With Golden Week in progress, we get the first mid-week J.League game of the season as we host Kashiwa Reysol at Banpaku, with kick-off at 16:00 JST. We will be looking to build upon our win against Omiya in our last home game whilst getting the last-minute defeat to Kawasaki out of our minds as we look to move up the table.
Reysol are in some decent form having lost only one of their nine games thus far, but will be aggravated by their inability to turn draws into wins, splitting the remaining 8 results 50/50 between wins and draws. They have only had 3 away games so far but have one just the one and drawn the remaining two – two clean sheets and two shut-outs against them say goals, but an average of just over 2 goals in the games says otherwise. Nonetheless, they come into this game on the back of a 3-2 home win against Urawa Reds.
Their confidence should be higher given their recent record against us in all competitions. The two teams met no less than 5 times in 2012 across 3 competitions with Reysol winning 4 and drawing 1. In the last league visit to Banpaku, they destroyed us 6-2 after we had a nightmare first half hour and the draw game in the reverse fixture, with now-Reysol man Leandro (injured for this game) netting the 90th minute equaliser. They knocked us out of the Nabisco Cup and beat us in the Emperor’s Cup final 1-0 thanks to some lax Niwa marking from a corner.
With Oh Jae-Suk picking up concussion against Frontale on the weekend, we might be scrapping the barrel for a player to cover at right-back whilst Omori may still have a slight niggle. Other injuries to Kaji and Yonekura are well-known and will take a while but Kenya Okazaki might be back soon and could even possibly get a place on the bench if Kenta Hasegawa deems him ready.
With the break in-between the Frontale game and this game so short, you would expect a few changes to keep the players fresh with an important trip to Yokohama coming up for us. At right-back, we might see Tatsuya Uchida play there having been a right-back previously although he hates it there – other possibilities are Niwa or Iwashita or Konno, meaning that Nishino might start to cover their void. In midfield, Uchida should drop out anyway after disappointing against Frontale and I would like to see Endo back in defensive midfield to control the game for us more. That would free a space for Usami to start alongside Lins, the latter evidently not a number 9 but he might well be a good partner to Usami. Out on the wings, I would still expect to see Kurata and Abe along Futagawa might be a good shout to keep on of those two fresh. With all this in mind, I have decided not to predict the starting eleven as the choices and vast amount of potential changes is horrifying.
What we need is a strong defensive performance and some threat up-front. If we play 2 strikers in Usami and Lins, we might be able to look a lot more threatening and worry the Reysol back line. On the other hand, I know this will be a tough game and a draw would be a decent result, not just because we have some very winnable games coming up. We need to start showing that we are not going to be in a relegation battle and we need to cause an upset or two, so the sooner we make a statement against a team like Kashiwa, the better.