Avispa welcome the team who came down from J1 with them last season to Level-5 Stadium at lunch-time today, but while Avispa languish in 17th place having only won 9 games all season (most of these in the first 2 months), Kofu have set new records for dominating the division and have the chance to be crowned Champions today with a month left of the season.
The only real hope for Avispa today is if Kofu decide they want to celebrate being Champions in front of their home fans next week and somehow conspire to lose today to make that happen.
We drew in the away leg at the point when our season started to collapse, and could have had a win that day except for conceding at a corner when our zone defence was at it’s worst.
It says quite a lot for our season that in that first game Sakata was almost level on goals with Davy at the top of the scorers charts for J2. Davy went on from there to having now scored 30 goals while Sakata has only scored once since that game.
Looking at the goals we have scored within touching distance of Kofu’s total for the season ( 58 vs. 50 ) and in fact have enough goals to be somewhere near the play-off zone, but the defence has conceded 60 (Kofu: 33) with only Gainare conceding more goals.
While I have been saying to play young players for 2 months now I would say we shouldn’t in today’s game (which probably means Maeda will think it is a good idea).
It is the Champions coming down, in full confidence and in party mode. Let the older players who got us into this situation take a beating and watch as the opposition players and fans celebrate in a position they should have been fighting for.
One change will be enforced with Omata suspended, so Kim Min Je will come in at left-back. I like the change, and most of any attacks we have will be through him.
Ishizu was our best player last week, and scored, so may keep his place on the left wing and it will be a chance to see how he does against top opposition.
No suspensions for Ventforet.
Davy has taken most of the headlines for the team, and is their main target up front. A tall striker, good in the air, I can’t see how he won’t score from a corner or set-piece against our defence.
If Kofu have watched any of our games they know to put him on Min Je for goal kicks, with Kazuki then being told to come out of position rather than letting Min Je deal with things.
They have more quality from Fernandinho playing in an attacking role, and doing so in a position between midfield and attack will be way to much for Sueyoshi or Suzuki to try and understand and help out with.
Ex-Avispa players will be returning with Genki Nagasato going to get a hostile reception if he travels, and I’d be very interested to see Shigematsu again. I don’t know how he has done this season, or what Tokyo’s plans are for him, but I’d love to see him back at Avispa.
Avispa 1 – 3 Ventforet Kofu
I think the Kofu players will want to get things wrapped up today, and in a tall powerful striker, and clever Brazilian attacker it is exactly the sort of challenge that Avispa defence can’t handle.