Today’s game in likely to be the biggest of the season in terms of fans coming to the stadium as Gamba Osaka come to town with their collection of National Team players.
In Yasuhito Endo they have probably the most famous current J-League player, a native of Kyushu (Kagoshima) and this is probably the last chance he’ll ever be coming to Level-5 stadium (in my opinion).
As expected, Gamba are up near the top of the table but haven’t had things as smooth as fellow relegated team Kobe. They currently stand 3rd after losing to Kobe last weekend and will be looking to get back into the automatic promotion spots with a win today.
AVispa have only won 1 game in 4 but are actually playing their best football of the season at the moment playing up against some of the tougher opposition in the last month.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that we seem to play much better against the stronger teams; our team is set up to try and counter teams and exploit spaces, which is very difficult to do if a team sits back and asks us to come onto them.
Today’s game is likely to see a very similar line-up to the Kobe game 2 weeks ago. The defensive unit is most important and will have Miyamoto returning to the team after being rested against Yokohama. Omata looked fit enough to start at left-back, with Tsutsumi going into the middle.
It’s quite tough on Park gun after a few good performances, but Tsutsumi has been one of the stand-out players.
In midfield we are likely to play with Okada as one of the central players ahead of Nakahara to add more defensive strength, and probably Kanakubo alongside him as Funeyama cramped badly last week and Kanakubo plays better when he starts.
In attack I think Kanemori will start alongside Jogo and Sakata. Personally I’d play Ishizu and have Kanemori on the becnh, but Pusnik seems to have faith in the young players to turn it on against the big teams.
Gambe are the leading pioneers of the volante system in the J-League, with Endo pretty much writing the book on how to play the position. They will play with him trying to unlock the defence with his range of passing, with Leonardo looking too good for this division as striker, and Ienaga making late runs into the box.
It’ll be the biggest test of the Avispa defence to try and withstand this attack for 90 minutes. Having said that Endo’s legs have gone to the extent that he sometimes doesn’t even train, and if Jogo can play his deep-lying attacker rold to avoid giving him space it could cut out the supply line.
A lot of the match may depend on the referee and how much protection he gives to the Gamba players.
An interesting point for the Avispa fans is the possible return of Daiki who spent 3 years at Level-5 playing as Captain and a popular player.
I expect he’ll get a good reception, but is probably only going to get a chance at full-back if he can get off the bench.
Avispa 0 : 1 Gamba
I expect another brave defensive performance, but can’t see us holding out their attack for the whole game.
A large part of this will come down to the referee who is going to be put under a lot of pressure from Gamba to clamp down on our pressing game.