After a terrible 6 weeks of losses and draws, in which the only highlight was an away win against Tokushima (looking more and more like a freak result against a poor team), we now welcome the league leaders Montedio Yamagata to Level-5 stadium.
At a time when our top-scorer may still be injured, and we are unable to defend a corner without conceding a goal it could be seen as the worst possible time to be facing a team who have historicaly looked something a little bit like J-League’s answer to Stoke City.
Added to this a possible feeling of revenge after we beat them 6-1 away at the end of last season and things could get a little uncomfortable.
That 6-1 win last season had Ushinohama scoring 2 goals, a player who hasn’t got near the squad this year, but sums up that young players should at least be given a chance. I wonder how Yoshihara, Son, Ishizu feel as they watch the team lose or draw every week and not even be considered for the bench.
The biggest question for Avispa will be whether Sakata has shaken off his ankle injury and can return. He played on it for 25 minutes against Oita, and even set up the goal, so I’m hoping it’s not too bad. If he can’t make it i would play Samir and Nishida, but expect Maeda to go with Yutaka and Nishida if we stick with 442.
The second question is whether against one of the division’s best teams we address our midfield problem. We are at a big risk of totally losing midfield, even at home. For this reason I would go with a change in formation to 451/433, 4231 or 4411 with Naruoka playing through the middle (as he seems to want to) and Kihara and Kim having their very effective left wing combination.
Defence should stay unchanged.
Kamiyama to stay in goal, but has to start coming for crosses.
Montedio have traditionally played with some strong defenders and a couple of big target men to cause problems at set pieces and with a quite direct game. They seem to be trying to move away from this a bit this season, but probably still have enough knowledge around our Achille’s heel of corners to cause real problems.
They are made up of a bunch of experienced journey-men type players rather than any new wonderkids and Brazilian imports, but this gives them advantages in playing as a unit, and not over-complicating things.
I expect a hard game against a team who will be able to identify our serious weaknesses in midfield and set-pieces very quickly, and have the knowledge to be able to exploit these unless something is done about it.
Avispa 1 – 3 Montedio
If Maeda doesn’t change the formation we could be in for a hard afternoon. If he hasn’t dropped the terrible zone defence it could be even worse.
We have a whole lot of easier games after this one, but if we lose today we could be called a club in a bit of a crisis.