With promotion confirmable in this match (as long as Kyoto Sanga do not beat Vissel Kobe – let’s hope for a draw), we will be looking to do that in style in front of our fans at our penultimate home game of the season as Roasso Kumamoto make the long journey from Kyushu for this 13:00 local time kick-off.
Gamba waltz into this match on the back of that emphatic but highly dramatic 5-1 win over Tokushima Vortis last week. The final 20 minutes of that match went goal and incident crazy, with 3 Gamba goals, a missed penalty by Vortis followed by Usami netting his 3rd and 4th goals of the game to seal a delightful win.
Roasso also won their match last weekend, an impressive 1-0 home victory over play-off contenders V-Varen Nagasaki with Hayato Nakama getting the all-important goal into the second minute of first half injury time. That win practically sealed their place in J2 for 2014 following a long battle to escape the group down at the bottom.
The match between these two sides earlier this season came all the way back on match day 4 as Roasso came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. Leandro and Takuya Takei gave us a 2-0 half-time lead but two goals in 5 minutes by Yano and Nakama earned the home side a draw. The match will be remembered as the beheading day of Roasso-Kun, although whilst I was in Japan I was told a different story to what the media told about that incident.
Focussing on our opponents for the day, we can see that they are in some impressive form which has dragged them away from the relegation scrap. So much so that they have one of the best form records in the league, winning 4, drawing 1 and losing 1 in their last 6 games. All their wins were by a single goal margin but their defeat as a heavy 6-0 loss on the road to JEF United Chiba. They have only won 2 of their last 8 games on the road, with beating Tochigi SC as the only noteworthy victory. Keeping 4 clean sheets away from home all season is not a promising look for the side either.
With Keisuke Iwashita returning to full training this week, we thought we had a clear treatment table until Tomokazu Myojin damaged ligaments in his right knee during training on Wednesday and is therefore out for 4 weeks – the remainder of the season. Iwashita will not be ready for the weekend however and so the team will stay the same as the previous two weeks – why change a winning formula? Myojin’s injury will create a space on the bench so I reckon a defender will come in as none were present on the bench last weekend.
Our 18th placed visitors have 2 midfielders unavailable for this match. The first is suspended Yuji Yabu as he picked up his 4th yellow card of the season against Nagasaki last weekend, whilst Taku Harada injured himself just 4 minutes into Kumamoto’s 2-1 over Kataller Toyama in round 36 and has been out ever since. Other than that, they have a full roster to pick from and will probably pick their strongest side that could keep us at bay. Their predicted starting eleven is to the side.
He has been played as a “forward” recently and has been highly effective in the role he was and probably is most famous for so I say Yasuhito Endo is my man to watch against Roasso. Although he has not been scoring many goals this season, he sure has set-up a whole heap of them and playing in his “new” position as the “second-striker” has allowed him to influence games a lot more and in a positive manner. I would to see him get closer to Usami at times and threaten the goal himself a bit more. We will need his mastery of passing as well as craftsmanship on the ball to unlock another stubborn defence at home. He will go where he wants to which may cause Roasso many problems if they do not decide quickly on how to deal with him.
Let’s be honest now shall we. Roasso cannot leave Banpaku with a single point this weekend, regardless of the form they are in. We really learnt how to take our chances last weekend and even though Roasso will provide another brick wall for us to break through, I think we will achieve it in consummate ease. We have to put the pressure of Vissel Kobe and Kyoto Sanga who play each other at 19:00 local time so they will know our result before they play. We need to force them both into going all-out for the win but hope they draw so we stay top and are promoted. Come on Gamba, let’s retake top spot!
Photo taken from Sanspo. No copyright infringement intended. Original here.