Avispa’s incredible run of victories needs to start today if they are to complete one of the most remarkable escapes from relegation anywhere in history.
They probably couldn’t have picked a better set of teams for their run-in, but anything less than a victory today will see them relegated in every way except mathematically.
In an archetypal 6-pointer they travel to fellow promotees and relegation strugglers Ventforet hoping to turn last week’s decent performance against Yokohama into 3 points.
I expect the team to be unchanged from last week, which I think is a huge mistake with Jogo and Naruoka trying to over-complicate things in attack, but Jogo did score 2 goals away to Ventforet last season so maybe he will be in good spirits.
I’d prefer to see a classic big man-little man combination brought in with Ramazotti and Shigematsu as the team needs some sort of tide change if they are to pull off a sudden miracle.
Yamaguchi may well hold his spot in the team even if Kobara is available again after performing well against Yokohama and being matched better physically with Mike.
Ventforet have also had their problems this season and have a new manager from the summer. The new manager has seen them adopt a slightly more offensive approach with Paulinho getting more time on the pitch, which is a worry for Avispa as we have struggled with his movement more than Havenaar.
The sub-text to the match will be Avispa’s abuse towards Genki, but this may have to wait as I think there is a good chance he won’t play.
Ventforet 3 – 2 Avispa
Both teams should be playing as it their lives depend on it, and I am particularly looking towards Nakamachi and Daiki to step up. unfortunately I think Jogo and Naruoka will start and we might go down a couple of goals before leaving it too late for a big come-back.
A draw isn’t good enough for either team.