After three 1-1 draws in the last 3 weeks it wouldn’t be the most unlikely result again this week with 2 teams who aren’t a millions miles away from each other in ability.
Having said that I think that after the games with Mito and Oita it is the one result which Avispa will be really trying to avoid.
Both teams are similar in that they are largely made up of new players trying to gel together into a team, and that they both have ambitions to promote up to J1 but have started the season slowly.
The big news for Avispa is that having gone off injured on Thursday Sakata doesn’t look like he will make a game this soon.
It means that up front we will probably be starting with Yutaka and Nishida.
I would prefer it if different options to a straight swap were looked at. I see it as a perfect time to try an extra man in midfield, with my choice being to have Naruoka in the hole with Kim and Kihara on the wing.
In reality I think that apart from Yutaka coming in for Sakata the only change likely to happen might be Kim for Omata.
I’d like to hope they have spent all week training for corners. Both in attack, and especially in defence where they have conceded 2 goals costing 4 points in the last week.
Having lost their star striker Ricardo Lobo to Kashiwa in the close season Tochigi had to rebuild their squad this year. It meant that they had a quite slow start to the season, and find themselves in an almost identical place in the table to Avispa.
Their best player is in Avispa’s problem area with Paulinho trying to dictate rhythm in the middle of the pitch and pick out balls to the two Brazilians brought in to try and replace Lobo: Sabia and Jairo. At the moment they have been unimpressive, but will be going all out to secure a reputation.
The most interesting player for Avispa fans will be Tatsunori Yamagata at right-back. I don’t really understand the circumstances behind him leaving Avispa after over 200 games last season, but the reaction of the away fans towards him will probably explain whose decision it was.
Avispa know he has great stamina and is tenacious in attack with a good cross, and is one of the reasons I’d take Kim to combat his running.
Tochigi 0 – 1 Avispa
A tough game without their top scorer, but I have to be optimistic that they can grind out a result having been disappointed with results for the last month.