Coming off the back of a decent win against Ehime, Avispa now face a tough couple of weeks which will go a long way towards deciding whether they can get promotion this season.
Just 3 points behind JEF, and with a game in hand, they play the team from Chiba next week with a chance to leap-frog them into 3rd place. Whether they are able to do that depends on the result this week against 2nd place Ventforet Kofu.
Kofu have been playing very well during the middle part of this season, but while I think Reysol, JEF and even Tokyo Verdy, are going to be able to maintain pace for the whole season I can see Kofu might have a bad month at some point.
Hopefully that will start tomorrow, with an Avispa team playing with more energy in attack forcing a great away win.
Bookmakers are rightly saying that Ventforet are the favorites to win, setting a home win at 47%, with a draw and an away win given almost equal odds. I think Ventforet are a little too favoured from this with current league position given too much credence.
My Prediction: Ventforet Kofu 1 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka
Ordinarily this would be a good result for Avispa, but having lost to Thespa they really need a win to keep pace with JEF. If Okubo starts then they lose 3-0.