Avispa’s 3rd game in 7 days will see them stay in Kanto to play what is the hardest game on paper of the week; JEF United.
Avispa are likely to be very tired after this week which started with a game played in as heavy rain as you can get in a derby match against Kitakyushu, then holding out for 30 minutes with 10 men against Thespa, and then had to travel down and back up to Chiba.
A few players have looked like they had injuries at the end of games but have stayed in the team for the next match and it will catch up with them at some point, especially with the energetic high press game we have used successfully in the last few games.
JEF are one of the heavy-weights in the division, but have managed to somehow avoid promotion for each of the last 4 seasons despite having one of the biggest budgets, and what on paper looks like a team which should be aiming to finish 1st.
They have their own problems in recent weeks and a dip in form has seen then drop to 10th in the division.
Today’s game is likely to end up either being a very good time to play them as they suffer with bad form, and not being totally sure which formation they are playing, or a very bad time as they work hard to correct the bad result in losing at home to Sapporo mid-week.
The biggest difference to the team from mid-week will be the enforced exclusion of Kanakubo Jun after his sending off. His runs into the box and pace will be missed in midfield. Jogo would likely be the closest direct switch, but he has generally been played as our striker when playing away so I expect Funayama to play alongside Okada and Nakahara.
Sakata deserves to start but that would mean breaking up the successful attacking trio of Kanemori-Jogo-Ishizu. Personally I’d give Kanemori a break and move Jogo onto the wing (or back into midfield in place of Kanakubo).
Osmar has had a couple of good cameos, but did look really tired after only playing 25 minutes on Wednesday.
Defence to stay the same.
The most interesting team selection for Avispa will be whether Yusuke Tanaka plays. Both because he is ex-Avispa, and because JEF play with wingers looking to hit the corners and play quick crosses into the box.
They have lost big player in target man Fujita (to FC Tokyo in the winter) and Aaroy, and now usually have Brazilian Kempes playing as a lone forward in a similar formation to ourselves.
It is possible they will play with 2 strikers as they did against Sapporo, but ended up losing that game.
In midfielder Yuto Sato they have one of the best midfielders in the division, and if we give him space to dictate the game then we’ll have a tough afternoon.
My Prediction – JEF United 2 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka
I really feel like the team have seen what Pusnik wants after the game against Kitakyushu, but playing in this hard running style 3 times in a week is going to be very tough.
I think JEF may have a little bit too much class, and won’t miss the headers at the back post like Thespa did in the week.