So after a gap in posting during the pre-season we return to action after another break due to the horrific events which have been going on in Tohoku.
The problems are still very far from over but the J-League has decided to restart it’s schedule and it will see Avispa travelling up to Shizuoka for their first away match.
It’ll be the first game for me to watch on TV, and it looks like it could be another important one.
After playing well but losing against Niigata the team will be hoping to get something from the only team who fared as badly on the opening weekend (Shimizu losing 3-0 to Kashiwa). Whoever loses this one is quite likely to be clear bottom at the end of the weekend.
Shimizu suffered in the pre-season losing their star player Okazaki to Europe, and also lost other National team players Fujimoto and Honda. They haven’t yet found adequate replacements and it might be a good time to play them before the team is fully bedded in.
Having said that the Avispa team is also very new and it is hard to know which team will turn up. If the team from the first half against Niigata play then they have a good chance of taking the points, if they come out as they did in the 2nd half of that game they will lose. Pre-season has seen the second string players performing much better than the first team and I am hopeful some of them will be rewarded for this (but doubt they will be unfortunately).
I expect Yutaka to play in the hole in place of the suspended Naruoka, and Hideya and Matsuura to provide width. Jogo should be aiming to stay central, if he ends up having to go looking for the ball on the wing then we have no chance of scoring with anything other than a set-piece or wonder strike.
My prediction Shimizu 0-0 Avispa
Both teams are still trying to sort out their attack. I’d love it is Shinoda had some faith in Shigematsu or even Yoshihara and really take the game to Shimizu rather than the “safe” option of Jogo who will help pack the midfield.