The penultimate game in the league before the World Cup break sees us with a rare early start in a 13:00 JST kick-off against Nagoya Grampus at the Toyota Stadium. Both teams come into the game off the back of morale boosting wins as both have had to look over their shoulder rather than looking forward at the start of this season.
Grampus have yet to draw a game in their 12 matches so far, winning 5 and losing 7. This comes as no surprise when you see that their manager is former Gamba manager Akira Nishino who is known for his all-out attack style and not worrying too much about the defence. This speaks volumes when you see that they have had a total of 37 goals in their games, leaving Grampus in 11th on 15 points.
We got the better of the Aichi Prefecture side when we met them in 2012. In the home game, we came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Sota Nakazawa and Takahiro Futagawa bailing us out on that day but the bigger story came in the away match that saw us ruin the home side’s anniversary match, Gamba running out 5-0 winners. Leandro, Endo, Konno, Sato and Paulinho sharing the goals that day. We may need to take heart from that game to get a good result this weekend.
There are no new fresh injury worries that will have an effect on the starting eleven, even though Keisuke Iwashita did fracture his nose against Vortis and will be forced to wear a face mask in order to play. Tatsuya Uchida will still be missing mostly like, as will Kaji, Yonekura and Okazaki who all are coming to the end of their predicted period on the sidelines.
I would expect Kurata to come in for Lins as the Brazilian was just not in sync with the other guys on Tuesday and Shu will be buzzing now that he has his first goal of the season. One other potential change will see Abe return to the starting eleven after being rested slightly against Vortis but he also scored coming off the bench. Whether that will be in place of Futagawa or Omori will depend on if Futagawa can manage another long haul in quick succession. I would say Futagawa to come on and replace Omori as we can use our pace to counter attack. Other than those two changes, I see the same as last time and why not, being full of confidence following a positive result and display in midweek.
We need to realistically win this game to get away from the bottom 3 but a draw is not a bad result if we can get a win against FC Tokyo next weekend. I think our speed in the final third might well be too much for Grampus if we can prevent them from getting any decent chances. I do fancy us to take the win and use the win over Vortis as the starting point of our campaign, but you never know with our defence. Positivity is the order of the day.