1978 / 1994) and Karachi (1980) respectively. Pakistan's squad selected by Oltmans is a blend of experience and youth, with captain Rizwan Sr being one of eight players to have surpassed the 100 international appearances milestone. Shafqat Rasool is the most capped player in the group with 190 senior international appearances.