Match Preview – 01/03/2014 – J1: Match Day 1 – Gamba Osaka v Urawa Reds

Our return to J1 starts with a spicy-looking fixture as we are back with a bang, hosting fierce and hated rivals Urawa Reds. With a kick-off time of 19:00 JST, all eyes will turn to this fixture as the last of the day. Banpaku will be raring to go after a long and hard winter without our beloved team and anything but a win will be disappointing the sold-out crowd.

This year I have decided to focus only on Gamba to conserve my time on the most precious thing to me in the entire world so there will be no analysis on the opponents we play.

So to the previous fixture between the two sides which took place on the 22nd September 2012 in Saitama. The Reds were chasing the title whilst we were fighting for survival but it did not seem to be the case on the day as we strolled to a 5-0 win with a brace each from Leandro and Paulinho with Abe starting the scoring off. The tables were still reversed at the end of the season though with Urawa taking 3rd place whilst we took 17th…

HOME v Urawa RedsThe last tie between the two at Banpaku was a 2-1 defeat for us despite Sato making it 1-0 from a header but our ability to concede late in games that season was prevalent with Umesaki after Haraguchi made it 1-1 on 30 minutes.

Injuries for us have come frequently after our training camps in Okinawa and Miyazaki yielded none. Usami and Okazaki are both out for at least another 7 weeks or so. Sato, Kurata and Endo all had knocks during the last week and it seems like Kurata might miss out on the starting eleven at least this week. Sato and Endo should be in contention to start though which is very good news. Who plays as the striker as well as wingers is unclear with two sites both having different predictions but if Abe and Futagawa are fit then they will start, as will Sato, meaning just a place on the bench for the likes of Omori and Lins. Centre-back should see Niwa and Iwashita although this does scare me a lot and Nishino needs to be played at this level sooner rather than later, whilst Kaji will probably get the nod over Yonekura. There will not be any surprises elsewhere, however. It looks like only Masaaki Higashiguchi will be making his full debut at the first attempt.

I do not know what to expect from the match tomorrow except to at least avoid defeat. The players just need to show that we are ready for J1 again and that we can compete and beat some of the best. We need to play with no fear and have confidence – but beating tight at the back might be a problem for us if Niwa and Iwashita hit their usual styles.



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