A return to Level-5 stadium with the games now coming thick and fast. The spectre of no points gained has now gone after a midweek away draw with Kobe, and I hope that this makes the team a little less nervous towards the end of games.
It is a game which on paper we have no chance with today as 1st play bottom, with Kashiwa Reysol visiting from Chiba. Their start to the season has been as good as ours has been bad, having got promotion with us last season they have clocked up 22 points already to leave them clear in 1st place.
Having seen them last season I am not really surprised by this as they were very well organised defensively, and had J2 player of the season Leandro Dominguez pulling the strings as a class act in midfield. Nakamachi gave him a battle last season but he still made 2 goals in the best performance I saw from an individual player.
To this team they have added the genuine quality of Jorge Wagner on the wing who has probably been the best import so far this season.
Despite this I think we have a real chance of getting something from the game, and can imagine you can get some attractive odds from a bookmaker for this.
Having played them in J2 last season we shouldn’t be scared of them despite their start to the season, and Shinoda should have some experience of their defensive movement and be coming up with a plan to deal with it.
Their fullbacks like to push up and supplement midfield, with the centre-backs going wider and the defensive midfielder dropping deeper. This movement worked very well last time they came, but has a big potential to be disrupted if we can get behind it. Shigematsu may well be an ideal player for this with his energetic running.
While we got our first points of the season mid-week Kashiwa were taken apart by Jubilo losing 3-0 and may have some lingering doubts about a few things.
I don’t expect Avsiap alumni Nakajima to be playing.
Shigematsu vs. Central defence
The defence pair can get a little separated as they try to cover the full-backs pushing up. If Shigematsu can exploit some of the space between them then the whole defence may be forced to stay deeper.
Sueyoshi vs Leandro Dominguez
I think Sueyoshi has to stay a little deeper, and give Leandro a bit of a kick. I thought he was lucky to stay on the pitch last time he came, and could be rattled. Staying closer to Leandro gives Jogo an extra job of coming deeper to help midfield and letting Shigematsu be a little more isolated.
Avispa 3 – 1 Kashiwa Reysol
I’m going to be very bold and predict a win for Avispa. I can’t imagine many other pundits will, but we have played them recently, we’re hopefully in better spirits than in recent games, and if we get a couple of early goals can make things difficult for their defence.