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.
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 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.
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.