After what has felt like a long break the season kicks off again with an away match against Roasso Kumamoto, just 90 minutes by coach south for the team and with what will hopefully be a big away support.
I’m sure the players and management are even more eager to start than I am, and with lots of new players a good start to the campaign is really important to try and build some momentum and show that some of the new ideas and new players are going to be successful this season.
We will be playing some variant of 433 (moving between 4231 and 4141 depending on the phase of play and how the game is being played), with many of the new players getting their debuts for the team.
Oh, Seon, Takeda and Nozaki have all looked to have picked up injuries at times during pre-season, but I’d expect that with the target of the first game of the season to get back all should be available. The only player who I don’t expect to see is Sakai who I haven’t seen involved in any games so far.
I don’t think we have any players suspended.
The starting line-up is something of a mystery as the first game of the season, but from what I have seen so far I would play…
This team is squashed a bit, with a few players playing in positions which I don’t really want them, but as the first game of the season I think it is a good idea to get all the players who should be having a good season on the pitch and then slide them into better positions as form/injuries/suspensions come into effect.
Nakahara does know this position after last year although I’d like him to be further upfield, and is a ‘safe’ choice for first game.
Morimura and Ishizu are both players who can run, and can switch between their positions, but with Jogo and Hirai the other players around the 3/4 line it is a light-weight midfield (with only Nakahara behind them), pressure falls on Jogo to get involved and try to be more physical in his game (as he can).
Sakata and Hirai switch for the front position, with neither really happy on the wing, but needing to work for the team.
Defence writes itself, with only Takeda for Abe where there is any choice to be made.
Bench: Kasagawa, Abe, Park, Kazuki, Kanamori, Ushinohama, Punosevac,
I think Roasso have brought in some good players this winter and are going to be a much better team than they have been in the past few seasons.
Previously they fell into the trap of getting 34 year old famous players to eat up their wage bill (Kitajima, Fujimoto), and while Kitajima is now moved into coaching Fujimoto might still play as a second striker and will get a bad reception from the Avispa fans. This is the player who I’d be looking to rattle within the first 10 minutes if he plays.
They didn’t lose the theme altogether with Seiichiro Maki coming in from Verdy, who may start, but I don’t have much faith in these sorts of signings (33 years old) so hope that we can deal with him.
Up front their Brazilian striker Fabio is much better than he used to be, and will provide an aerial threat which Seon should be looking to win early. They play with tricky wingers each side of their striker (who himself isn’t an out and out striker), but don’t have anyone of the quality of Takatomi any more. Yasuaki Okamoto who has arrived from Sapporo is a player who I do expect to do well there though and is likely to be our biggest threat.
Their experienced goal-keeper has left, and could previously have been argued to have been their best player, so I hope that we put in a lot of early shots to a new, inexperienced goal-keeper; a nervy start could give us an easy afternoon.
Roasso Kumamoto 1 – 2 Avispa Fukuoka
I think an away draw would be a good result for the first game of the season, but with Roasso having brought in even more new players than us I am hopeful that we can sneak a valuable away win.
We are going to get shots on goal, and I think the new goal-keeper after so long with an experienced one (who was also Captain) is going to be the difference.