Avispa have had a difficult month of May, a month in which they have played a local derby, had matches against teams in 1st, 2nd and 4th (Gamba, Kobe and JEF), and an away match agsint a team who finished in the play-offs last season.
Despite this we have done pretty well. The performances have been very good at times and we’ve picked up enough points to climb the table a little and stay within touching distance of the play-offs.
Today’s game is the first in a sequence of what look like much easier games. I’d expect us to be heading out onto the pitch thinking we should be winning our matches from now until the away game with Kyoto in mid-July.
Thinking first about today we make the long trip north to Toyama.
Toyama are one of the weaker teams in the division who have never finished a season outside the bottom 6 in the division, and don’t really seem to be progressing as a club.
They had a better than usual start to the season, but have then dropped off in recent weeks and found themselves dropping down to their more normal surroundings of the bottom places in J2.
They hold a special place in my heart as the first game I ever watched, with Avispa coming out 6 – 0 winners, and while I don’t expect that result today I am hopeful of an Avispa win.
Avispa have done well against the stronger teams, but now have to think about how to break down the weaker ones.
Toyama aren’t going to pour forward in attacks against us, a draw isn’t a bad result for them in trying to stay clear of the relegation places.
I hope we have an attacking outlook because of this, but expect our fairly standard away formation. Kanakubo is likely to return in midfield ahead of Jogo, with Jogo taking one of the forward roles.
I really hope to see a lot more of the ball into the channel for Jogo to run onto and make the defence face their own goal. He never comes to meet the ball so this ball needs to be played into space rather than to feet as defenders always cut these out by simply stepping in front.
Toyama are likely to start with the same members who played last game against JEF. and did well before eventually losing.
They had 17 shots in that game and need to be kept to half this many in our game.
They play with the 3 man defence formation which has become very popular in J2 in the last 2 seasons, and is a formation we’ve faced 3 times so far this season and done very badly against each time.
If we are to get anything from this game, and have a hope of reaching a play-off spot the team needs to be set up better to deal with the numbers in midfield these formations provide.
The way to do it is to stretch the defence wider and force Toyama to commit numbers back. Balls into the channels for our hard-running wide forwards is the key in this with Kanakubo then hitting the box late.
My Prediction : Kataller Toyama 1 : 3 Avispa Fukuoka
I’ll predict a win, with some goals.
Hopefully both attacks prove too much for the opposite defences, and an early goal could make both teams come out of their defensive shape and open the match up a bit.
If it stays goalless for the first half it’ll stay goalless.