After the long winter break the J2 season is set to start again with Avispa travelling up to the capital to play Tokyo Verdy.
It will be an early test of the new team and tactics as Verdy are among the group of teams who always start the season looking to get promotion.
It will be the first time to see what formation is going to be used this season, and whether the new ideas about quick forward passing and high pressing has been accepted by the team.
Avispa team news.
I suspect that we will play with a 4231 formation, which will revert to more of a 4141 with Okada playing just in front of the back 4.
This gives the chance to have 3 players in the middle of the pitch, with the most important player being the one who is more attacking and tries to link to the lone front man.
Ordinarily this would be Kanakubo, but I don’t know the state of his fitness; along with Park and Mizutani he didn’t play in the training match with Consadole.
After last season’s awful defensive record a strong performance at the back is needed to give confidence moving forwards. A clean sheet would be great, but more importantly not to concede in the first 3 minutes like we did so often last season.
I’d be aiming for 15 minutes of solidity at the start of the match to just settle the nerves. An early goal could take the team into a negative frame of mind like the last 6 months of last year where they look like they expect to concede goals.
Tokyo Verdy team news.
Tokyo Verdy have also re-built this summer with a new manager and up to 8 players realistically thinking they might be getting a debut today.
The biggest interest for Avispa fans is that one of these is Suzuki Jun who left us in the summer after being here since he was a kid.
He is likely to be playing in a 3 man midfield (as part of a 433 I think we should be using), which might give him more support to try and pass it around, but hopefully the Avispa players know his limitations and target him as someone who will give up possession easily if pressured.
Their biggest problem will be how they try to replace top goal-scorer Abe who went to during the season break.
Their new manager cam from Giravanz and brought a lot of his old team with him, including Yasuda and Tokiwa as forwards, but the biggest name is veteran striker Naohiro Takahara who has the experience and skill to make it a hard day for our defence.
An added point of interest for Verdy will be that they haven’t had an easy pre-season. A training match got out of hand and was abandoned after their Korean defender broken some guys leg, and the manager has now been banned for 3 games after pushing the referee in the aftermath.
I don’t think that Kazuki or Koga are going to be able to handle Takahara in the air, so Avispa are going to need to cut off the supply line to him.
This means Okada is going to need to stay close to Yasuda in his play-making role, and the full-backs will need to cut out all crosses into the box.
Tokyo Verdy 2 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka
Unfortunately I think that it might be a little too much to get something from this game this early. Their attack is too strong for what must be a nervous Avispa defence.
With what is likely to be a clear 3 in midfield for Verdy we will lose possession unless we play with an obvious 3 ourselves.