Kataller Toyama 1 : 2 Avispa Fukuoka.
13′ Ishizu, 14′Kokeguchi, 83′ Funeyama
Avispa stayed in touch with th eteams in the play-off spots by getting a good away victory against Toyama.
It wasn’t the prettiest of results, but any away victory is good and will hopefully start us off on a run of wins against some of the lower level teams in the division.
It was a game with lots of positives, but also not an over-whelming success….
Positive 1: We got an away win in the pouring rain, in what can be a quite awkward stadium to play at.
Negative 1: It was never a very convincing victory against what were probably the worst opposition I have seen so far this season.
Positive 2: Like our last away victory against Yokohama FC we played a few players who are probably considered on the fringe of the squad, rather than the biggest wage earners. They all did OK, and the team had a very youthful look to it in some corners.
Negative 2: It is possible to tinker with the team too much. While some level of rotation is good I think the team need a spell of consistency and playing together to get comfortable in the new tactic and formation.
Positive 3: We finally scored a corner! After a whole season of floating ineffective balls at the far post we had one whipped to the near post and scored. We tried different things at corners and looked a lot more threatening.
Then we scored from a free-kick for the first time in a long time too.
Negative 3: We scored from 2 set pieces but didn’t make a lot of clear chances from open play against poor opposition. The weather will have played a part, but there still should have been more.
Positive 4: We had a pefectly good goal from Nishida ruled out for off-side, and at least one other occasion when Kanemori was ruled off-side when a defender was standing right next to him and impossible not to see. Fortunately this game the referee’s decision didn’t cost us points.
Negative 4: We still seem to be getting a lot of calls against us. These things are supposed to even out over a season, but it does seem we aren’t popular with referees.
Positive 5: Osmar looked quick, powerful, and played a couple of very nice touches; one back-heel to Ishizu in particular was great and should have led to a goal.
Negative 5: Having got himself fit and forced himself into the manager’s plans he is now suspended (although it is only against Gifu so may be a positive).
Positive 6: Ishizu keeps scoring, he certainly does have a knack for getting goals.
Negative 7: Again at the end of the game he gave the ball away far too easily when we just needed to keep possession. I don’t know if he is tired, or nervous, or lacking concentration, but he needs to add ball retention to his game.
My Man of the Match : Mizutani
Seems to be happening a lot recently, but once again he made 2-3 saves which saved what looked to be certain goals. Once in a 1-on-1, and twice from headers from crosses at point blank range.
Avispa have had a difficult month of May, a month in which they have played a local derby, had matches against teams in 1st, 2nd and 4th (Gamba, Kobe and JEF), and an away match agsint a team who finished in the play-offs last season.
Despite this we have done pretty well. The performances have been very good at times and we’ve picked up enough points to climb the table a little and stay within touching distance of the play-offs.
Today’s game is the first in a sequence of what look like much easier games. I’d expect us to be heading out onto the pitch thinking we should be winning our matches from now until the away game with Kyoto in mid-July.
Thinking first about today we make the long trip north to Toyama.
Toyama are one of the weaker teams in the division who have never finished a season outside the bottom 6 in the division, and don’t really seem to be progressing as a club.
They had a better than usual start to the season, but have then dropped off in recent weeks and found themselves dropping down to their more normal surroundings of the bottom places in J2.
They hold a special place in my heart as the first game I ever watched, with Avispa coming out 6 – 0 winners, and while I don’t expect that result today I am hopeful of an Avispa win.
Avispa have done well against the stronger teams, but now have to think about how to break down the weaker ones.
Toyama aren’t going to pour forward in attacks against us, a draw isn’t a bad result for them in trying to stay clear of the relegation places.
I hope we have an attacking outlook because of this, but expect our fairly standard away formation. Kanakubo is likely to return in midfield ahead of Jogo, with Jogo taking one of the forward roles.
I really hope to see a lot more of the ball into the channel for Jogo to run onto and make the defence face their own goal. He never comes to meet the ball so this ball needs to be played into space rather than to feet as defenders always cut these out by simply stepping in front.
Toyama are likely to start with the same members who played last game against JEF. and did well before eventually losing.
They had 17 shots in that game and need to be kept to half this many in our game.
They play with the 3 man defence formation which has become very popular in J2 in the last 2 seasons, and is a formation we’ve faced 3 times so far this season and done very badly against each time.
If we are to get anything from this game, and have a hope of reaching a play-off spot the team needs to be set up better to deal with the numbers in midfield these formations provide.
The way to do it is to stretch the defence wider and force Toyama to commit numbers back. Balls into the channels for our hard-running wide forwards is the key in this with Kanakubo then hitting the box late.
My Prediction : Kataller Toyama 1 : 3 Avispa Fukuoka
I’ll predict a win, with some goals.
Hopefully both attacks prove too much for the opposite defences, and an early goal could make both teams come out of their defensive shape and open the match up a bit.
If it stays goalless for the first half it’ll stay goalless.
Avispa 2 : 3 Gamba
39′ Leandro, 44′ Leandro, 59′ Kurata, 70′ Ishizu, 82′ Ishizu
The end result looks fairly close for Avispa, and at times during this game we did match the favorites for promotion, but were largely outclassed by players of a much higher calibre.
Avispa started with quite an adventurous team, with Jogo in midfield showing that we were going to try and attack Gamba. This seemed like a good idea to me as the strength of Gamba’s attack, and ability of the midfield to pick a pass meant that our defence were going to be unlikely to with-hold attacks for 90 minutes.
This proved correct very early in the game as a long ball through the middle found Koga and Park too far apart and allowed Leandro to run straight through the middle. Mizutani did well in goal, and then someone (Tsutsumi?) managed to run across and make a last ditch clearance. It was an early warning, and a chance I wouldn’t expect someone as lauded as Leandro to miss.
Leandro was the big threat before the match, and I wasn’t really very impressed with his pace, power or movement in the first half. This then worried me as if he doesn’t stand out in any of those areas then to have scored the goals he has it probably means he’s the sort of striker who somehow manages to score the majority of chances he does get.
This proved correct as late in the 2nd half he collected the ball on the outside of the box from Endo (the sort of position Avispa get into on lots of occasions and try to find 3-4 passes into the box) and curled a shot into the far corner. It looked easy, but the fact that no Avispa player would even attempt it showed that it isn’t.
He then repeated the feat 5 minutes later to pretty much kill the game 2-0 before half-time.
After again giving the ball away weakly in our own half it was played quickly and directly forward to Leandro who went straight at goal and expertly finished once more.
If Avispa had any chance of getting anything from the game it need a fast goal in the 2nd half, what happened was Gambe extended their lead to 3.
After again losing possession in their own half the ball was played out to the left wing where a cross into the box wasn’t dealt with by a defence who hadn’t had time to regroup. Bouncing across the box it was easily converted at the far post by Kurata.
I was worried before this game that Gamba would have the intelligence, skill and guile to break down the Avispa defence; we were now 3-0 down and they hadn’t been made to, rather quickly capitalised on our mistakes.
We seem to have a system in place which has no obvious plan of attack apart from pressing high and trying to punish mistakes. Unfortunately teams we play are often staying well organised and not pushing forward to risk making mistakes, while we are doing the exact thing we wnat the opposition to do.
The game looked over, and Gambe took their foot off the gas, but then Ishizu came on and made the Gamba fans nervous.
If there is one player in the Avispa squad who does shoot when anywhere near goal (as Leandro had done so effectively in the first half) it is Ishizu.
His mazy dribbles and style of shooting where he gets air-borne do look a little like someone doing a Messi impression, but when it works it is quite effective.
His first goal came after he got the ball in a central position and just let fly with a shot from well outside the box. The keeper would be dissappointed to be beaten at his near post, but it was a great strike, hit at pace and shows what can happen if you’re willing to have a go. Finding the 50cm inside the post was always going to get at least a corner, and in this case a great goal.
Avispa hadn’t given up, and they actually started playing the ball into the right channel which Jogo has been needing for the last 3 years. Running onto balls he was able to hit shots across goal and put crosses in.
Ishizu got another goal with a first assist for Mishima as he was given a ball on the edge of the box and again hit a shot early and just inside the post.
With balls into the channel and early shots from distance we were causing problems, and it isn’t from doing anything apart from what has been obvious for much of this season.
Unfortunately a full comeback in front of 14000 fans wasn’t to be, but noone could complain about the performance apart from a couple of poor decision in midfield which got punished badly.
My Man of the Match – Daisuke Ishizu
Only on the pitch as a second half substitute but got 2 goals doing exactly what we have needed this season in just having the confidence and responsibility to hit shots at goal.
Today’s game in likely to be the biggest of the season in terms of fans coming to the stadium as Gamba Osaka come to town with their collection of National Team players.
In Yasuhito Endo they have probably the most famous current J-League player, a native of Kyushu (Kagoshima) and this is probably the last chance he’ll ever be coming to Level-5 stadium (in my opinion).
As expected, Gamba are up near the top of the table but haven’t had things as smooth as fellow relegated team Kobe. They currently stand 3rd after losing to Kobe last weekend and will be looking to get back into the automatic promotion spots with a win today.
AVispa have only won 1 game in 4 but are actually playing their best football of the season at the moment playing up against some of the tougher opposition in the last month.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that we seem to play much better against the stronger teams; our team is set up to try and counter teams and exploit spaces, which is very difficult to do if a team sits back and asks us to come onto them.
Today’s game is likely to see a very similar line-up to the Kobe game 2 weeks ago. The defensive unit is most important and will have Miyamoto returning to the team after being rested against Yokohama. Omata looked fit enough to start at left-back, with Tsutsumi going into the middle.
It’s quite tough on Park gun after a few good performances, but Tsutsumi has been one of the stand-out players.
In midfield we are likely to play with Okada as one of the central players ahead of Nakahara to add more defensive strength, and probably Kanakubo alongside him as Funeyama cramped badly last week and Kanakubo plays better when he starts.
In attack I think Kanemori will start alongside Jogo and Sakata. Personally I’d play Ishizu and have Kanemori on the becnh, but Pusnik seems to have faith in the young players to turn it on against the big teams.
Gambe are the leading pioneers of the volante system in the J-League, with Endo pretty much writing the book on how to play the position. They will play with him trying to unlock the defence with his range of passing, with Leonardo looking too good for this division as striker, and Ienaga making late runs into the box.
It’ll be the biggest test of the Avispa defence to try and withstand this attack for 90 minutes. Having said that Endo’s legs have gone to the extent that he sometimes doesn’t even train, and if Jogo can play his deep-lying attacker rold to avoid giving him space it could cut out the supply line.
A lot of the match may depend on the referee and how much protection he gives to the Gamba players.
An interesting point for the Avispa fans is the possible return of Daiki who spent 3 years at Level-5 playing as Captain and a popular player.
I expect he’ll get a good reception, but is probably only going to get a chance at full-back if he can get off the bench.
Avispa 0 : 1 Gamba
I expect another brave defensive performance, but can’t see us holding out their attack for the whole game.
A large part of this will come down to the referee who is going to be put under a lot of pressure from Gamba to clamp down on our pressing game.
Yokohama FC 0 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
There were a few surprises in the starting line-up for this game as Pusnik rotated his squad, presumably with one eye on the tough game against Gamba next week and due to having played only 3 days ago in what are now quite warm conditions.
Nishida came in to face his old club, and Kanemori started in place of Mishima, with Osmar completing a total change to the front 3. Tsutsumi continues to show his versatility by playing at right-back, with Omata returning at left-back after injury.
Despite all the changes Avispa looked good in the first half, with the defence and midfield solid and allowi ng the front 3 to chase down everything in front of them. It looked like the referee might lose control of the game at one point, with Kazu Miura showing that at age 48 he is still capable of refereeing a game as well as playing. As soon as. I saw Kazu was playing I was hopeful of a victory; a team in J2 cant realistically expect to carry someone his age regardless of the occasional good touches he brings.
Avispa have won numerous corners in every game this season without ever looking dangerous from them. This game had a big difference in that we had about 3 in a row which there was some danger from, including one which was won after Kanemori had won the ball at the byline and crossed back for Nishida to ‘dummy’ (read air-shot) and Funeyama to smash against the bar with a slight deflection.
The resulting corner was recycled back to Nakahara on the left who hit a shot towards goal where Tsutsumi still up from the cormer could expertly touch into the near post. It showed the benefit of taking shots on goal. Whether being deflected, blocked, diverted, or even scored, there have been too many occasions this season when we havent even made the keeper worry about a shot.
It wasTsutsumi’s first goal for the club, and thoroughly deserved for his performances in a variety of positions which have probably made him my player of the season so far.
Pusnik made a couple of changes in the second half, and the team started to look a little stronger on paper, but less effective on the pitch. I think it was as much to do with Yokohama substituting Kazu, as our changes.
With the home crowd behind them Yokohama started toi play with more energy, and were all set to equalise on 2-3 different times. Chances again cameat the back post after crosses from the wing and corners, but tbey didnt have the skill to ever really test Mizutani who was again solid throughout. The only time Mizutani missed a. Cross it ended up goi ng right across goal to substitute Nagai who sent it along the 6 yard box where no Yokohama player met it for a simple finish.
Mizutani is making at least 1 amazing save a game at the moment,and so he did again today by getting a handto a back post header which deflected theball onto the post and behind.
Avispa were really making nothing in attack at the other end, and coukd have been punished more in injury time by again not being ‘streetwise’ enough with a minute left to play. After already giving lossession up easily fromgoal kicks they won a throw in deep in the Yokohama half which should have signalled the en of the match. Instead of holding the ball they gave the ball straight back with an ill advised attack. They got away with a couple of things today, but need to learn from it for the match against Gamba next week.
My Man of the Match : Tsutsumi.
Scored the winning goal, but was again totally calm and solid defence playing in his 5th different position of the season so far.
As the Golden Week holidays come to their final day Avispa play their 2nd match in 3 days as they travel north to play Yokohama FC.
Yokohama FC probably deserve the moniker of a yoyo team more than any other in Japan having been formed only recently from the ashes of Yokohama Flugels to then get promotion up to J1, then come back down to J2 where they seem to alternate between seasons finishing within a couple of points of promotion before ending up near the bottom the following year.
After making the play-offs last season they haven’t started this season well only winning 3 games so far, losing to some quite poor opposition in the process.
Avispa are coming off the back of a good defensive perfromance against league-leading Kobe, whose manager was moved to say we are a team who are going to get stronger as the season goes on.
The defence is likely to be the most important managerial decision for Avispa as Pusnik needs to decide whether to keep the back 4 who did so well against Kobe, or bring in Kazuki to try and combat the aerial threat of Jumbo.
I’d keep it exactly the same as the players need confidence and to build understanding more than anything else at the moment and deserve to keep their place.
Midfield is more straight-forward and I expect the same middle 3 as against Kobe as that was our ‘away’ formation anyway. Of the 3 I’d like to see Nakahara given a rest, but Pusnik seems to need him in that ‘conductor’ role and maybe feels Okada doesn’t have the range of passing.
Kanemori or Ishizu will return as a forward in place of Mishima. I hope Sakata stays in the team, but generally We have played Jogo as main striker away.
Any time we play Yokohama it is a chance to re-unite with Jumbo, and as with any team in which he plays he will lead to a certain style of play.
Having been weak at the back post so far this season it is of most importance that one of the central two commits to an aerial battle and wins it.
Yokohama are slowly shedding their image of being a retiremnet home, but are still a very old team who we should try and hassle and harry using our new fitness.
Yokohama FC 1 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
The team seems to do better when playing away with other teams pushed to attack so i think we will score, but haven’t done well enough at deep crosses into the box to stop Jumbo knocking a ball back across goal for someone to score.
Avispa Fukuoka 0 : 0 Vissel Kobe
A goalless draw usually indicates a game which is fairly forgettable, but this one was probably the best game I’ve seen this season. It was going end to end for long portions of the game, and only remained goalless due to some excellent saves by both keepers.
Avispa lined up with a slightly more defensive formation than has been seen recently at home, but the changes definitely worked out well with Okada getting around the pitch in midfield, and Tsutsumi being excellent at left-back.
Mishima got his full debut in place of Kanemori, and had some good touches while sometimes being bullied off the ball a little too easily.
Each team had a similar formation and tactic of pressing high up the pitch, with Kobe looking a little more threatening due to the presence of the impressive Tashiro at the head of their formation who was getting his head to everything with Popo and Mazinho giving no time to the Avispa players either side of him.
Despite a couple of early attacks it was Avispa who came closest to opening the scoring after a free-kick from Kanakubo hit the underside of the bar and bounced clear. It couldn’t have come much closer to going in, and wouldn’t have been unwarranted as Avispa were expansive in attack and solid at the back with Koga putting in probably his best performance for the club on his return to the team.
As the teams came out for the second half there was the expected change for Avispa as Kanemori came into the team and immediately became one of the key players on the pitch. He isn’t much bigger than Mishima, but has an ability to ride through challenges better and use his upper body more effectively.
Jogo was trying to make runs into the right channel, and Nakahara finally spotted him and played a ball for him to run onto. Sliding Kanemori through on goal it looked sure he would score but ended up hitting his shot too close to the keeper.
Avispa seem to now have a tactic of using the wing and putting low crosses into the box, but I don’t know why they aren’t playing balls into the channel more often as the wingers both prefer to be running onto balls, especially Jogo.
Within 10 minutes Koga made his only real mistake of the game by giving Mazinho too much space to turn on the ball and slip through free on goal. It seemed even more certain to be a goal than Kanemori’s, but Mizutani pulled off a fantastic save diving down to his right.
He would go on to make 3 more saves from headres at the back post (our weakness this season) to keep us in the game. He was only beaten once, but Park Gon had done very well to get back on the line to slide in and clear.
There was time with 10 minutes left for Kanemori to have a chance to win the game for us after chasing down a ball being played back to the keeper, but his shot went just wide after being forced out wide in going around the keeper.
It was a good point for Avispa, but more than the point it was a good performance from a young team. I thought the best player on the pitch was Kobe’s striker Tashiro; a big guy who won everything in the air and held the ball up really well. On looking him up it turns out he is from Fukuoka, and went to Fukuoka University.
It will be great to make the play-offs, but the biggest effect from Pusnik’s first season will hopefully be in showing the best youngsters in the area that if they come to Avispa they will get chances to play which will help us more than anything in the long run.
My Man of the Match – Mizutani
All the defence did well in this game, especially Koga and Tsutsumi, and will hopefully take confidence going forwards, but if it wasn’t for Mizutani pulling off 2-3 amazing saves we wouldn’t have got anything from this game.