We’ll be playing Tochigi in a few hours, and I’m trying to be optimistic, but worried that this is possibly the crucial part of the season for us.
Tochigi have been something of a bogey team for us, they seem to be able to bully us in midfield a bit and generally have some foreign strikers who are able to finish their direct attacks effectively.
A big difference today may be that Paulinho is still likely to be out injured, and Cristiano managed to get yellow carded twice in injury time last week so will be missing too. Maybe this is our chance to get all three points for the first time in years.
To do that there is going to need to be a lot more organisation in defence to deal with the aerial threat of Savia, and a much clearer outlet ball for the midfield to build attacks.
Avispa have problems in defence as Mizutani and Koga are both out injured, I believe Kim is too but hasn’t been used much this season anyway.
Kamiyama has come in as keeper and done a great job, but the organisation of Koga is harder to replace. Tsutsumi and Park didn’t do very well last weekend and may well be changed. The only real option would seem to be Kazuki playing.
Miyomoto should come back in as right-back.
Midfield looked much better in the second half last week when Funeyama and Kanakubo offered much more dynamism. But Kanakubo is now suspended. I’d like to see Funeyama start, but he doesn’t seem to last a match.
Up front I think the youngsters should take a couple of weeks out and use the experience of Sakata, Nishida, Jogo and Osmar to make up the front 3 and first change.
Tochigi SC News
The Tochigi manager must have been quite annoyed after having his Captain and midfield playmaker long-term injured his replacement Cristiano managed to get booked twice in the last minute the week before playing a team who can leap-frog them in the table with a win.
Tochigi will keep the same basic 442 formation, but probably move Alex up into midfield. He has genuine class, but is now 35 and should be able to be pressed if we play with energy in what will be quite hot conditions.
Sabia is a fairly small striker, but quite good in the air. Similarly I think we should be targetting him with some close tackling, and hopefully not have an overly fussy referee to kill the game.
My Prediction :
Avispa 2 – 0 Tochigi SC
Generally I wouldn’t give us a chance against Tochigi, but they are missing a lot of what would be considered their key players.
They’ve not had a good couple of weeks, losing to Yokohama and drawing with Toyama, and in fact haven’t won a game in over a month.