Match Preview – 03/05/2013 – J2: Section 12 – Gamba Osaka v FC Gifu

After a more than disappointing and frustrating draw again Gainare Tottori at home on Sunday, Gamba will be looking to return to winning ways and attain a clean sheet once more as they take on bottom-placed FC Gifu at Banpaku at 19:00 local time in what should be a similar tactical style from the away team to that of Gainare. The Gamba players will want to show that they can stop the draws at home and beat these stubborn, but smart, visiting teams.

FC Gifu v Montedio Yamagata

This is a special sort of preview as I have attained some excellent and in-depth information on our opponents via faithful Gifu fan and follower Stuart Smith of wearegifu.wordpress.com. This might just be the first completely balanced preview for a match that I have completed so far, so thank you to Stuart for his input.

There has never been a match between these two sides before, as will be the case throughout a lot of this season when Gamba meet teams for the first time, and it will be a fascinating tactical match which will all depend on how Gamba attack Gifu and how Gifu prevent us from attacking. Gifu will need to do the same to us as Tottori did, and probably even better, if they are to stand a chance of taking anything away from Banpaku. Gamba will be out to prove a point and Gifu must be wary of a backlash from our deflated boys in blue in black.

Our visitors can take heart from what Tottori did as well as coming into this match having drawn with Montedio Yamagata 1-1 at home on the weekend – you can see that starting XI to your right. They have also scored all 5 of their goals this season in their last 5 games. 4 of their 6 points have also come from their away games but they simply lack any real quality to maintain any decent form. This is what Stuart had to say on Gifu’s key players:

Atsushi Mio is Gifu’s best player. If given time, he can pick his passes and he usually has a good set piece delivery. Shibahara & Higuchi are on loan from Shimizu S-Pulse and are busy little players. Higuchi has woken Gifu up since he arrived. He is not the best striker in the world by any means, but he keeps defenders on their toes, something that didn’t happen earlier this season. It is unfortunate Desmond will probably be out because he is fun to watch. Tokihisa has saved 3 penalties already this year.

What you can deduce from this is that Gifu have some hard working players but they really lack any true quality that can beat the best in the league, although you can easily see that their players will give it a real go and work hard for whatever they achieve. Gamba will have to wary of this and be ready for a battle.

Gamba Osaka PredictionIf we look at the teams’ situations in terms of injuries and probable line-ups, we can see the gulf between the sides grows even bigger. With Nishino only on the bench on Sunday, you would expect him to make a return to the first eleven given that he will need some playing time before the big match against Kobe. Iwashita went off on Sunday with an injury but there has been no news of a long term injury which means that he could be okay for the match, but as one report suggested, his progression of recovery from his has been slow and this means he will more than likely miss out. Given that Niwa had a shocking match on Sunday and if Iwashita does not make it (or is rested for the Kobe match), would it not be sensible to move Konno back into defence and play Uchida with Endo? Other ideas could see Myojin make his return from injury to sit next to Endo instead of Uchida, but that depends on if the former-captain is fit enough by then. This would certainly be a temptation for me but it all depends on if Hasegawa can still trust Niwa. Furthermore, would Hasegawa be tempted to rest a few players with eyes on that Kobe match? He could give players like Oh Jae-Suk, Uchida, Abe, Okazaki and Kawanishi a chance to show their credentials whilst protecting and saving some players for the next match. I am sure all of them would give their best if given the chance. This might just help Gifu though, so too many changes need to be avoided to prevent a lack of cohesion in the Gamba squad. Either way, the team I would choose, excluding players with potential injuries, is to your left.

Looking at Gifu’s team, we can see that they have fewer players to choose from. Defenders Desmond and Nogaito are doubts for this match, with the latter missing their game on the weekend. Their holding midfielder Ri-Han Jae will likely miss out after picking up an injury a couple of weeks ago. If any of these players can make it back for the match, then it might just help Gifu out a little bit. Discounting these players, Gifu would have to pick an attacking side for their trip but only out of necessity thanks to the number of defensive players who are their injury tables. Stuart’s tentatively chosen team is to your right.

FC Gifu PredictionIt is going to be really difficult to pick a player to watch for this game as the team line-up is in the air thanks to the Kobe match on Monday and also down to injuries at the back. As a team though, what I want to see is Gamba show that they have found a method on how to break down the stubborn defences that will inevitably come to Banpaku searching for a point, and maybe more if they can chance their arm. Furthermore, I want us to get back to getting clean sheets and if Niwa does play, I want to see him take control at the back and to stop making silly mistakes that keep costing us and getting him a bad reputation.

So what will the result be? Stuart said that he cannot see anything more than a 0-0 for Gifu to take back home and given their defensive injury situation, they would see that as a point well earned. Realistically though, Gifu will have to be even better than Tottori were on the weekend in defence because of their own lack of quality. It might be a frustrating match for our boys if they cannot get an early-ish goal but I would still expect them to win comfortably, regardless of the starting XI that is picked. I am not very good at this prediction malarkey and with all these unknown variables, I would look stupid with any prediction. I would have to say that a clean sheet and a few goals are a must for Gamba – which is what I expect of course.

Thank you one more time to Stuart for his input on this longer-than-average piece. Please support his blog too as it is hard enough being a Gifu fan. If you have a slight interest in other J2 teams or even the JFL, then he provides excellent information about both divisions. His blog is a must for any follower of Japanese Football.

What do you expect from Gamba in their first match of May?

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