With the games coming thick and fast over Golden Week we will play our 2nd game in 4 days as near neighbours Kitakyushu come to Fukuoka.
It is a fixture which has got quite serious in recent seasons. In Giravanz’ debut season they were looked down upon by Avispa, and despite being our closest neighbours (sharing a prefecture) didn’t really feel like a derby.
That all changed a couple of seasons later when we dropped down from J1 and got totally destroyed by them away from home, and then had a volatile match at home where Suzuki Jun probably put in his best performance for the club in midfield (probably the match which got him his later move to Tokyo Verdy as Kitakyushu’s manager went there, how is that going Jun?).
The game is likely to again be scrappy and fought in midfield, the area where we have struggled to get 3 players who have shown they should be playing there every week. At the moment it is Nakahara + 2, but the +2 isn’t because of high competition it’s because somehow we still don’t have any clear midfielders at the club.
Everything changed in the last 5 minutes at Thespa, and I hope the club are positive going into this match knowing that a win at lunch-time today could take us to 3rd in the table (well, 2nd if we win 4-0 and Oita beat Nagasaki 4-0!)
I’d still favor Kamiyama in goal, but Shimizu didn’t do badly in the last couple of games (but also didn’t do amazingly well. Kamiyama can win a game (he can also lose one however).
The back 4 will stay unchanged, but I hope Mishima and Abe have done a couple of sessions on crossing. Unless Puni is on the pitch they only really need 3 balls. i) Slid to a forward-winger on the corner of the box to cut inside or hit the byline. ii) Whipped in fast towards the near-post/penalty spot, much faster pace than they generally seem to, or iii) hit low into an area 2-4m in front of where the keeper can comfortably reach.
The number of crosses they are trying to hit to the back post and just balloon straight for a goal-kick is crazy.
Midfield is the problem. Generally at home we have played Nakahara as the furthest back midfielder. I think this is a big risk going into a derby match, especially if he has only Jogo and Sakata ahead of him like with Nagasaki.
On the flip side The only real options we have to play behind him are Park and Takeda. With the positive mood from being in 5th it would be good to have the best players on the pitch and even Takeda might say he shouldn’t be in the team ahead of Jogo and Sakata.
The other factor is that it is a game against Morimura’s old club, in a match after he has just scored the winning goal. In pre-season Morimura looked great, full of running and able to link up well. If he can pull it off he is the player we need.
The forward 3. I’d play Ishizu-Sakata-Jogo. Sakata will work and hold the ball up well, he rarely gives up possession. Jogo was very unlucky not to score last weekend, and he actually helps Mishima a lot when he plays in this position
There seems to be a bit of a trust issue with Ishizu and his failure to sometimes track back. I’d say he is consistently our most threatening player, the other players like to have him on the pitch, and with the team trying to build momentum he is invaluable. Even if he is replaced later, the player who comes on plays better having watched what he has done up to that point.
This means Punosevac and Hirai start on the bench. I think both have worked better as impact substitutes. Hirai this season, and Punosevac’s best games are still those from when he first came to the club and looked very exciting coming off the bench late on.
The player who is a little unfortunate in all that is Sakai who did well after coming on last week, and looked like he also had the spirit to carry the team. I’d bring him on first change.
The team I would pick: (front 4 must run, and preferably switch between positions)
Avispa 2 : 0 Giravanz
Avispa play much better against the better teams, and when they are up against it and not complacent.
Giravanz are not one of the better teams, but being a derby match I expect the game to be played at a decent tempo and for Avispa to come out on top. The above formation gives them 6 players who can cope in midfield, and I’d have them playing a control-attack game for alternate 10 minute spells.