Having sent Kataller Toyama down with a convincing and thoroughly deserved 4-0 win, along with a wonderful performance, Gamba will want to get another home win under their belts, this time against Gainare Tottori, to dispel any final worries of their home form, whilst building upon the 4 clean sheets in a row and a Kurata-Leandro partnership that got the 4 goals last time out. Kick-off on Sunday will be at 16:00 local time at good old Banpaku.
The two teams have yet to play each other in a competitive match; they did have 2 games against each other during pre-season in 2 consecutive days. In the first match, Gamba played their strongest team and took a solid 5-0 win, with goals coming from Leandro, Abe, an own-goal, Ienaga and Paulinho. The game just a day later, this time at Banpaku instead of the Chubu Yajin Stadium, Shota Kawanishi scored the only goal of the game for a 1-0 Gamba win.
By now, we all should know how Gamba are doing and what the recent results have been. If we look at Gainare’s form this season, it is a tale of 2 halves from the first 10 matches. They were unbeaten in their first 5 matches, winning 2 and drawing 3 matches, keeping a clean sheet against a poor Kataller Toyama side. The next 5 games are probably closer to what Tottori will actually do this season, with 4 defeats and 1 draw; during this time, we saw them concede 3 goals in each away match, scoring just 1 in reply in those matches. They have also failed to score in their last 4 matches, leading to a slump from 2nd place at the end of match day 5 all the way down to 17th place after match day 10. You would expect them to arrive at Banpaku with the mind-set of defending to get onto the counter attack. If that works, then I quit blogging (joking, but it would be awful). You can see the team that started against and lost to Kyoto Sanga last weekend to your right.
With Iwashita, Nishino and Leandro all picking up knocks during the week, Kenta will be hoping they pull through for the match. Leandro seems like he will make it whilst Niwa can deputise if either centre-back fails to make it. Even though there are these small injuries, along with Myojin (potentially still injured), Paulinho and Sato, the team looks healthy and hungry for more of the same dazzling performances. The returns from injury of Oh Jae-Suk and Takuya Takei give a lot more chances in the way of changes, although there is no way I could see more than 1 change from the team that destroyed Kataller Toyama. The defence that has allowed just 7 shots to go on target in the last 4 clean sheet matches will stay the same, and the only possible change would be allowing Futagawa a rest, but that would be unfair given his good form recently. I would expect the same team, as always, and the bench to get stronger week after week. My prediction is to the left.
With the team being the same week-in, week-out, it will not be long before I run out of players in the starting eleven to tell you to watch and I will have to circle again. Anyhow, myself and Sebi said on our podcast that he seemed to be joining in the attacks more often and he was getting smarter with his play, so please keep your watchful eyes on Akira Kaji. After suffering a nightmarish season last year, he made it back against Yokohama FC and is getting better every week. The veteran is joining with attacks superbly down the right flank and his combination plays with Ienaga and Endo in particular emit intelligence. His last goal for Gamba came back at the start of the 2010 season against Kashima Antlers in the Super Cup defeat, but I am focussing on more assists for Akira. He has one (fortunate) assist to his name this season but I expect more will come from him as the games get ticked off. He is one of my favourite players, so I want only the best and more for him!
I think this will be a case of how many Gamba can get to be honest. It will put them in good stead for the game against Gifu next Friday before focussing on Kobe the following Monday. I will say anything from 3-0 and onwards will have been a good day at the office. Gamba will want to get the goals quickly and efficiently so that players can earn an early rest whilst allowing others to get some playing time, especially those who have just come back from injury or have little experience. Gainare will try to make it hard for us to break them down but with all that attacking talent and fluidity that our attack holds right now, they should surely be seeing how long they can resist the temptation of conceding a goal. It looks like this match could be any result in our favour and with Tottori’s lack of form right now, they better hope the score line is low. Join us on twitter for commentary of the game, play-by-play.