Preview: Can China Defend Its Team Title?
(7 votes, average 4.71 out of 5)

The men's team final is even more unpredictable than the women's final. After a tight finish in qualification, several teams have a chance for medals.

China and Japan should fight it out for the gold, with the U.S. and Great Britain battling for the bronze. But the three-up, three-count format could spell much different results if any teams allow serious mistakes.

Predicting team results based on qualification scores is dicey and brings up the same rankings as preliminaries. Many teams are using gymnasts based on their scoring potential rather than simply by first-round results. In several cases, gymnasts who brought their team's fourth or fifth-best score on an event in preliminaries will get a new chance tonight to show what they can do.

World and Olympic champion China is the only team with anything much to lose in Rotterdam, and a silver medal will bring much criticism back home of the team's selection.

Using qualification scores and submitted lineups, let's a take a look at the eight teams in this evening's final:

FXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
1. China
Chen Yibing15.96616.000
Feng Zhe14.00016.43315.86615.266
Teng Haibin14.78315.63314.533
Yan Mingyong14.63315.700
Lu Bo14.63314.00014.96615.93315.341
Zhang Chenglong14.10015.766
42.73343.41646.63248.36646.84045.565273.552

China
Strengths: Difficulty
Weaknesses: Consistency, youth

The Chinese won qualification, but by a much smaller margin than in recent years. The team left home some huge scorers, notably reigning world champions Zhang Hongtao (pommel horse), Wang Guanyin (parallel bars) and Zou Kai (high bar). The biggest question is if the Chinese made the right decision in replacing Zou, the 2008 Olympic floor exercise and high bar champion, with newcomer Zhang Chenglong. Zhang Chenglong had the high score of qualification on high bar, but was unspectacular on floor exercise.

The Chinese can fall off parallel bars and still outscore the field on the event in team finals, but pommel horse is another question. Without Zhang Hongtao, the team will rely on Teng Haibin, the 2004 Olympic champion on pommel horse, but he failed to make the final in Rotterdam.

Olympic champion Cheng Yibing and world champion Yan Mingyong were 1-2 on still rings in qualification, and should bring the team huge scores in the third rotation.

FXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
2. Japan
Kohei Uchimura14.96615.13316.33315.36615.033
Koji Yamamuro15.63316.300
Koji Uematsu13.26615.43315.40015.733
Kazuhito Tanaka15.00015.06614.700
Kenya Kobayashi13.83315.433
Tatsuki Nakashima14.46615.166
42.69844.13246.06648.06645.83245.466272.260

Japan
Strengths: Artistry, Kohei Uchimura
Weaknesses: Inconsistency

The Japanese have the world's best gymnast in Kohei Uchimura, and could win their first world team title since 1978. The team could have beaten China in preliminaries if not for a few mistakes. If Japan puts up 18 hit routines Thursday, the gold could be theirs.

The team will rest Uchimura and his sore shoulder on still rings, even though he outscored replacement Kazuhito Tanaka in preliminaries, 15.400-15.000. Uchimura was fantastic in qualification, but obviously the Japanese coaches don't want to overextend him in team finals.

Japan is the world's most artistic team as a whole, but its atttention to detail is not properly awarded. On high bar in particular, the Code of Points seems not to allow the Japanese to score as well as they should. The fact that Uchimura's near-perfect sets are consistently outscored on high bar by routines that are quite simply execution train wrecks is something that needs to be addressed by the FIG Men's Technical Committee and its president, Adrian Stoica of Romania.

FXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
3. United States
Chris Brooks14.03315.93314.90815.500
Chris Cameron14.33313.866
Jonathan Horton14.70015.23315.90014.76615.266
Steven Legendre15.23315.991
Danell Leyva13.90015.23315.633
Brandon Wynn13.93315.400
43.86642.26644.49947.82444.90746.399269.761

United States
Strengths: High bar
Weaknesses: Pommel horse

The United States boast two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan Horton, who always puts up his best in the team final. Horton will do five events for the U.S., while his former Oklahoma teammate Chris Brooks will do four.

The team also has high bar finalist Danell Leyva and floor exercise finalist Steven Legendre. Legendre can bring the team a big score on floor exercise, where he has the highest Difficulty score in Rotterdam, and on vault, where he has the team's only 7.0 vault.

Pommel horse is still the Americans' Achilles heel. Without Tim McNeill and 2006 world bronze medalist Sasha Artemev, the U.S. was only 13th on pommel horse in qualification.

FXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
4. Great Britain
Kristian Thomas14.50014.36614.866
Daniel Purvis15.26614.60016.06614.83314.533
Samuel Hunter14.70814.65014.666
Theo Seager14.80814.70015.933
Ruslan Panteleymonov14.53315.86614.733
Louis Smith15.300
44.57444.60843.59947.86544.21644.065268.927

Great Britain
Strengths: Momentum, depth
Weaknesses: Inexperience

A best-ever fourth in qualification, Great Britain has absolutely nothing to lose in its first world team final. The team can make up big ground on the U.S. on pommel horse, where Olympic bronze medalist Louis Smith anchors.

The team lost 2009 world all-around silver medalist Daniel Keatings to a torn ACL this spring, but the rest of the team brought consistent scores in qualification.

Except for Smith's sometimes ragged form on pommel horse, the British has some of the best execution in the world. Dan Purvis excels on floor exercise in particular.

FXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
5.
Germany
Philipp Boy14.76614.20014.56615.80015.25815.566
Fabian Hambüchen14.80015.43315.700
Thomas Taranu15.266
Yevgeny Spiridonov14.36614.30014.633
Sebastian Krimmer13.63315.66614.500
Matthias Fahrig13.66616.100
42.79842.13344.63247.56645.19145.899268.219

Germany
Strengths: High bar
Weaknesses: Injuries

Germany, third in 2007, lost national champion Marcel Nguyen last month to a broken leg, and world and European champion Fabian Hambüchen has a sore Achilles.

But the 6-3-3 format could favor a team like Germany if it makes the most of its 18 routines. The exciting Phillip Boy, second only to Uchimura in qualification, will compete all six events tonight.

FXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
6. Russia
Sergei Khorokhordin14.56614.90015.17514.500
Maxim Devyatovsky14.66614.86615.00014.600
David Belyavsky14.53314.64116.16613.80014.666
Anton Golotsutskov14.03316.550
Igor Pakhomenko14.46614.166
Andrei Cherkasov16.100
43.23243.67343.93248.81643.97543.766267.394

Russia
Strengths: Vault
Weaknesses: Inexperience, pommel horse, still rings

Half of Russian's team is 19 or younger, a deliberate move by the coaching staff to give experience to its future stars. Russia is rebuilding its team after several weak years, and its goal is getting back on the podium in 2012.

Russia left home big scorers on pommel horse and still rings in favor of newcomers like David Belyavsky, 18, who will do five events in finals.

FXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
7. Korea
Yoo Won Chul15.46614.84115.100
Kim Jihoon14.33313.46615.166
Sin Seob14.366
Kim Soo Myun14.40014.32516.00014.73313.366
Yang Hak Seon14.03314.66616.433
Ha Changju15.00015.63314.300
42.76642.79144.49848.06643.87443.632265.627

Korea
Strengths: Vault, still rings
Weaknesses: Inconsistency

Korea's gymnasts in Rotterdam are still building international reputations. The team has only two event finalists in Yoo Won Chul (still rings) and Yang Hak Seon (vault).

The team was surprisingly only 12th on parallel bars, one of its traditional strengths, in qualification. The Koreans will need a better effort in finals to move past Russia.

FXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
8. France
Hamilton Sabot14.66614.50013.56614.733
Cyril Tommasone14.06615.50014.233
Benoit Caranobe
Arnaud Willig14.23314.53315.20014.70014.400
Thomas Bouhail14.96616.366
Gael Da Silva14.76614.20015.70014.866
43.79844.39943.23347.26642.49943.999265.194

France
Strengths: Vault
Weaknesses: Injuries

Already without Yann Cucherat, the French team suffered a major loss when Olympic all-around bronze medalist Benoit Caranobe tore his Achilles on floor exercise in qualification.

France could have taken advantage of a new rule that allows teams to use alternates in team finals to replace injured gymnasts, but the French did not enter any alternates in Rotterdam. It seemed to be an oversight by the French team, who left still rings specialist Samir Ait Said at home.

Nevertheless the French were pleased to make it to the finals, and can still put up some good scores from finalists Thomas Bouhail (floor exercise and vault) and Cyril Tommassone (pommel horse).

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