With 2 clean sheets in a row to add to the unbeaten run in the league that has put us into second place, Gamba Osaka will now be setting their eyes on achieving 12 games unbeaten at home, but more importantly that elusive win that the performances have deserved. They play a humiliated Matsumoto Yamaga FC at Banpaku at 19:00 local time.
This will be the first game between the sides ever and so I cannot give you any history on the two sides’ previous matches. Let’s hope this is only 1 of 2 matches between the 2 sides until Matsumoto make it into J1 with us.
Yamaga enter this game after being the first team to concede to FC Gifu this season, as well as the first team to lose to the team from central Japan and will be looking to hit back with a scalp of their own. Whether they have taken the defeat on the chin or not will be an influencing factor in this match. You can see the starting XI for that defeat to your left.
Given that this game will be the 2nd of 3 games in 7 days for all J2 teams, we will have to expect some changes by both teams. For Gamba, news is that Hasegawa will give Uchida the chance to start in place of Konno. This may be down to the fact that Konno did pick up an injury when away with Japan nearly a month ago and has not had any time to rest. Hopefully, Kenta will keep the back line intact. Looking further forward, Futagawa seems like the most likely player to drop to the bench with Abe probably taking his place, more down to age and longevity than anything else. Leandro has been challenged to score more goals after his wastefulness on the weekend, so I would expect him to start.
However, they have also yet to lose on the road this season, with an equal record to that of Gamba’s – 3 wins and a draw. Nevertheless, you would expect them to take that many points from the opponents they have played. Even with this record away, their home form is abysmal, taking just 1 point from 4 games. Another team seems comfortable on the road. Yet Gamba know that they have to start winning at home, so these streaks for both teams will have to end soon.
In terms of injuries, we are not quite sure whether Hirai was injured on Sunday and that is why he was subbed after being brought on for Leandro or whether it was to steady the ship by bringing on a defensive midfielder for the final few minutes. I assume it would be the latter. As for Takei and Myojin, both have started training again with Takei being on the bench for the Step-Up League match last weekend, so he will be close. Oh Jae-Suk seems to be slowly getting to fitness, whilst Kotaro Omori is unaccounted for and therefore probably injured.
As for Matsumoto Yamaga, I do not know much about their team. Takayuki Funayama is probably their biggest threat going forward, having scored 4 goals in 8 games, all of them coming in the 4 games before the defeat to FC Gifu. Furthermore, having only been a J.League member since last year, bigger things are expected of Yamaga this year. They have the talent to make it to the play-offs, as I am told, so this match will definitely not be easy. Do not underestimate them, but also do not underestimate Gamba either. This will be a fascinating match to watch (if we can watch it).
Given that Hasegawa said he will probably play, please watch Tatsuya Uchida. Last year he struggled as a right-back and was quickly dropped after 5 matches under Masanobu Matsunami. He has been at the club for a few years and will now want to stamp his mark in defensive-midfield and show that he can give good back-up to Konno as well as trying to go past him. We have to have faith in the younger players, especially as Nishino has settled in well at centre-back. Uchida will have to play well, but let’s expect he will. He is confident in his abilities and chances under Hasegawa.
2 clean sheets in a row and making plenty of chances, I cannot see Gamba failing to finally break their winless duck at home, so it will be 2-0 to Gamba Osaka! Just kidding, I have only got it right once so far. But I expect a win and so do the fans – for the players’ sake, they need to get it done quickly. The problem has been not scoring early enough and failing to convert the chances we have made well. Leandro will be disappointed with his misses on the weekend and should be fired up to prove his point, whilst the changes can only spur on the competition for places. It will not be easy but Gamba have made it this far unbeaten, and now with that tough start almost over, we just want to see them playing good football, being comfortable and winning more often. Expect and support!