Despite not winning a game in July the recent run of 3 games undefeated has somehow meant that we could be back in the play-offs if we win on Sunday, even more surprising in that we only won one of those 3 games; our first win since the 28th June.
Having said that we did have a difficult run of games, and are now faced with a set of games between now and the end of the season where apart from JEF away I would really hope the players would think that they should be favorites to win.
We can continue the good work from beating Jubilo last weekend, with the best performance I’ve seen from an Avispa team, by getting our first win of the season against a Kyushu team as we travel to Nagasaki.
Nagasaki have been suffering a little this season after the excitement of their first season when they finished in the top half of the table. They started this season well, but have been found out a little bit in recent months and a drop in confidence around the squad has seen them drop out of the play-offs and down to 15th in the table.
They are a team who have drawn far too many games this season (11 : highest in the division), but have actually lost fewer than Avispa.
The biggest question for Avispa is who to play in defence. With suspensions to our 2 Korean central defenders we had to bring Koga and Kazuki back into the team against Jubilo which had a recipe for disaster, but actually went really, really well.
I don’t think anyone could have predicted the defence to work so well, but now that it has it would be very hard on any of those players to drop down to the bench.
It would seem obvious to keep the team the same then, but prior to the Jubilo game Kwang Seon had been our best defender, and ranked second in the whole division for winning headers so would also probably feel he should come back into the team.
It leaves 5 players and 3 starting places, with the 2 who aren’t playing entitled to feel a little disappointed.
The solution for me would be to move Tsutsumi across to right-back, where I like to see him play as he has good delivery during times he gets forward, and gives us extra solidity in the middle when the left-back goes forward and we can still have a strong 4 at the back. ‘Unfortunately’ Mishima also played very well against Jubilo so probably also feels he should be in the starting XI.
It is a difficult headache for Pusnik, but a nice headache with competition for places which he hasn’t always had.
An area where he doesn’t have that headache is midfield where we are still going to have to play players who didn’t start the season and ask them to try and fill the role.
Fortunately the team should have confidence having played so well against Jubilo and can largely stay the same. The only difference being that Ishizu has now left, but Kanamori should be eager to try and fill the space created by the dpearture of Ishizu.
Takeda has done ok in midfield, but was great at left-back against Jubilo; I’d ask the player where he prefers, there are positives and negatives to both.
Team I would play
This really is squeezing players into positions, and Ithink Tsutsumi probably wouldn’t be so happy, but in reality it would end up more like the German model from the World Cup of actually being 4 centre-backs with Jogo able to push on knowing Tsutsmi is behind him, and Takeda able to help midfield because he knows Seon is behind him.
There is some good news for Avispa with midfielder Kurogi suspended for the game after picking up his 4th yellow in the game against Thespa but it is unlikely to change the formation of Nagasaki too much.
They play with 3 at the back, and can leave those 3 defenders on their own for large parts of the game, trusting them to defend and allowing the wing-backs to play in midfield for much of the game.
A key point towards winning the game is for Jogo and Sakata to play on the egd eof the channels and force the Nagasaki players to play a little deeper than they would like. If they are allowed to get forward we will get swamped in midfield in a similar manner to the home game where we conceded 5 goals in the first half.
Nagasaki play in an interesting set of 4 banks with forwards trying to drift between midfield and attack to lose markers and create space. Avispa need to try and maintain their shape, and not allow the players on the wing to fulfil defensive and attacking roles with one player as that will leave other players to control possession in midfield and jump between lines. Noda will be returning to the team after suspension against Thespa and will be looking to pick out late runners into the box if he is given time to cross.
V-Varen Nagasaki 0 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
I think it will be a tight game, but coming off the back of the win against Jubilo the team should be willing to attack and I can see Kanamori scoring on his return to the team.
Nagasaki did beat Thespa last week, but it took 2 goals in the last 5 minutes to come from behind and Avispa need to be aware with that performance fresh in the memory they aren’t going to sit down if a goal behind with 3 minutes left to play.