Archive for March 2013

vs. Mito Hollyhock (preview)   1 comment

Avispa have a home game on Sunday for the third week in a row, and after being beaten by Kyoto and Sapporo (with an away defeat to Tokushima mid-week in between) they are in danger of entering a slump like last season.
Last season we didn’t start the season too badly, but after a few defeats the players seemed to lose all faith in the manager and system, and didn’t play with any confidence for the rest of the season. Pusnik needs to ensure the same doesn’t happen this season.

The win against Verdy was great, but it didn’t come from us dominating the game, likewise against Montedio we squeezed a win out. The team needs a comfortable win off the back of a good performance to get our season rolling.

Avispa News
We looked a lot better last week despite losing, and could/should have been a couple of goals up by the time Sapporo scored based on how much possession we had and where the game was being played.
i felt it just needed a little more quality on the final ball, and some more confidence from the forwards to make the runs, and take their chance on something happening.

For this reason I hope that Pusnik doesn’t change the team. I fear he may make Min Je a scapegoat and put Okada back at left-back which would be a huge mistake.
If a change was going to be made I’d put Okada as the midfield anchor, and bring Funayama into midfield. Nakahara has had a good start to his Avispa career, but is still a guy in his first full season and may benefit from a break.

Sakata still needs a goal. At some point he needs to come out of his scoring crisis and get back to the layer of the start of last season who scored 7 goals in 7 games and looked like the best striker in the division.

Mito News
Mito are still one of the smaller clubs in the division despite having now been in J2 for 12 years.
They have a knack of beating the better teams in the division at times, and go through spells of winning 4-5 games in a row. Fortunately they don’t seem to be in one of those runs at the moment having played some of the weaker teams so far and only winning once (a home win against Toyama in Week 2).

They base their game on a strong defensive unit, and look to their experienced front 2 of Namba and Suzuki to press high on the pitch and battle into positions to score.
Suzuki in particular is an interesting player. Now 36 he has over 50 games for Japan and a career which has seen him play for clubs in 5 different countries (Japan, Brazil, Belgium, Serbia, America). He also has a perhaps unwanted record for not scoring; with no goals in 46 games (1790 minutes) at one point in his career he might be able to give Sakata a few tips on how to get out of a slump.

My Prediction.

Avispa 3 – 0 Mito

I keep staying positive, but last week did have some encouraging signs despite the defeat.
If our defence can stay focused and withstand the agressive high press of the Mito strikers then we should be able to control the game.
After we score a goal it could lead to lots more. I don’t expect the 5-0 we had in 2010, but definitely also don’t expect the defeat we experienced last season.

Posted March 29, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Consadole Sapporo (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Avispa 0 – 1 Consadole

The result of this game would say a lot about how Pusnik could feel about his first month in the job. A win and it could be considered a really good start from the teams we have played, a draw and it would be a fairly average start, a defeat, at home against a team who’ve won only 1 game all season and it could be seen as something of a mini-crisis.

After 45 minutes if someone had said we would go on to lose the game I’d have been shocked.
Having weathered a couple of storms, including having one goal against wiped out for offside (which I thought looked to have been ok) we were completely controlling the game.
There was always the chance of a goal by Sapporo on the counter, like with the offside goal when Okada gave the ball away on half-way with the full-backs pushed up, but it seemed like just a matter of time until we would score.

We looked a much, much better team with 2 proper full-backs on the pitch, and Miyamoto and Min Je were our best players, and looked most likely to lead to a goal.
The midfield was much better balanced, and MinJe’s attacking runs showed why he must be in the team.
Unfortunately for all the endeavor there was no cutting edge. Jogo hit the bar from a header at the back post, but apart from that we didn’t really test the Sapporo keeper; a fact made all the much worse in that he looked terrible.

I don’t really understand how Kanakubo can spend 10 minutes of pre-match warm-up rifling shots into the top corner of the net from outside the box, but then in a game doesn’t even take a shot when in a similar position.

I wasn’t concerned because such was our dominance we were going to score, and at times it was our best performance of the season; albeit one which lacked quality in the final third.
With subs to come on I felt sure that somewhere between Funayama, Kanemori and Nishida we could nick a goal, with 1 goal leading to 2-3 more.

Unfortunately we got hit with a similar sucker-punch to that which we beat Verdy with on the opening day.
Pushing forward to attack with the 3 substitutes brought on we nearly took the lead after Kanemori tricked a defender in the box and played a ball to Nishida whose shot deflected back to Funeyama, who in turn had has shot blocked.
The ball made it’s way to the other end and a cross from the left wing found an attacker again slipped away from the left back (although this time being Min Je rather than Okada as in the last 2 games). His initial shot was saved well by Kamiyama but Miyazawa scored from the rebound.

With 20 minutes still to play we finished the match playing against 10 men after the impressive Nara was sent off after kicking the ball away when we were trying to push forward on a quick free-kick. It looked like we may be able to get a point, but still struggled to convert chances and left with nothing for the 3rd match in a row.

My Man of the Match – Takuya Miyamoto

Again I though the right-back was our best player. Kazuki played well again, and Kim Min Je would have also had a chance in his first game of the season but for not being close enough for the goal, but we need the forwards to start looking like they can win us a game.

Posted March 26, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Consadole Sapporo (preview)   6 comments

5th game of the season and Avispa are playing a team they have already faced this season, albeit in a pre-season friendly.
On that day Consadole ended up winning 2-1 after getting 2 dodgy penalties, including one in the last minute. After being drawn into one last week we need to be very aware that they may be playing to get a few more.

I thought we looked the better team on that day despite losing, and should be looking to get a win to get the season back on track. Consadole came down from J1 last season, but this is the easiest game of the season so far in my opinion.

There will less emphasis on a battle of formations than last week (a battle which we lost against Tokushima) as Sapporo are likely to be playing with a 451 similar to ours.

Avispa News
The team will be changed from last week with Tsutsumi coming back from suspension into defence. He will take Tokio’s place in central defence, although I think Tokio did better than Kazuki last week and stopped a couple of clear goals in the 2nd half with intelligent defending.
I am still hopeful that Min Je will come in as someone who will help defensively and in attack from left-back, but this would mean Okada moves into midfield. After a good debut Park looked like games from the bench might be a good idea, and it was with Okada in midfield when we won both our games this season. I’d put him as anchor with Funayama and Kanakubo ahead.

Nishida and sakata both did well after coming on last week, but I think there is only room for one of them in the starting line-up, with Ishizu and Jogo being obvious starters.

I want to see us using the width of the pitch in the final third than last week to try to make more space for the other 2 prongs of the attacking trident, and Kanakubo hitting the box late. This plan needs Miyamoto and Min Je, Okada doesn’t have the confidence in the position to get up and down all game.

Consadole News.
Consadole had a very good first week, beating JEF, but have lost all their games since then and are having a bit of a defensive crisis.
Their young defensive star Nara should be back, but along side him are similarly aged young defenders but not of the same standard.
There Korean defender with long hair looked good in the air in the training match, but apart from that we should have chances.

They would usually be playing with target man Tele up front, but he has been absent recently with a shoulder injury. he might be back, but isn’t someone I would worry about too much, he isn’t a very mobile defender and Kazuki could hopefully deal with his height.
Replacing him would be the unlikely figure of Shunsuke Maeda. He never really looks like a professional footballer to me, and his stats as a striker suggest he isn’t that likely to score as a lone striker.

My Prediction.

Avispa 2 – 0 Consadole Sapporo

The game will be won in midfield, and whether we can get the ball and move it out to the attacking wide players.
We will hopefully have more presence in the middle than last week, and have been working on getting the ball to the front players in the right places.

Posted March 23, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Tokushima Vortis (youtube/nicovideo)   Leave a comment

Another link to follow, but it doesn’t need a login….

Click to see Tokushima highlights.

Tokushima 1 : 0 Avispa
A veteran striker knew exactly what he was doing, running away from goal and waiting for the defender to dive in and take the foul.
It was a foul, it was naive, and while Kazuki is good at going 100% into tackles and headers, he shouldn’t be doing it in the box with people running away from goal.

Tokushima 2 : 0 Avispa
Everyone in defence is caught out of position. Tokio gets pulled forwards, Kazuki isn’t near anyone, Okada is the wrong side, and only Kanemori knows what he is doing back there.
It looks like a good goal, but it owes as much to the defending as Tokushima’s attack.

Tokushima 2 : 1 Avispa
Sakata and Nishida show that while youth may have some ecstatic highs, experience is what you need when it is pissing down and a team comes to break you. A pin-point cross to the box, and a class finish who looks like someone who wants to play.

Posted March 22, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Tokushima Vortis (report)   1 comment

Tokushima 2 : 1 Avispa
30′ Takasaki, 38′ Ozaki, 82′ Nishida

A second defeat in 4 days, and the first performance of the season which was below expectations.
It was the first time to face the 343 formation which has become very popular since Oita’s promotion last season, and I felt it was a case of not being able to address this formation which cost us the game.

We played with the same front 3 as last week, but they became quite isolated in this game as all three played quite narrow which played into the hands of the Tokushima defence.
Compounding the issue we still had Okada at left-back, who despite being a midfielder is not someone who gets forward well and meant that the wings were rarely used.
Against a 343 we really needed to draw players into the full-back positions; either one of the centre-backs to upset their shape or to pull a midfielder back and hurt their ability to hold possession. With Ishizu and Kanemori it isn’t unrealistic to think they could bring both players at times.

What actually happened was we allowed Tokushima to dictate the game and play it in a part of the pitch which they wanted to. Using a spear-head striker playing on the shoulder, with 6 players available to hold possession and pick up second balls we ended up not being able to get quality balls to the 3 players up field.

When Tokushima took the lead it wasn’t a big surprise, but was totally avoidable. A long, hopeful ball forward made it past the defensive pairing of Kazuki and Tokio, but still had a lot of work to do as Takasaki and Kazuki ran back towards goal. Takasaki knew exactly what he was doing in waiting for Kazuki to make a tackle and going down straight away. It was a clear foul, but one which was totally ‘bought’, and just needed Kazuki to stay on his feet.
Takasaki got up to easily convert the resulting penalty.

Tokushima were steadily making chances, while only Kanakubo was really threatening the goal at the other end where despite having 3 strikers on the pitch, all playing fairly centrally it was his late runs into the box which were looking most dangerous.

Rather than equalise we went 2 behind. The central pair of Tokio and Kazuki seemed to be operating with Tokio trying to read the play and intercept, while Kazuki stayed back and made clearances. Not a bad plan in itself, but one which was caught out after 38 minutes as Tokio was pulled forward and a ball came back into the box where as with the header against Kyoto it was missed by Kazuki and Okada on the wrong side.

The game was being lost in midfield where Nakahara and Park were not able to find outlets for their balls out, and easily gave up possession numerous times. Both are good players, but when Funayama and Sakata came on at hlaf-time it showed that as good as these young players are (and will be) playing away at a team who are better than their league position suggests it is good to have experienced players on the pitch (with youngsters coming on as and when it is appropriate).

We looked better in the 2nd half, especially after Nishida Go came on who probably played the best he has in an Avispa shirt, but being 2 goals behind Tokushima were able to make things even tighter and we struggled to pass through them, often over-playing things in the final third.
It was crying out for the game to be stretched a bit, but only Miyamoto really offered any width.

Eventually a goal came with a nice move started by Nakahara playing a diagonal ball in front of Sakata. This is the ball we need, pulling defences wider, to feet, in front of out attackers.
he looked up and played a ball straight to Nishida Go in the middle of the box who finished very well.

It looked like we could get something from the game if it was 10 minutes longer, but time ran out.

We have still had a good start to the season; 6 points from the teams we have played is ok, and I think that there were lessons from this game which may help us in the long run:
i) We can’t keep playing a midfielder at left back, especially with a very good left back on the bench.
ii) As good as Kanemori, Nakahara, Park, are, they shouldn’t have too much pressure on them to keep performing each week. Players like Funayama, Sakata, Nishida have the experience to know what to do on a rainy day, away against teams like Tokushima.
iii) The puzzle which is Jogo still needs to be solved. If it can be then we can go to J1.

My Man of the Match – Miyamoto
Was the only player who gave us the width we needed to disturb their narrow 343. Good in attack and defence.
We needed a player the same on the other wing, and frustratingly we had one sitting on the bench.

Posted March 20, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Tokushima Vortis (preview)   7 comments

After the huge disapopintment after playing so well on Sunday the team is making the short trip across to Shikoku to play Tokushima on the National Holiday tomorrow.

The fans and press have been almost unanimous in saying that Avispa were very unluckt not to get anything from the game on Sunday, and were the better team for most of the game until Tsutsumi’s sending off changed the complexion of the game.

After 3 very tough games the match against Tokushima is possibly a little ‘easier’ on paper. They were one of the very few teams we did well against last year in a match when Hatamoto totally owned Diogo and Kihara scored what would be Goal of the Season for any team which didn’t have Jogo scoring unbelievable goals every month.

It is a team where I’d hope we would be looking to exert a little more control over midfield, rather than relying on a counter-attacking game, but being an away game think the 433 with a defensive shield is how we should and will line up.

Avispa News
There are quite a few questions about personnel for this game with many players probably thinking they have done enough in the first 3 games to be considered first team players.
Kamiyama will stay in goal after a couple of excellent saves and catches so far this season.
Defensively there is an issue at left-back where omata has been announced as being out for 6 weeks. It would seem the obvious answer is Min Je, a guy who could be the best left-back in the division, but last week we played Okada there. He did an ok job, but is clearly unfamiliar with the position, being caught wrong side for the goal in the last minute, and possibly being considered too far off his man for the first too. I think Min Je has to play, but that creates the issue of where does Okada play having been made Captain. It’s the same situation we had with Yutaka last season.
With Tsutsumi now out it means I’d play Hatamoto from the start. He did very well here last year and Kazuki is much better with pace next to him.

In midfield Park was amazing against Kyoto, Kanakubo is undroppable (people say Kihara is quick, he doesn’t have anything like the ffective pace of this guy), Funayama hasn’t done anything wrong, Nakahara has played every game and looked intelligent and Okada should move back into midfield. Unfortunately only 3 of those players can start. I would choose Park as shield, with Funayama and Kanakubo ahead of him, but that leaves our Captain on the bench.

In attack Pusnik is keeping teams guessing. Kanemori (*Correction from Kanakubo) did very well last week, but I prefer his pace off the bench. Ishizu has to play left, and I don’t feel comfortable with Jogo on the right. Personally I’d play Ishizu – Jogo – Kihara, with Sakata and Kanemori ready to come on at 55 minutes.

Tokushima news
Tokushima have not had a good start to the season, losing 2 and drawing 1, including a home defeat to Kitakyushu at the weekend.
They will be looking to change things a little I guess after being hit with 2 goals to lose the game after holding much of the ball but not being able to convert chances.

They play with what seems to be the en-vogue formation for J2 of 343 and we should be trying to attack the flanks and force their attacking threat back.
Their main threat in attack is target man Douglas who will need to watched by Kazuki, and they may have a familar face in midfield trying to pull some strings as Alex comes back to Level-5 Stadium.
Should he play then the team should need no reminding not to be giving away too many set pieces around the area.

Tokushima 0 – 2 Avispa

I’ll be positive this week and think we can bounce back from Sunday and make a statement that we should have won that game.
I expect some support for Tsutsumi at the game as he’s had his best spell at the club this season and was devestated about how things turned out last week.

Posted March 19, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Kyoto Sanga (youtube)   Leave a comment

No clips on youtube again, but this time the video compilation site has embedded a clip from nicovideo so you don’t need to log-in to watch anything.

Just follow this link and you can see the highlights.

Click to watch highlights.

1st Goal : Avispa 1 : 0 Kyoto Sanga

A good run from Miyamoto down the right, and the low cross into the box which we have been using a lot this year.
A very clever dummy by Kanemori and Ishizu hits it first time into the bottom corner for a nice goal.

2nd Goal : Avispa 1 :1 Kyoto Sanga

It came at a really bad time; if we’d held on til half-time I think we could have got a straightforward win.
Getting possession in the left-back position, and with a midfielder playing out of position the Kyoto winger cuts inside and scores past the near post. I think Kamiyama will probably feel he should have saved it.

Sending off – Tsutsumi
In a gin stoked haze at the match I thought it was definitely a good tackle. Watching it back here it probably was a foul.
Whether Tsutsumi is definitely the last man is another question.

Avispa 1 : 2 Kyoto

For the second time in the match we conceded in injury-time, and this time it cost us the points.
Hatamoto had done well after coming on, but a long diagonal ball again found Okada up against an attacker and not being able to deal with it.

My Man of the Match – Kazuki Yamaguchi
i was too drunk to remember to write this yesterday, but thought Kazuki had his best game for us.
When he is just trying to get in the way of things, or be tackling players 1-on-1 he is a good defender.

Official man of the Match – The guy who scored Kyoto’s winner.
He’d only been on the pitch 20 minutes and done nothing else but I guess that is what happens if you get the winning goal.

Posted March 18, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights