A big game for Avispa today as they travel to Nagasaki for the first time to play in the newest Kyushu derby.
Avispa are poised right on the edge of the play-off places, while Nagasaki have surprised everyone by being one of the top teams in the division, 3rd in the table with only Gamba and Kobe ahead of them.
Both teams have been quite solid at the back and tried to squeeze out single goal victories, with Ngasaki being a little more successful at it at present, but probably not as strong as Avispa on paper.
Why have done so well is something of a mystery. They have good sponsors and a bit of money, but their teams remains largely unchanged from when they were in the JFL, and their manager had 2-3 unsuccessful years at Kumamoto before coming to Nagasaki and suddenly making his team play-off contenders.
It would seem the game will be a tight, low-scoring affair; maybe won on a single set-piece goal.
Kanakubo and Mizutani are the only major long-term absences. Kamiyama will play in goal, and has done well in recent games (saving 2 penalties in the last minute against Fagiano was quite special!).
Kanakubo is a bigger loss, and we haven’t had the same attacking drive from midfield for the last month without him. Jogo may play midfield alongside Okada and Nakahara.
I think the full-backs are going to be key in this game, and expect to see Miyamoto back at right-back, even though Mishima pushing forward could really hurt Nagasaki’s flanks.
Koga will come back into defence to make our defence as experienced as possible against the team in 3rd place.
No major injuries or suspensions as far as I can tell.
The biggest issue for Avispa will be that they play in a 3xx formation which we have struggled against at times this season.
With bodies in midfield it will need the Avispa players to cover a lot of ground, and the wingers drop back when not in possession.
As I’ve said previously against these teams we need to be playing balls into the channels to get the organised Nagasaki midfield dropping back into the full-back positions.
Playing at home might actually hurt Nagasaki as they try to push forward and make the game a bit, leaving spaces for the Avispa attackers to run into.
V-Varen Nagasaki 0 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka
You can probably get some good odds from bookies who’ve looked at the league table, but believe we are generally stronger and in decent form.
The game will be tight, and could go either way, but I feel an Avispa win is slightly more likely.