Yet another mouth-watering game at Banpaku awaits us as Sanfrecce Hiroshima visit town for the second J.League away day in a row having already beaten Cerezo Osaka in matchday 1. This game kicks-off at 15:00 JST and is the first Sunday game of the season.
The previous match between the two sides came towards the end of the 2012 season which saw the game finish 1-1. Yasuhito Endo gave us the lead during the second half following some fancy footwork but the defence went wandering and Kazuyuki Morisaki equalised 15 minutes before time. Sanfrecce have picked up a couple of Nabisco Cup wins at Banpaku in the last decade but have not won at Banpaku for over 10 years now.
The teams come into the game in 9th and 7th place respectively, Sanfrecce losing 2-0 in their last game which was against Urawa Reds at home, whilst Gamba tied 0-0 with Vegalta Sendai away from home. With Sanfrecce playing the in ACL, they have won just one of their 3 away games, losing the other two, with that single win as mentioned before against the Pink of Osaka…
Takashi Usami had his first run outdoors this week after his injury picked up at the end of February so he will be back in action around mid-April which is brilliant news. Iwashita and Endo should come back into the starting eleven in place of Nishino and Futagawa respectively following slight niggles whilst Omori will probably make the bench. I expect Lins to start up front with Sato following their first goals of the season each against Vissel on Wednesday. Although Myojin was apparently brilliant against Vissel, I would expect Uchida to come back into midfield having being used as a substitute during midweek and Kurata should come back in for Yonekura. Kaji and Fujiharu will be expected to start following their rest from action, the latter missing his first game and minutes since 15th December 2012 when he sat out of a 3-2 Emperor’s Cup win over Machida Zelvia – a deserved rest. Do not doubt the power of our subs though as Yonekura, Abe, Futagawa and Myojin in particular may have their say on the result.
This game is not going to be easy at all and you would feel like a point would be a point well-earned indeed. However, to make a statement and win our first game at Banpaku in J1 since a 7-2 mauling of Consadole Sapporo in August 2012, a victory would be a good start. A clean sheet would not go amiss either considering our last one in J1 was in a 1-0 over Vegalta Sendai in November 2011. Yeah, that long ago. But this is the team that looks like it will break those ducks sooner rather than later.