Gamba Osaka vs FC Tokyo
J1 2020 Round 13
Panasonic Stadium Suita
Saturday 29 August 19:00 (JST)
Gamba return home after a 6-day break to square off against FC Tokyo. This week’s match preview has been streamlined and also has several new graphics, please let me know what you think. As for our opponents, check out the excellent blog https://fctokyokaiguys.wordpress.com/ and the associated Twitter handle @FCTokyoKaiGuys for up to date information, match previews, reviews etc.
FC Tokyo travel to Osaka hot on the heels of a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Kashima on Wednesday night. The capital club rested a host of first team regulars for the game owing to their marathon schedule due to their participation in the Asian Champions League. Still, the Gasmen sit 4th in J1, 3 places and 2 points ahead of Gamba albeit with 2 more games played. That stat makes this clash pivotal for both as a home win would see the Nerrazzuri go ahead of their opponents with fewer matches under their belt, something that would surely give them a lot of confidence moving forward.
Truthfully, Gamba don’t come into this tie in particularly good form, they’ve only picked up a solitary win in their last four league games and that was a fortunate one at home to Yokohama FC. The performances in the past three contests have been tired and lacking invention, though the desire to get ahead early and rest weary legs by soaking up pressure is clearly the strategy Tsuneyasu Miyamoto wants his troops to employ. Will it bear fruit come the end of the year? That’s anyone’s guess in this unique COVID-19 affected season.
Ex-Gamba kantoku Kenta Hasegawa has his Tokyo side lining up in a 4-3-3 formation these days, a marked break from the rigid 4-4-2 / 4-2-3-1 we saw during his time in Suita. They’ve been stung by the loss of influential midfielder Kento Hashimoto to FK Rostov in Russia and attacking right-back Sei Muroya to Hannover in Germany’s second division in the summer transfer window, these departures compounded the absence of captain Keigo Higashi because of long term injury. For positives, the addition of Brazilian attacking duo Leandro (Kashima – loan – I still can’t fathom why you’d loan a player of his ability to a rival?) and Adailton (Iwata) in attack, the acquisition of youngsters from local universities, Shuto Abe and Hotaka Nakamura (both Meiji) as well as Kazuya Konno (Hosei) and importantly the promotion of players from their famed youth set up, Taichi Hara (top scorer in J3 last year), Takumi Nakamura and Kashifu Bangundagande have boosted their ranks.
Take all stats at the moment with a pinch of salt due to the disparity of games played between different teams in J1, but at present FC Tokyo possess the fourth most potent attack in the division (behind Kawasaki, Yokohama FM and Kashiwa). At the back things are a touch more vulnerable, first choice stopper Akihiro Hayashi lost his place to youngster Go Hatano for a few rounds and there seems to be an all round lack of depth in the defensive positions. As the FC Tokyo Kai Guys have repeatedly noted poor defending from crossed balls and full-backs playing opponents onside have been major contributing factors to a lot of their goals conceded this year, does this mean we are likely to see Patric in from the start again after a decent showing away to Kashima last weekend?
Head to Head
Gamba haven’t lost at home to FC Tokyo in the league since way back in 2008, a 3-1 defeat at the old Expo Memorial Stadium. Yasuhito Endo and current head-coach Satoshi Yamaguchi started for Gamba that day, while Shu Kurata came on as a second half replacement. Future Nerrazzuri legend Yasuyuki Konno as well as soon-to-be Samurai Blue star Yuto Nagatomo were in the Gasmen’s starting eleven.
Check out the recent head-to-head between the sides in the table below and you’ll see a clear home victory bias. Since Gamba returned to J1 in 2014 our home record vs FC Tokyo stands at P6 W 3 D 3 L 0 F 12 A 7. My personal highlight was Ademilson’s 95th minute winner back in 2018 after Diego Oliveira had equalised late on for the visitors. This was closely followed by Shu Kurata somehow being credited with the second goal in a three nil rout in 2017 when his effort would surely have been ruled as an own goal in any other league.
On-loan Jubilo Iwata defender Ryo Shinzato is the only absentee for Gamba at the moment, he hasn’t been seen on the field since February. Backup ‘keeper Jun Ichimori has been in fine form with the U23s in J3, but clearly that is not his true level, when will he return to the bench ahead of Kei Ishikawa?
A final piece of news is that U23 midfielder Mizuki Ichimaru has joined FC Ryukyu on loan, it’s unlikely we’ll see him back at Panasonic Stadium with the disbansion of the U23s next year and him being overage in 2021 anyway…good luck in Okinawa, Mizuki, I hope @OkinawaOzzy’s men get the best out of you.
As mentioned above, Tokyo captain Keigo Higashi is a long-term casualty with a broken foot, he has yet to feature in J1 this year. Young forward Kyosuke Tagawa dislocated his shoulder against Yokohama F.Marinos last month and should return soon while former Zweigen Kanzawa midfielder Kiwara Miyazaki is another who will be out for a while. 198cm goalie Go Hatano has dropped out of the matchday squad completely since the 3-3 draw at Hiroshima, his performance didn’t seem that bad, so I guess it’s down to injury.
Know Your Opponent – FC Tokyo
Kantoku – Kenta Hasegawa – Appointed 1 February 2018 – P 81 W 39 D 19 L 23 F 107 A 80 Points Per Game 1.7 Failed to Score 24 Clean Sheets 31
Key Stat: Hasegawa guided FC Tokyo to their highest ever J1 finish of 2nd place last year.
GK #33 Akihiro Hayashi – Veteran ‘keeper Hayashi had an interesting start to his pro career with Plymouth Argyle in England and then Charleroi in Belgium. Since returning to his homeland in 2012 he’s been a solid custodian for Shimizu, Tosu and now Tokyo. He briefly ceded number one status to up-and-comer Go Hatano, but is back between the posts for now.
RB #37 Hotaka Nakamura – An off-season recruit from the footballing production line that is Meiji University, Hotaka, one of two full-backs named Nakamura in the Tokyo squad, endured a rough ride in the Gasmen’s 4-0 battering by Kawasaki earlier this year, but has battled back well and appears to be slightly ahead in the battle to take over from the departed Sei Muroya.
RCB #4 Tsuyoshi Watanabe © – Captain of the side in the absence of Keigo Higashi, 23 year-old Saitama native Watanabe is still only in his second season as a pro after graduating from Chuo University. He’s struck up a pretty solid partnership with Morishige and looks like he’ll be a mainstay in the capital club’s defence for the next decade or so. Has already been capped once by his country.
LCB #3 Masato Morishige – Hugely experienced centre-back who has played 41 times for the Samurai Blue and featured in both the 2014 World Cup and 2008 Olympic squads. Originally from Hiroshima, Morishige actually started his pro career with Oita Trinita back in 2006. He has been with FC Tokyo since 2010, showing loyalty by staying with them through their J2 sabbatical in 2011 and holds an impressive goalscoring record for a defender.
LB #6 Ryoya Ogawa – Predominantly a left-back, but like many of his positional rivals in the squad, he has the ability to play on both sides of the back four. Joined from Ryutsu Keizai Kashiwa High School back in 2015, but spent large chunks of his first four years in Tokyo playing with the U23 side in J3. He is now firmly established as a first-choice in the top team, though it’ll be interesting to see how the development of young Kashifu Bangunagande affects that in the future.
DM #8 Yojiro Takahagi – Normally more of an attacking midfielder, however, a new formation, injuries and mid-season sales have seen Takahagi deployed deeper this campaign. According to the FC Tokyo band of supporters on Twitter the results have been mixed, but there is no doubt that the one time Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Western Sydney Wanderers and FC Seoul man is a fine footballer on his day.
RCM #31 Shuto Abe – Probably second only to Kawasaki’s Kaoru Mitoma in the ‘best signing out of university’ rankings for 2020. Ex-Meiji University midfielder Abe has very quickly become a prominent figure in the FC Tokyo side. His defensive play may require some development over the coming years, but so far he’s proven to be an effective supplier of ammunition to his more famed attacking colleagues.
LCM #45 Arthur Silva – A bit of an unusual Brazilian signing this, Silva arrived to little fanfare at the beginning of last season and actually played more times in J3 than J1 in his maiden year in Japan. His screamer away to Kobe towards the end of 2019 served notice of what he could do given the opportunity and he has gleefully taken the chance to play regular first-team football this campaign.
RW #9 Diego Oliveira – The ex-Kashiwa Reysol man will be on the hunt for his 50th J1 goal in this game and given his prowess from the penalty spot and around the box in general who would bet against him getting it? Quite a physical player, he’s best used as a centre-forward, but is also able to play just off the main striker on the right-hand side and this is where we’ll likely see him deployed in this match.
CF #11 Kensuke Nagai – Pacy Japan international whose goalscoring feats don’t really match his overall contribution to the team. He’s an ideal player to have in your ranks for away games when you are set up to counter attack. Had spells with Vissel Kobe and Avispa Fukuoka while still a student at Fukuoka University, but spent the bulk of his pre-Tokyo pro career with Nagoya Grampus, save for a forgettable year with Standard Liege in Belgium. Scored a double against Gamba in the 3-1 win at Ajinomoto Stadium last year.
LW #20 Leandro – One of the best signings of 2020, Brazilian winger Leandro moved to the capital after three, at times injury plagued, years with Kashima. Still officially an Antlers player, he’s been quick to show his former charges what they are missing by racking up 6 goals and 4 assists in his first 11 Tokyo games. After being unable to play against his parent club in midweek, the free-kick maestro will surely be raring to go for this one.
Other Options – Tokyo possess depth at full-back in the shape of teenagers Takumi Nakamura, a right-back, and Kashifu Bangunagande, an academy graduate who played against Gamba in the Levain Cup last year. Both have talent, but are obviously lacking in experience and will be hopeful of gaining some during this hectic campaign. Leabanese centre-back Joan Oumari is an able deputy for either Watanabe or Morishige while in central midfield Hirotaka Mita, often deadly from set-pieces, has flattered to deceive in general play since his return from Kobe, niggling injuries may have played a part in that. Further forward, pacy Brazilian Adailton has troubled Gamba in the past during his time with Iwata, 191cm tall Taichi Hara seems to possess a selfish streak rarely seen in Japanese attackers and wide-man Takuya Uchida has been on the periphery for the bulk of his senior career, but has seen more game time this year.
Predicted Line Ups
Gamba are ambling along not playing particularly well or poorly whereas Tokyo are in the midst of a fixture inferno and thus their form is a bit all over the shop. I am going to buck my recent positive trend and opt for a 2-1 away win which will subsequently be the wake up call Gamba need to pick things up going forward.