Match Preview – 20/03/2013 – J2: Section 4 – Roasso Kumamoto v Gamba Osaka

The team now make their second trip to Kyushu in as many away games to take on struggling team Roasso Kumamoto at the Umakana Yokana Stadium. Gamba will be looking for back-to-back away victories whilst Kumamoto will be looking for back-to-back victories and their first at home this season. The day is a holiday in Japan and the game kicks-off at 13:00 local time.

The form book suggests that this match, which is the first ever competitive match between the two side, cannot be a draw, given that Kumamoto have not drawn a game at home since 22nd August against Thespa Kusatsu whilst Gamba have also only registered one away draw in that time, with a last-gasp 2-2 draw against Kashiwa Reysol – a combined total of just 4 draws at home for Kumamoto and 4 draws away for Gamba throughout 2012 in 38 matches.

Matsumoto Yamaga v ROASSO KUMAMOTOGamba sit in 5th place on 5 points with 2 draws and 1 win, whilst Kumamoto sit on 3 points after picking up their first win of the campaign on the weekend, surprisingly, against Matsumoto Yamaga. Saito scored both of their goals to put them 2-0 ahead, with Yamaga’s goal coming in the 93rd minute – this result put them into 18th place. Gamba’s 0-0 draw was disappointing but contained many positives, which were discussed in my podcast. Kumamoto’s starting eleven for their win against Matsumoto Yamaga can be seen to the right.

Gamba ought to be looking to get the balance right between attack and defence for this match, with particular emphasis on getting the final ball right as this was the only disappointing part on Sunday, along with the score (or lack of).

Although Kumamoto are seen as basement dwellers for this season, they must thank Saito for his two goals the other day which won them that game. Yet one of their biggest problems comes from their severe inconsistency. For example, in their last 25 matches, they have only draw 2, but hitting winning streaks of 5 games but slumping to 4 games without a win. This was partly why they ended up in mid-table last season. It is hard to predict which team will come out and play – similar to Gamba from last season.

Roasso Kumamoto v GAMBA OSAKA Prediction

Concerning the team selection for this game, there are a few question marks raised with the absence of Endo and Konno, who have travelled to Qatar for national team duty. Given that Nishino played at centre-half on Sunday, he will more than likely get the spot again, whilst Kaji should take up the right-side given his return on Sunday. In the “volonte” position, Myojin will more than likely take back his regular spot. But who will join him? If Ienaga’s fitness was better known, maybe he could have slid into that position. Without being risky, Takuya Takei is a solid player who should get in. We’ve had surprises already this season, so who knows who will be chosen! As for Futagawa, no news has reached us about his “injury” on Sunday, so he should be okay. If not, the Hirai should come in up top, with Leandro allowed to roam as he like to do. You can see my wildly predicted line-up to the side.

Keep an eye out for Takaharu Nishino. The young player (slightly older than myself) was highly effective on Sunday during his first-ever league start and will be looking to impress again now that Konno is not there to save his bacon. He kept Okubo quiet last time out, and you will expect him to be solid again and keep Saito quiet. It will be interesting to see his and Iwashita’s relationship build-up when Konno is away with Japan. We are all supporting you, Taka!

The team will be hurt that they did not get the goal(s) their efforts deserved on Sunday so I am expecting a backlash 4-0 win. Am I being too optimistic for wanting back-to-back away wins as well as back-to-back clean sheets? Absolutely not! Our game level just needs to be raised slightly to ensure that Vissel Kobe do not make their lead even bigger and given Kumamoto’s poor recent home record, and the fact we seem to prefer being away  from home, I can see only one result! Join me on twitter to follow the match coverage live.

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