We start the month of May with a must-win game against fellow struggling side Yokohama F.Marinos at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama with a kick-off time of 14:00 JST. Both teams will be looking for a win – we have 4 games including this one until the World Cup break that are entirely winnable.
Our hosts for the day come into the game in wretched form having failed to score in 6 of their last 7 league matches which has seen the team slide to just 2 points and one place ahead of us in the league. Although they have conceded just 4 goals in the last 5 games, it is their lack of fire-power up front that has left them struggling and for once we can say we are meeting a team with a worse attack than ours.
The last two meetings between the sides came back in 2012, the away visit to the Nissan ending in a 0-0 draw with Shunsuke Nakamura firing a penalty onto the crossbar whilst we thought we had levelled the game thanks to a Paulinho strike late on to make the game 1-1 but Manabu Saito netted the winner in added time for the visitors – that was the story of our 2012 season. Our last league win at the Nissan was a 2-1 victory in June 2009 with Endo amongst the goals on that day.
Good news this time around is that Oh Jae-Suk will be fit for the game a week after being concussed in Kanagawa against Kawasaki Frontale – this will mean a move for Konno back into midfield alongside Endo, with Uchida most likely dropping out following his substitution early on in midweek. Further forward, Omori will be pushing for a start ahead of Shu Kurata after his return from injury although I would prefer to see Abe on the bench having gone missing in the last two games. Finally, we expect Futagawa to return to his customary position on the bench and the forecast is that Akihiro Sato will get a chance once more to partner Lins having missed out in the last few games. All this means that Usami will be on the bench again as Hasegawa looks to ease him into full matches and with Tokushima Vortis waiting for us on Tuesday, we may well see him return to the starting eleven for that match – good news for F.Marinos.
Despite the teams being pretty close in the league, you would not be risking it to say that the game may just lack some goals with neither team hitting the heights in the scoring department. Both teams will have a lot to lose if they did come out with a negative result but I am sure both will be going for the win, which may lead to a bit more of an open game. We need to start making our chances pay dividends and keep it tight at the back. For once, we need to have a good game for the whole game and not just one half or a decent spell. That will be the test coming into this vital run of games where we could easily win all 4.
Let’s take Marinos down.