In another lacklustre performance by the blue half of Osaka on Wednesday, the team followed suit in Sunday’s match in front of a waning crowd at Banpaku, falling from over 18,000 against Kyoto to just over 11,000 against a big name team. The same problems have come along again and again so this will be one of my shorter reports.
Hasegawa did not take my advice for his team selection (surprise surprise) and only changed Ienaga for Futagawa. Hirai was not even on the bench! Konno and Endo were away with Japan so they were “covered” with any positive effects by Takei and Myojin. Kaji again captained the team.
JEF were a lot more positive as Kempes was dropped to the bench along with Kim, being replaced by Oiwa and Nam respectively.
Gamba Osaka XI: Fujigaya, Kaji, Iwashita, Nishino, Fujiharu, Myojin, Takei, Abe, Kurata, Futagawa, Leandro.
Gamba Osaka Subs: Kimura, Niwa, Uchida, Okazaki, Ienaga, Paulinho, Kawanishi.
JEF XI: Okamoto, Takahashi, Takeuchi, Yamaguchi, Oiwa, Y Sato, K Sato, Yonekura, Jair, Nam, Yazawa.
JEF Subs: Okubo, Kim, Ito, Hyodo, Kei, Fukai, Kempes.
Gamba started the brighter with Abe unable to find the target, as usual, with only 25 seconds on the clock after Takei played a smart ball over the top following fast play down the left. In the 7th minute, a back-pass to Okamoto was pressed by Leandro, forcing the keeper to kick quickly and straight to Kurata’s feet, but he could not control the ball, which went to Okamoto’s grateful hands. Kurata should have done better. JEF failed to settle in the 15 minutes with Gamba having the upper hand whilst failing to score. Things looked okay but Takei had other ideas.
After a scrappy bit of play in the midfield, he tried to hold onto the ball when he would have done better to just kick it away. Jair stole in and there was bit trouble. Takei and Myojin could not slow the JEF player down as he bore down on goal, where he took it to the right of goal, flat-footing a rooted and less-than-ready Iwashita, drilling the ball past Fujigaya in the opposite corner which gave JEF a goal with their first shot on goal.
A typical goal conceded by Gamba. Over-play in midfield which left the defence exposed and Fujigaya defenceless. Myojin and Takei have done nothing to impress yet, particularly Myojin, who I caught doing nothing during large periods of the match. In my podcast I keep questioning what he actually does, and the answer is nothing. Does Hasegawa not know this? Because I do! Honestly, play Uchida as the partner to Endo next match and get Nishino and Iwashita to fight over a spot with Konno in defence. Or simply, play them both and have Konno with Endo. But allow Uchida some playing time. Future manager – me.
It did not take long to get leveller after that 18th minute opener. Takei tried to make up for things by going for the spectacular but his shot was blocked and it looped into the air and Futagawa controlled impressively, passing it to Leandro who was crowded out and had his shot blocked, which then happened to Abe, but this time Kurata came in unmarked on the left and drilled a shot across Okamoto and into the bottom corner. His first of the season, finally, and back on level terms. Scrappy, carnage, goal.
Leandro should have it 2-1 after a delightful outside of foot pass by Futagawa but he could only hit Okamoto in the chest. Last year, he would have scored that. And again in the 45th minute, Abe crossed the ball to the near post from the left and Leandro was unchallenged but his header was tame and again, Okamoto had catching practice. Profligacy… and half-time.
A very boring half with not much to discuss, action-wise. Another game where Leandro was calling his teammates to push up the pitch and press the opposition, and once again they ignored him. Once again, the opposition pressed us into mistakes and once again we did not learn from it. Once again, Leandro was isolated and once again Hasegawa did not give him that striker he desperately needs. Hurry up Akihiro Sato, Gamba and Leandro need you!
The point to make is that Hasegawa keeps making the same errors with his team selections, with his tactics and his overall contribution (negative) to the team. When he was appointed manager, never in a million years did I believe I would be watching the same Gamba team as last year but without the team spirit. At least we got relegated fighting. He has come along and taken the fight out of the team.
Anyway, the best chances in the second half came to JEF. Shortly after Nishino went crazy and ended-up as a right-winger to tackle and get yellow carded (if you think it does not make sense, then you’d be right), Kempes waddled onto the pitch. Iwashita did well to get a foot onto the ball as he tried to get around the unfit Brazilian, but the ball forced Fujigaya to rush his clearance and he only ended 5 yards away at Nam’s feet who smashed the ball off the bar (thanks to a Fujigaya hand?) and the rebound came to Kempes who just about got it in, but used his hand and was booked for it. Let-off.
Up the other end, Gamba lacked that final ball and incision with many attacks petering out thanks to that. They never really looked like scoring. Neither did JEF until the last minute of the match. A free-kick from the right was met by former Gamba captain Satoshi Yamaguchi who did everything right but Fujigaya somehow reacted quickly enough to send the header onto the crossbar. Saved. I would not have been surprised if they had scored then, but they did not. Game over. Problems continue.
Quick notes on subs for Gamba. On came Okazaki for his first ever professional start, along with Paulinho and Ienaga, who both continued their poor starts by doing nothing to affect the game. Out went Abe, Futagawa and Kurata – it tells you everything when your supporting players to the striker are all taken off. The sooner Hirai and Leandro start the better. Or Sato comes back sooner than expected.
Man of the Match:
Shu Kurata was the most threatening player and most productive. Okay so he scored the equaliser but it is difficult to pick any player from either side. Jair was probably the best for JEF as he always looked like the one who would do something. Fortunately, his team did not get him involved enough but he took advantage when he could. Shu has been plugging away and working his socks off without the end result but he has been a bit unfortunate so far to have not scored more. He has been the best player when supporting Leandro and if he can keep going, he will be a lot more effective sooner rather than later. A shout-out for Fujigaya again after he saved us in the last minute and put his “error” against Roasso behind him.
Where it leaves both teams:
That result sent Gamba falling down to 8th position with 7 points. We are now unbeaten at home in 10 matches but have drawn the last 7. 4 draws from 5 matches so far this seaason is not good enough, at all. Fortunately maybe for us is that the last team we beat in a two match winning streak was Consadole Sapporo. And who do we play on Sunday 31st? 4-0 and 7-2 victories look a long way away now.
JEF are now on 6 points from 5 matches and have also hit 3 draws in a row. They are in 11th place and have an interesting home match against Giravanz Kitakyushu on Sunday. They will be the happier to get a point against Gamba.