After the disappointment of last weekend the team needs to bounce back strong for their first home game of the season against a decent team in Kyoto Sanga.
Kyoto are one of the toughest teams in the division having finished 3rd last season but then missing promotion in the play-off final, they also reached the play-off the previous year but failed then too.
In addition to having one of the highest quality (and highest wage bills) in the division they are also something of a bogey team fror Avispa and we seem to have an uncomfortable habit of playing well for a spell against them, but then collapsing and losing the game.
The team has lost some of it’s better players from the last couple of seasons and it might be a good time to face them having just got a new manager. A win against Sanga and the defeat from last weekend will quickly be forgotten.
I’ve written about what I felt about our team last weekend, and hope for a little more bite in midfield against a team who are going to want to play. If Seon is back then this gives us more options, if he isn’t then I’d give him a hype-up and send Kazuki out to let Park move forward. Or, despite having written him off maybe I’d ask Koga how fit he is. Against the top teams is there an argument he can try to give 3-4 last big performances during which he can either have a swansong, or prove to himself he really shouldn’t be in the team.
If someone does move up, I’d use Park ahead of Tsutsumi (although Takeda also did it against Kashima), then Nakahara moves up a place and Morimura starts from the bench. He could be a long-term option for midfield, and can play left midfield now, but needs games to build into the role, not a match against Kyoto Sanga after last weekend.
Jogo stays central, and will hopefully have more to work with having Nakahara alongside him and a destroyer behind him.
I thought Ishizu showed enough that he deserves a place to start, but it depends entirely on whether he is going to track back and help get the ball. Our formation and style requires a high press, and trying to win the ball back high up on the pitch to be able to maximise the turnover. He can’t expect everyone else to get the ball back all the time.
A harder question would be who he takes the place of. Sakata and Punosevac both did ok at times last weekend, Hirai is the player who could start to do very well if he finds his scoring boots.
Kyoto will likely be playing a 442 formation, typical in style you might expect from their old-school Brazilian manager (an interesting man who has traveled the world as both a player and manager over the last 40 years). They have 2 tricky wingers either side of a front pair, who will be looking to get 1-on-1 with our full-backs to stop them getting forward, and pull across the centre-backs.
This is an area where having a defensively sound midfielder is going to help us a lot as our defence is going to be pulled.
In the middle they may be missing their #9 Mitsuhira who was injured last weekend, but unfortunately have Mashashi Oguro to come in in his place. His recent stats don’t back it up, but he is one of the best 3 strikers I’ve seen at Level-5 when he came with Yokohama FC. He is 4 years older now, and people have said he can be disinterested, but is still a dangerous player.
Alongside him Brazilian Alessandro is a good quality Brazilian.
The place where I think we need to try and cause problems is central midfield where Kyoto are still coming out with a central 2. Their central 2 is very high quality with Kudo pulling the strings, and Jairo performing a deeper Dunga-type role, but it is still 2 vs. 3. If we can hold possession and upset them to stop having time to pick out attacks then we can cause problems. If Park can upset Kudo early then the players around him are all affected, but they need to get close to him first.
At the back they have a strong central 2, but they are not the quickest and can be pulled out of position as they try to cover the ground from full-backs who want to get forward. They got caught out early last week against Giravanz with a simple ball between the central-2 which former play Hara took early.
Kitakyushu were the better team in the first 20 minutes of that game by being quick to the ball and giving Kyoto no time, but were then undone by a very good cross from new right-back Ishibitsu after he was given time to pick out Alessandro in the middle.
They then got a second after Oguro was too good at a corner and got a flick-on to the near post after bullying the keeper. Their 3rd goal came as Kudo was given the time to pick out passes and benefited from a poor defensive header in the last minute as Kitakyushu pushed forward.
Avispa Fukuoka 1 : 1 Kyoto Sanga
I do think we can get a win. Kyoto have a lot of power going forward, but will give up chances at the back. Giranvanz had more shots last week (as we did against Kumamoto), but didn’t take advantage of that.
A win and everything from last week is forgotten, a draw is a decent result, a loss and the players are going to need to be picked up.