With 3 defeats in a row, we will be looking to get to some sort of promising position when we entertain bottom-placed Tokushima Vortis at Banpaku with the kick-off time of 19:00 JST. This will be the last game played in the division on the day so knowing the other results should help motivate the players even further.
Vortis have won just one game and 3 points from their opening 11 J1 games since being promoted alongside us in 2013. They have scored just 3 times and have conceded 29 in that time. Their unlikely promotion looks set to end in the most likely of relegations with the team not having enough quality to take on the powers of J1.
The two games between the sides in J2 were highly memorable ones. The first at Banpaku finished 2-0 to Gamba with Hirai and Paulinho finding the target – on a personal note, it was my first Gamba game in person and it could not have been better. As for the away tie, the game was ours from the off and even though we conceded to make it 2-1 and gave away a penalty that hit the bar at 3-1, we scored immediately after that and the match will be remembered as the one where Usami scored 4 to give us a stunning 5-1 win. The target will be to complete the double over Vortis again and getting 3 points tomorrow will be nothing more than necessary.
There is no further news on any injuries – Tatsuya Uchida did go off on a stretcher on the weekend but we have had no news on that so he should be okay. Kaji and Okazaki should be close to returning but they probably will not feature in this game.
I have decided not to follow the predicted line-ups on various sites this week and have decided to to give you my opinion on what the team would be if I were in charge. First of all, I would change Niwa for Nishino (the latter our best centre-back by far last season) as the former has been making a fair amount of mistakes in recent times, although I think Hasegawa will continue with our mistake-prone pairing of Niwa and Iwashita. I would love to Ideguchi partner Endo in defensive midfield as the youngster has talent in bundles and no fear. Further forward, I would drop Abe for his weak performances in recent times and play Omori, Lins and Kurata behind Usami – the latter definitely has to start this game! All my hope for such a line-up will probably come to nothing but some of these changes need to happen sooner rather than later because the main culprits keep getting away with the leniency shown by the manager.
Anything but 3 points will be required against Vortis. Kenta Hasegawa has to start getting results or he could soon be given the sack, particularly with comments made after the game on Saturday saying the three defeats in a row “could not be helped”. This game should be used as a stepping stone for confidence and continuity with the starting eleven until the World Cup break because we have seen nothing but changes in every game so far this season. Something has to give and the sooner the manager picks a team and sticks with it the better. A win or bust – simple as that.