Match Preview – 29/03/2014 – J1: Match Day 5 – Sagan Tosu v Gamba Osaka

The first and only trip of the season to Kyushu in the league sees Gamba take on Sagan Tosu in the late game, the kick-off time being 19:00 JST at the Best Amenity Stadium. Both sides sit in mid-table in this game following the opening 4 fixtures in the league and this, on paper at least, looks like a really balanced game.

Sagan have a balanced set of results after their opening fixtures, winning their first two and then losing the next two. Their home record is split for a win and a loss, first battering new boys Tokushima Vortis 5-0 but then getting schooled by early leaders Kashima Antlers by a scoreline of 3-0.

Gamba have lost the two meetings between the two sides in the league to date, somehow turning a 2-0 lead after an hour into a 3-2 defeat in the home game at Banpaku, followed by a 4-1 drubbing at the Best Amenity Stadium later on in the season. That home defeat could have been the difference between survival and the actual relegation we got.

There seems to be no new updates on any of the injured guys but at least Usami is getting his fitness back slowly and surely. Okazaki will be getting back later than Usami. There have been no new injuries to report, so all is good on that front.

AWAY v Sagan TosuKenta Hasegawa has been quoted in saying that he would like to use Sato as his main striker with Lins and Endo behind him, as well as Shu Kurata or Hiroyuki Abe. I like the fact that the manager wants to be positive and give the team an attacking boost that we have been missing thus far. My starting eleven would see Shu Kurata drop out for Akihiro Sato to give us a bit more of a constant threat going forward – Shu has also not been at his best yet and Abe has been excellent in the last two games. It is a shame for Kurata but if the manager will go with Sato up front, then I can only see Abe being the third player in-behind the forward. The rest of the team should stay the same.

I will expect us to take at least a point away from Tosu and I would be fairly happy with that. Yet it would do us a world of good to get the balance of the team right sooner rather than later, meaning more goals and more of the same at the back. I think we are more than capable of taking Tosu down with recent signs suggesting that we are slowly but surely getting it right. Lins and Abe will need to shoot a lot more on target than they have been but the use of Sato and Lins, coupled with the energy of Abe and skill of Endo should see us get our fair share of chances. Keeping it tight at the back against Yohei Toyoda and stopping crosses getting into the box will be vital. Iwashita will need to lead as superbly as he has been in recent times.

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