Gamba’s first group game in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup for seven years`is a Kansai Derby against fellow promoted side Vissel Kobe at Banpaku, kick-off time 19:00 JST. Whilst I will be able to give you a decent preview, I will not be able to watch the match so the match report might be lacking in details.
This game will be the first of the group stages of the league cup that will run until the end of May, with the top two teams qualifying for the quarter-finals along with the ACL participants. 2007 was the last time we started from the group stages but we also won the competition for the only time thanks to a solitary goal from Michihiro Yasuda against Kawasaki Frontale.
The last meeting between Gamba and Vissel came on the 20th July 2013 at Banpaku and we won that game 3-2, with Usami netting a brace on his return from Germany and Endo netting what was to be the winner. Baré and Shinichi Terda helped Gamba to a 2-2 draw against Vissel the last time we hosted them in the cup.
With Iwashita, Endo and Omori all on different training schedules this week, they will be missing against Vissel. Apart from that, Hasegawa is believed to be sticking with a competitive line-up for this match which makes sense in no small part due to the team needing to gel more in an attacking sense whilst keeping the continuity at the back. I would expect Nishino in for Iwashita, Lins in for Endo and either of Futagawa or Abe or Yonekura for Omori. Kaji could be rested to preserve his ageing legs so maybe Yonekura will slide into defence but it would be nice to see Oh Jae-Suk given a go for once. I do not think there will be as many changes as other teams might go with but you never know with Hiroshima coming on Saturday. My predicted line-up is to the side, which will probably deemed redundant and well off the mark.
So what we really need is to get the attacking style of football going against Vissel, who are also bound to make some changes. Although I cannot watch the game, I want to here some more positivity from fans rather than the negativity we got from last weekend’s result. It would be good to see the players who do get a chance to play to make a statement for their inclusion from the start on Saturday.
And of course it is a derby, so we must win!