MELBOURNE (AFP) Olympic champions Germany are aiming to protect their top world ranking in the mens field hockey Champions Trophy, getting underway here on Saturday. The Germans are up against Australia (2), Spain (3), Netherlands (4), South Korea (5) and England (6) in the last big tournament before the World Cup next February in New Delhi. For the second consecutive year traditional rivals, India (ranked 12) and Pakistan (7), have failed to qualify for the Champions Trophy, contested by the top six-ranked teams in the world. Germany won Olympic gold at Beijing after a disastrous 2008 Champions Trophy where they avoided last place with a 3-1 victory over South Korea. Germany have lost senior strikers Christopher Zeller and Florian Keller as coach Markus Weise rebuilds his team with Martin Haener, 20, and Florian Fuchs, 18, from the national gold medal Junior World Cup team. The Champions Trophy is the first major tournament for Australia coach Ric Charlesworth since his appointment last year and following his troublesome time as technical adviser to India hockey. Charlesworth coached the Australian womens field hockey team to gold medals at two Olympic Games (1996, 2000), two World Cups (1994, 1998) and four Champions Trophy tournaments (1993, 1995, 1997, 1999) and is under pressure to ensure Australias mens team wins this home tournament. Charlesworth has retained 10 players from Beijing including match-winning striker Jamie Dwyer, the international Player of the Year in 2004 and 2007, and has brought back veteran Brent Livermore, rejected for last years Beijing Olympics. Australia have played lead-up matches against Malaysia, Canada and Spain, but have yet to settle on their defensive combinations to complement full back Mark Knowles. Spain have retained 13 of their silver medal team from Beijing and have a new coach, Dani Martin, but will be without the prolific-scoring Santiago Freixa, who is now playing in Argentina. Spain lost 8-2 to Australia in Perth last Saturday but turned the tables Sunday to win 2-1, to underline their Champions Trophy claims. The Netherlands have struggled to produce consistently good results after winning the 2006 Champions Trophy. The Dutch crashed to seventh place in the 2006 World Cup, revived to take bronze at the 2007 Champions Trophy, fell to fourth at the 2008 Champions Trophy and the Beijing Olympics and took bronze at the 2009 European Championships. Teun de Nooijer is arguably one of the sports greatest midfielders and gives Dutch coach Michel van den Heuvel attacking options along with the stick skills of Taeke Taekema and strikers Jeroen Hertzberger, Rob Reckers and Floris Evers. South Korea have traditionally been the fittest team with the ability to hit back with goals in the final minutes of matches. Experienced strikers Hyo-Sik You and Nam-Yong Lee, with penalty corner taker Jong-Ho Seo, are the key to South Koreas attack, with a question mark over whether inexperienced goalkeeper Myong-Ho Lee will be up to the task of defending penalty corners against the worlds best. England are the improvers, forcing their way back into the top rankings with fifth placings at the 2006 World Cup and Beijing Olympics and winning the European Championships last August ahead of Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. England will focus on avoiding the tournament wooden spoon and elimination from the 2010 Champions Trophy, to be replaced by the winner of Decembers Champions Challenge in Argentina where New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Argentina and Belgium are challenging for promotion into next years Champions Trophy in Germany.