AVispa have their 2nd away game of the season, with possibly the hardest game of the season as they travel to newly relegated Jubilo Iwata.
Iwata aren’t as obvious for promotion as Gamba and Vissel were last season but still have a squad which is vastly superior to most other clubs in the division with a wage budget which must be 2-3 times higher than that of Avispa.
The result of the game will largely be determined by which Avispa team turn up. The team which weakly lost to Kumamoto on the opening day, and then struggled to make anything in the last 70 minutes against Ehime, or the team who controlled the pace of the game and got a great win against Kyoto.
Jubilo have had an ok start to the season beating Kumamoto and Nagasaki in the last 2 weeks having lost to Sapporo on the opening weekend, a game which they dominated for large parts and came up against a goalkeeper having the game of his life, including a penalty save.
They are a team who have had some link to Avispa (similarly to Ehime last week) with Naruoka, Okada and Matsuura all having made the trip between clubs in recent seasons (Avispa was originally started in Shizuoka near Iwata).
A win here would be an excellent result and put us back onto a good start to the season, a draw is also a decent result, a loss would have us in the bottom half of the table.
Playing against strong opposition it is fairly starightforward that we will play with an anchor in front of the defence who will be given a clear job to break up the play and win the ball back. Previously this has been Park who did very well against Kyoto, and ok against Ehime. He would be likely to stay there except there have been injuries at the club with Lee going off injured last weekend, and Park himself picking up a knock.
This might open the door for Takeda to get a start. I certainly wouldn’t drop Nakahara back, it would leave us too lightweight against strong opposition. Personally I would play Park and Takeda to try and turn the game into a scrappy match with 3 midfielders (Park, Takeda and Nakahara) who can all run and try to get the ball back.
In front of them Punosevac should play as a striker who will work the defence, although it means Hirai and Ishizu might start on the bench which will lead to questions from fans/journalists who don’t understand the game-plan. Sakata and Jogo to play as wide forwards and drop back to help in midfield.
Defence will depend on whether Lee is fit. If he is then it will stay unchanged. If he isn’t then Park will drop back and Takeda plays as anchor will the front line the same as last week.
Jubilo have found a winning team in the last couple of weeks, and one which is scoring a lot of goals.
They have a couple of injuries, but are likely to otherwise stay unchanged.
Our defence is going to be severely tested by the strongest forward line in the division as ex-NT player Maeda brings an aerial threat and powerful shot, Popo knows what to do for promotion chasing teams, and Yamazaki will pull the central two apart from each other with his movement.
Behind them Daisuke Matsui has come back from Europe and has now had enough games to start having an impact on the game and needs to be pressed when in possession.
At the back they have Komano making runs from full-back, and is likely to give a tough day for whoever ends up playing as one of our wide forwards.
Jubilo Iwata 2 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
I think we will have a better performance than last week, but end up with no points. I can’t see that our defence will be able to cope with their options in attack, even with a couple of players protecting in front of them.
Having said that, if the defence play as they did against Kyoto then we always have a chance to sneak something.