The longest away trip of the year tomorrow as we travel north to Sapporo. It’s a good time of year to do it as it won’t be freezing cold, and even better the players will escape the pouring rain of Fukuoka for a few hours.
We have already played Consadole twice this season, firstly in a pre-season friendly where we lost 2-1 after 2 dodgy penalties in the last minute of each half, and then once competitively at Level-5 stadium.
In the first half of that much we dominated Consadole as much as I’ve seen us dominate anyone this season. They really couldn’t get out of their half for much of the game, but their defence (led by the very good Nara) stopped us from really ever having a meaningful attack.
In the second half we got caught with a sucker-punch of a goal, and then found it even harder to break down their attack, even up against 10 men after Nara was sent off for kicking the ball away.
The way we have been playing in recent weeks I can see we may still have some problems in scoring tomorrow, but with our defence only 2nd to Gamba in goals conceded should be able to withstand a not very prolific attack.
Consadole are a decent team, and only came down from J1 last season so I’m expecting Pusnik to play our ‘defensive’ midfield with 3 from Okada/Park/Tsutsumi/Nakahara. This does give a bit more strength, but doesn’t help in linking midfield to attack.
Ishizu has sometimes played centrally, but is suspended for this game, while Jogo has expressed a desire to play in the middle too.
Personally I think that Funeyama and Kanakubo are the only players who offer the stability and energy to play effective attacking midfield away from home, but will come on as a 2nd half change.
With Ishizu suspended the front 3 will likely be Sakata, Kanemori, Jogo, with Nishida and Osmar available as more direct options.
The biggest difference from last time we played Sapporo is that their target striker from last time we played is now training with us and sitting in the stadium. Tele certainly won’t be playing after losing his contract after turning up hung-over or something.
Their other striker from the start of the season Shunsuke Maeda, a guy who would be much better advised to become a Shoko Asahara lookalike rather than a professional footballer, but he is likely to miss this game.
Impressive youngster Nara was on the bench last week after the match when they lost 2-0 to J2’s worst team Gunma, but may come back in after Paulon was sent off in losing to Tokushima last week.
Consadole Saporro 0 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka
With the likely reward of entering the play-offs if we win I can see us sneaking a single goal victory.
I have a funny feeling that Tsutsumi might be reading to score another well-taken goal to show he’s the best striker at the club as well as best midfielder and defender.