The final league match before the World Cup break is upon us as we make the trip to the capital to take on FC Tokyo at the Ajinomoto Stadium for a 18:00 JST kick-off with both sides looking to make a move away from the relegation places and put themselves in a good position to move forward after the break.
FC Tokyo have been in a barren run in recent times in the league, scoring just 1 in their last 5 games and conceding 3 times, picking up a total of 4 points from a possible 15. Their only goal came at the start of that run when they beat Yokohama F.Marinos 1-0, but have since gone on to lost 3 in a row followed by a draw against basement dwellers Tokushima Vortis in Shikoku to add insult to injury.
The 2012 season saw FC Tokyo get the better of us in the two league games we played in, with the capital side taking 4 points from a possible 6. They won the home tie 3-2 thanks to a brace from ex-Gamba man Lucas and some awful goalkeeping from Yosuke Fujigaya, whilst the home tie saw us go ahead twice through Akihiro Ienaga only to be pulled back each time.
The last time we visited Ajinomoto Stadium, there was an absolute downpour and lightening storms which halted the game for an hour – all this after Gamba came from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 over Tokyo Verdy in July 2013. The game ended 3-3 with the conditions playing their part at the end of the game.
There has been no news on injuries or recoveries from injury although Tatsuya Uchida and Kenya Okazaki, especially the former, should be pushing for at least a place on the bench following two games out with a minor niggle. Okazaki might have to wait until the Nabisco Cup ties at the end of the month.
With this all being said, I can see only one change from the starting eleven from last weekend’s win over Nagoya Grampus, and that would be Omori starting in place of Futagawa. However, this is not a given considering Hasegawa might want to use Omori’s pace later on in the game – I say start him. Elsewhere, even with the return of Koki Yonekura from injury, I can only see Oh Jae-Suk keeping his place at right-back seeing that he has been exceptional. Iwashita will continue to play with a face mask as due to his fractured nose and I expect Nishino to start alongside him once again.
This game should see Gamba as slight favourites and rightly so seeing how we have played since Usami returned from injury. It would be a wonderful way to end before the break if we were to win and I cannot see why we will not be able to do it, particularly against a side with a new manager which has not scored in 4 games. Of course, taking a point on the road is always welcomed but when you can push one of your rivals further away from you, you must take that opportunity.