Having reached the end of March unbeaten and with an impressive performance in Sapporo, Gamba will be looking to start April with that elusive home win which last came against said-Sapporo team in a 7-2 win. It is definitely on the players’ minds but they hope to put that to rest against an average-looking Tokyo Verdy at Banpaku, kick-off 14:00 local time.
Gamba ended the month of March with 10 point from 6 games, which is not bad considering the majority of performances, putting them in 3rd place and 5 points behind early pacesetters Vissel Kobe who have a tricky home match against 2nd placed Montedio Yamagata. Tokyo Verdy, on the other hand, only picked up their first win last weekend against relegation candidates FC Gifu, strolling to a 3-0 victory with all their goals coming in the first 35 minutes of the match. They have also drawn 4 games but have suffered a defeat at home to Avispa Fukuoka. They were battered but not beaten by Kyoto and have kept 2 clean sheets. They have only scored 6 goals and have registered just once on the road in 2 games. This Giravanz-filled team has clear problems that Gamba must exploit. You can see that Gifu-beating team to the left.
Under their current naming, Tokyo Verdy have played 6 times at Banpaku, taking just 4 points in that time. The team has managed to lose 7-1 in that time and have conceded a total of 20 goals, scoring 7 goals. This fixture has been dominated by our men in blue and black, who have taken 26 points from a possible 36. The last time these two played one another in the league Endo, Sasaki and Myojin got the goals in a 3-1 away win in September 2008. The meeting earlier that season also ended in Gamba victory with Lucas and Bando on the score sheet. History is on our side, but so is the league form.
Gamba have reported no fresh injury worries ahead of this clash which is great news if that is the case (as we will never know until shortly before the match). That means Oh, Myojin, Takei and Sato will be missing for this match. Oh’s return is unknown whilst Takei’s injury was also noted after the Consadole match. Questions will also be raised about Shoki Hirai’s fitness as he has not made the bench for the last 2 matches. It would be great to see him there again. So for the team selection, expect more of the same after that amazing performance in Hokkaido. You do not need to see who I predict from that, but my line-up is to the right anyway.
Honestly speaking, I do not know much about Tokyo Verdy’s team and their injury list. All I really know is that their front line has changed a considerable amount between match day one and last weekend. There seems to be little in the way of a settled team and the former Kitakyushu manager has brought in nearly a whole team’s worth of his former players. This team will take time to bed in.
If you have yet to understand how important this guy has been for Gamba Osaka this season, then please keep an eye on Shu Kurata. He was my player of the month for March and was the heartbeat of the team last weekend against Sapporo with everything good coming through him. He has been the hardest worker and supporter to Leandro (and Hirai against Nagasaki) with the forwards also getting in on the goals. Shu has revelled in the central position instead of the left-wing position he took up last season and after a difficult start against Kyoto, he has flown out of the traps and is killing the opposition. He would like more goals for his effort, but his effort and quality is highly appreciated.
The final result prediction from me will be a 3-0 Gamba Osaka win. This Verdy side has not quite gelled yet whereas Gamba seem to be settling down to the task on this long J2 road. The consistency in the performances needs to start being shown and that is what I fully expect. This game’s pattern should go along the same lines, in terms of domination, like the JEF United match but I can see Verdy being locked out by Konno and the combination play between the front four from Endo’s tempo setting to be too much for Verdy. I am pushing for a clean sheet but that could be tricky with a probable contain-and-counter style by Verdy. Winning is objective number one!