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Gamba Osaka News November 4th 2019

#1 Gamba record 3-0 win away to Shonan Bellmare
I predicted a hard-fought 2-2 draw between these sides, however, it proved to be anything but as Kosuke Onose’s early volley and powerful shots either side of half time by Takashi Usami secured an easy 3-0 victory. The win was Gamba’s first on the road in over 4 months and now sees their overall away record this season improve to 4 wins, 5 draws and 6 defeats, the 12th best record in the league. Two away games remain this year, against Oita this Sunday and Urawa on the final day of the season December 7th.

#2 Usami finds his goalscoring touch once again
Takashi Usami talked in the buildup to the Shonan match about how important finding the back of the net was for someone in his position and he certainly backed up that talk on Sunday. As reported on Japanese twitter this was the first time since the 2-1 win away to Kashima Antlers on 12 September 2015 that Usami has scored twice in once game for Gamba (of course he wasn’t a Gamba player for a large chunk of the time inbetween). He now has 4 goals in 10 J1 games since returning to the club in July, and is only 3 shy of joint-top scorers Ademilson and Shu Kurata who both have 7. With home games against Sendai and Matsumoto still to come he may fancy himself to match or better their season’s total.

#3 Relegation still a mathematical possibility but looking increasingly unlikely
As mentioned in the Shonan match preview, Gamba’s win moves them 7 points clear of Bellmare with just 4 matches left. Gamba are now in 9th spot in the standings, ahead of Vissel Kobe on goal difference. Bottom club Jubilo Iwata defeated local rivals Shimizu S-Pulse at the weekend but can’t finish ahead of Gamba even if they win all their remaining games as they are 13 points behind with just 4 remaining fixtures. Matsumoto Yamaga are 8 points behind Gamba, however should we win the home match against them on November 30th then they wouldn’t be able to overtake us regardless of the results in the other games.

# 4 Onose set for international honours?
The EAFF Cup which will be held in Korea this year between 10-18 December may not be to everyone’s taste (cough cough Marcello Lippi cough cough), but it does provide an excellent chance for JLeague players to gain international experience while foreign based stars such as Minamino, Osako and Nakajima are ineligible. Right-winger Kosuke Onose must be in with a great chance for a first international call-up. Despite his club’s mediocre results this season, he has been a shining light with 6 goals and 4 assists from 26 J1 games….should Gamba’s decent run of form continue until the end of the season, whisper it gently, but could there be international recalls for Ideguchi and Usami?

#5 Shuhei Kawasaki to be promoted to the top team for 2020
As I write this (4 November 19:08 JST) Gamba haven’t yet officially confirmed the club’s worst kept secret that U23 assist king Shuhei Kawasaki will be promoted to the senior squad for 2020. Yahoo News are reporting it as fact and I expect it to be confirmed by the club within hours/days. I was at the U23 side’s 3-2 win over SC Sagamihara today where he netted a goal and an assist (he was interviewed right after the game, but my Japanese isn’t good enough to hear if they congratulated him only on his first senior or also on his contract) and he played mostly up front alongside Haruto Shirai before dropping deeper into more of a second-striker role in the second half. He has previously played mostly on the left-wing and that appears to be his favoured position. Kawasaki has 1 goal and 8 assists from 20 J3 appearances this year.

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Shonan Bellmare Match Preview

Shonan Bellmare (16th) vs Gamba Osaka (10th)
2019 Meiji Yasuda J1 League Round 30
3 November 2019 at 16:00 JST
Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka


The only J1 fixture on Sunday is a massive clash for both sides with Gamba looking to take a giant step towards securing their J1 status for next season and Shonan hoping to halt a horror run of 7 league games without a win that has seen them slip into the promotion/relegation playoff spot.

Gamba won the reverse fixture between the two back in June with Ryotaro Meshino’s 91st minute wonderstrike all that separated them and this followed the pattern set last year when both teams won their respective home game 1-0.

Shonan have been in a state of shock since long serving manager Cho Kwi-jae was accused of power harassment and forced to step down. He has since been replaced by Bin Ukishima, but they have lost their previous 2 home games heavily, 5-0 against Kawasaki Frontale and 6-0 versus Shimizu S-Pulse. They last won at home on August 3rd when they upset Kashima Antlers by a score of 3-2 but in the 8 league games played since they’ve won just once (3-2 away to bottom club Jubilo Iwata on August 11th) and drawn twice, 1-1 away to Vegalta Sendai and at home to Urawa Reds. Their season has now reached a crisis point as they currently sit in 16th spot in the standings, just one point from safety but also only two points ahead of 17th place Matsumoto Yamaga who are in much better form than they are.

In contrast to Shonan, Gamba have taken 10 points from the previous 8 games (2 wins, 4 draws and 2 defeats), although they haven’t won away since defeating Matsumoto 3-1 at the end of June, one of only 3 victories on the road in 2019. They do know, however, that 3 points on Sunday would take them 7 clear of Shonan with only 4 games left and would surely just about guarantee their safety with remaining fixtures at home to Sendai (12th) and Yamaga (17th) as well as away matches against Oita (7th – nothing but pride to play for) and Urawa (9th – the result of this game is likely to be swung by what each team still has to play for, if anything on the final day.)

Team News:
Takashi Usami (left thigh) and Ademilson (hip) both missed the 2-2 draw at home to Kawasaki a fortnight ago, but return to the matchday squad for this crucial clash. Unfortunately attacking midfielder Shu Kurata, who netted his 7th league goal of the campaign against Frontale suffered a fractured cheekbone in the process and is likely to miss the rest of the season. Usami directly replacing Kurata is likely to be the only change to the starting line-up. Kosuke Onose did well in a more advanced role so I imagine he may get another run there with Hiroki Fujiharu once again at left wing-back and Yuya Fukuda on the right, which is supposed to be his favoured side anyway. Veteran forward Kazuma Watanabe should keep his place after netting 3 times in the last 4 league games meaning that Brazilian duo Ademilson and Patric will have to make do with spots on the bench.

Shonan generally set up their side in a similar style to Gamba with 3 centre-backs, against Yokohama F.Marinos in their previous game these were; Takuya Okamoto, Keisuke Saka and captain Kazunari Ohno. Their wing-backs were Shota Kobayashi on the right and 19 year-old rookie Toichi Suzuki on the left with Temma Matsuda and a recently returned from injury Shunsuke Kikuchi in the midfielder engine room. On loan Urawa Reds player Naoki Yamada and the rarely used Kazuki Yamaguchi played just off 187cm target man Ryogo Yamasaki who netted Bellmare’s consolation, his 5th league goal of 2019 which draws him level with Kosuke Taketomi as Shonan’s top scorer this season, Taketomi having already finished his loan and returned to Urawa after the Cho scandal broke. Experienced ‘keeper Yota Akimoto has been an ever present between the sticks for Bellmare this year. Due to their poor run, changes can be expected from Shonan with dangerous Brazilian attacker Crislan, former Urawa attacking midfielder Tsukasa Umesaki and left wing-back Daiki Sugioka, a Japan national team representative in this year’s Copa America, all potential starting options.

Prediction:
A tough one to call for me, in theory Shonan should be there for the taking following 5-0 and 6-0 thrashings in their last two home games, but Gamba’s away form hasn’t been great for the majority of the season so I’m kind of leaning towards a draw. Shonan’s defence is leaky, conceding 57 goals in just 29 games (2nd worst in the league after Shimizu) and Gamba do have a fondness for a 2-2 draw this year (4 in total including 3 away from home), so that’s what I’m going to opt for.

Predicted Gamba Line-up:
GK 1 Masaaki Higashiguchi (33 years old)
CB 27 Ryu Takao (22)
CB 5 Genta Miura (C) (24)
CB 19 Kim Young-gwon (29)
RWB 34 Yuya Fukuda (20)
LWB 4 Hiroki Fujiharu (30)
CM 21 Shinya Yajima (25)
CM 15 Yosuke Ideguchi (23)
AM 8 Kosuke Onose (26)
AM 33 Takashi Usami (27)
CF 39 Kazuma Watanabe (33)

Subs: 23 Mizuki Hayashi (GK/23), 13 Shunya Suganuma (CB/29), 7 Yasuhito Endo (CM/39), 29 Leo Takae (CM/AM/21), 14 Markel Susaeta (RW/LW/AM/31), 9 Ademilson (CF/25), 18 Patric (CF/31)

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Gamba U23 squad review

With Gamba’s senior team having a weekend off due to the Levain Cup final between Kawasaki and Sapporo, the spotlight fell on the U23 side in J3, particularly as they were playing their final derby against Cerezo U23 before both clubs leave the league to make way for newcomers from the JFL.

Gamba U23 went into the match with no over-age players in their starting 11, only reserve goalkeeper Ken Tajiri. They took the lead in the 50th minute when Dai Tsukamoto played the ball to diminutive right-winger Jiro Nakamura and he somehow managed to squeeze the ball in from a tight angle. Cerezo U23 hit back late on and strikes from Mizuki Ando (83′) and Motohiko Nakajima (90+1′) earned them the 3 points and left Gamba in 14th spot in the standings with just 6 games remaining.

I decided to do something different with this week’s blog and I’ll use my crystal ball to predict the futures of the young players currently turning out for Gamba U23 (for reference; Tani, Yamaguchi, Okuno, Shibamoto, Shirai and Tajiri are on full professional contracts for this year, all the other players are currently high-school students who have type-2 amateur contracts which allow them to play);

#41 Kosei Tani – goalkeeper – 18 (years old) – injuries have restricted him to just 9 games so far this year, but he is clearly highly rated as evidenced by his call up to the Japan U22 squad earlier this month. Long term he is the natural successor to Higashiguchi in the top team and if Mizuki Hayashi goes out on loan next season, he could earn the backup spot and get game time in the cups.

#43 Shohei Ogushi – right-back – 17 – high school 2nd grader so ineligible for a senior contract next year. He’s been reasonably solid if unspectacular whenever I’ve seen him play. Gamba do have decent options in his position so it may be hard for him to make the step up to the first team in 2021.

#38 Hayate Toma – centre-back – 17 – another high school 2nd grader, he has only just come into the team and has definitely looked better playing alongside the more experienced Riku Matsuda. Too early to tell with him, but his height (185cm compared with Matsuda 175cm) is in his favour.

#42 Shinri Ono – centre-back – 17 – the 3rd 17 year old in the backline yesterday and similar to Toma he has looked better playing alongside a more experienced partner who can talk him through games. Very tall (187cm) and seen as a good prospect, though I’m not particularly convinced by him when he has the ball at his feet. He has another year of high school / youth team football to develop him and he could potentially be in line for a senior contract in 2021.

#35 Tatsuya Yamaguchi – left-back – 19 – Has played a lot of J3 football for someone so young (58 games and counting) but he hasn’t really kicked on this year after a stellar start last season (albeit in a much stronger side). Another thing going against him is that Fujiharu, Fukuda and Kurokawa are all blocking his path to a place in the starting lineup. Perhaps a loan move to a decent J3 side would be a good move for all parties in 2020.

#26 Kohei Okuno – central-midfield – 19 – Struggled early on in the season with injuries but since returning to full fitness he’s become one of my favourite Gamba U23 players. He has a decent pedigree after playing in the Under-17 world cup alongside former team-mate Keito Nakamura, however, his style is quite similar to Takahiro Ko who’s currently out on loan at Yamaguchi in J2. At the moment Ko is the better player of the two, so if he’s not near the starting eleven then I don’t see Okuno getting there anytime soon. Finally, I hope Morishita stops experimenting with him at full-back, it’s definitely not his position.

#32 Ren Shibamoto – central-midfielder – 20 – One of the senior statesmen in the side this year, he has really improved with the added responsibility. He has played mostly in the deep lying playmaker role (a la Yajima and Endo in J1) or more recently as an attacking midfielder. I’d say the deeper role suits him better and ideally I’d like to see him challenge Yajima next season. A loan move to a decent J2 team who play good football could also be beneficial.

#48 Jiro Nakamura – right-winger – 16 – A very exciting prospect who won’t be available for a pro contract until 2022. I’d expect him to be handed a type 2 contract next year and in 2021 to aid his development. He’s very tricky and nimble, similar in many ways to Takefusa Kubo, although naturally as he’s so young, the physical side of the game is too much for him and he can be a bit of a liability defensively.

#47 Shuhei Kawasaki – left-winger / occasional centre-forward – 18 – The player who I’m most confident will earn a pro contract for next year. He hasn’t scored yet in J3 but has 7 assists in 19 games this year. I feel his form has tailed off a bit as teams have grown wise to him, but he’s still a high-school kid so next year training with the top team would really aid his development.

#37 Haruto Shirai – right-winger / centre-forward – 20 – He’s listed almost everywhere as exclusively a centre-forward but I think I saw him play 6-7 times as a right-winger before he finally went up top and this was basically when there was almost no-one left to play there. He has bags of pace but is sometimes lacking in composure and he doesn’t have much to show in terms of output (goals and assists), kind of similar to Akito Takagi 2-3 years ago. I’m also not sure if there are fitness or attitude problems with him as he’s been on the bench a few times recently with high schoolers in the starting line up and I’ve also seen him subbed off with 30-35 minutes of a game to go when he was playing well. At the moment it’s hard to see him cracking the top team so he may be playing in J3 or JFL next season.

#49 Dai Tsukamoto – centre-forward / left-winger – 18 – Scored a memorable hat-trick against Tottori on his 18th birthday back in June but hasn’t really stepped up since then. He is eligible for a senior contract next year but with the U23 team being dissolved and the first-team squad presumably being a bit smaller I feel he might not quite make it.

Subs: #31 Ken Tajiri (GK), #44 Keishi Murakami (LB), #45 Ko Ise (CM)…Tajiri is at a career crossroads, with no U23 team next year he should leave for another J3 side, although if Hayashi goes out on loan he may stay on as backup. Murakami and Ise are both in high school 2nd grade and play in positions currently well covered in the top team so their futures remain a bit cloudy.

Final Thoughts
Riku Matsuda (centre-back / occasional right-back) is captain of the U23 side and was suspended for this game, I’d like to see him challenge Ryu Takao for a starting place in J1 next season as his leadership and reading of the game have really improved this season. Shoji Toyama (centre-forward) missed the game as he’s currently with Japan U17 at the U17 world cup, he looks a great prospect and has scored 7 goals in just 7 games this year (5 starts 2 sub) including a hat-trick in the 6-0 drubbing of Fukushima last month. He is really composed for a 17 year old and I’m sure good things lie ahead for him (type 2 contract next year, pro contract for 2021).

Regarding the bunch of type-2 players who featured earlier in the season (Hayato Okuda, Naoya Takahashi, Sho Nishimura, Yuto Nagao, Soma Meshino), I’m assuming that they are not playing now due to other commitments in their final year of high school (I could very well be wrong). Out of that group, who are all eligible for senior contracts next year, I’d say right-back Okuda and centre-back / occasional central-midfield Naoya Takahashi were the two players who impressed me most and would be most likely to join Kawasaki in earning their first professional contracts in 2020.

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Gamba hold Kawasaki to 2-2 draw, move up to 9th place

Kawasaki came into the game in 4th place looking to close in on a Champions League place for next year while the home side were looking to ease lingering relegation worries. In the end both had to settle for a share of the spoils following an entertaining game.

Gamba, missing both Takashi Usami and Ademilson due to injury, pushed Kosuke Onose into a more attacking role just off veteran striker Kazuma Watanabe. This move paid immediate dividends as Shu Kurata and Onose exchanged passes down the left side and Onose then unleashed a thunderous strike from just outside the area which crashed off of the Kawasaki crossbar, bounced on the line, touched the crossbar again before rebounding to the grateful Watanabe who tapped into an empty net, 1-0 Gamba after just 5 minutes.

Kawasaki quickly settled after their early setback and dominated possession and territory for most of the rest of the half, however, they were unable to find an equaliser with tall Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao (an excellent selection as Gamba always struggle against tall or fast Brazilians – way too much respect given) going closest with a header just wide. Yajima and Ideguchi had half chances for Gamba but in truth Kawasaki would have felt slightly aggrieved not to go in level at half time.

The second half started with a surprise change for Kawasaki, impressive young midfielder Ao Tanaka, fresh from scoring a double for Japan U-22 midweek replacing the versatile Hidemasa Morita in central midfield. The switch seemed to galvanise Frontale and they quickly seized the initiative. On 51 minutes, Damiao nodded down for Ryota Oshima and he slid the ball past Masaak Higashiguchi in the Gamba goal. Just 12 minutes later Damiao was the scorer, Kyohei Noborizato broke down the right and fed the ball to ex-Gamba star Akihiro Ienaga who in turn found Damiao who was allowed to swivel (too easily?) and angle a shot past Higashiguchi. 2-1 to the reigning J1 champions.

Kawasaki’s lead was to be short-lived however, as just 2 minutes later Onose swung in a cross from the right and Kurata placed a beautiful header into the bottom corner, his 7th J1 goal of the current campaign which puts him joint 1st with Ademilson. That goal could be Kurata’s final contribution this season as after connecting he was knocked unconscious by Kawasaki right-back Noborizato who was late arriving for the header. Both players had to be replaced with head injuries and it was later revealed by Gamba that Kurata had suffered a fractured left cheekbone, get well soon Shu!

Akihiro Ienaga had two good chances to win the game late on but was off target on both occasions, while Gamba threw on ex-Frontale forward Patric in place of Watanabe, but to no avail. 2-2 the final score.

The result, coupled with others elsewhere moved Gamba up to 9th in the standings, the first time they’ve been in the top half since their round 4 win over Kawasaki back in March. Victory away to crisis-hit Shonan in 2 weeks would put us 7 points ahead of them with 4 games left to play. Following that up with positive results at home to Sendai (Nov 23) and Matsumoto (Nov 30) would surely secure J1 football for next year.

Information
Gamba Osaka 2-2 Kawasaki Frontale
Panasonic Stadium Suita
Attendance: 25,748
Temp./Humidity: 24.8C / 57%

Gamba Osaka: Masaaki Higashiguchi; Ryu Takao, Genta Miura, Kim Young-gwon; Yuya Fukuda, Shinya Yajima, Yosuke Ideguchi, Hiroki Fujiharu (Markel Susaeta 62′); Kosuke Onose, Shu Kurata (Leo Takae 68′); Kazuma Watanabe (Patric 87′).
Unused Subs: Mizuki Hayashi, Shunya Suganuma, David Concha, Yasuhito Endo.
Goals: Watanabe 5′, Kurata 65′
Assists: Onose 65′
Yellow Cards: Fukuda 90+3′

Kawasaki Frontale: Shota Arai; Kyohei Noborizato (Yasuto Wakizaka 69′), Kazuya Yamamura, Shogo Taniguchi, Shintaro Kurumaya; Hidemasa Morita (Ao Tanaka 46′), Ryota Oshima; Akihiro Ienaga, Kengo Nakamura (Hokuto Shimoda 78′), Tatsuya Hasegawa; Leandro Damiao.
Unused Subs: Jung Sung-ryong, Manabu Saito, Yu Kobayashi, Kei Chinen.
Goals: Oshima 51′, Leandro Damiao 63′
Assists: Leandro Damiao 51′, Ienaga 63′
Yellow Cards: Ienaga 41′, Kurumaya 90+6′

Gamba U23 unable to stop winless run

Gamba U23, who’d stopped the rot of 4 successive defeats with a draw away to Gainare Tottori last week, were unable to go one better against Kamatamare Sanuki and had to once again settle for a point.

No overage players were selected for this game so the starting line up had an average age of just 18 years old and contained a mixture of 6 professionals and 5 high school students. Captain Riku Matsuda made his 50th J3 appearance in this game, while Shohei Ogushi returned at right back and Kohei Okuno moved into his more natural position of central midfield.

The first half was a rather cagey affair with Gamba U23’s best chances coming through free-kicks from Ren Shibamoto and Shuhei Kawasaki. In the end neither side could find the back of the net and it was goalless at the interval.

Gamba U23 rejigged things at half time, replacing central midfielder Ko Ise with the more attacking Dai Tsukamoto, a move that allowed Shibamoto to move into a deeper role alongside Okuno, his best position in my opinion. The substitution quickly paid off as Tsukamoto played the ball through to Shibamoto just inside the box in the 65th minute and he managed to prod the ball past Kenta Shimizu in the Sanuki goal to give the visitors the lead.

The joy from that goal would be short-lived though as Matsuda was sent off for a second bookable offence just three minutes later. This prompted another reshuffle as centre-back Shinri Ono came on for right-winger Jiro Nakamura to try to shore things up at the back. Initially Gamba U23 held out well against the waves of Sanuki attacks that followed but an own goal with just 5 minutes of normal time remaining meant they left Shikoku with just a point and will now head into the home derby match against Cerezo U23 next week aiming to snap a 6 game run without a victory.

Information
Kamatamare Sanuki 1-1 Gamba Osaka U23
Pikara Stadium
Attendance: 1,786
Temp. / Humidity: 23.6C / 41%

Kamatamare Sanuki: Kenta Shimizu; Kenji Arabori, Akira Takeuchi, Shogo Asada, Takuya Nagasawa; Kenshiro Suzuki (Kenta Sawada 85′), Kazumasa Takagi, Hironori Nishi (Ryosuke Kijima 68′), Kentaro Shigematsu, Yuki Morikawa; Yuki Fuke (Tomoya Takeshita 79′).
Unused Subs: Yusuke Akahoshi
Goals: Own goal 85′
Yellow Cards: Takagi 30′, Takeshita 90+4′

Gamba Osaka U23: Kosei Tani; Shohei Ogushi, Riku Matsuda, Hayate Toma, Tatsuya Yamaguchi; Kohei Okuno, Ko Ise (Dai Tsukamoto 46′); Jiro Nakamura (Shinri Ono 70′), Ren Shibamoto, Shuhei Kawasaki; Haruto Shirai (Keishi Murakami 90+2′).
Unused Subs: Wang Xinyu
Goals: Shibamoto 65′
Assists: Tsukamoto 65′
Yellow Cards: Okuno 35′, Matsuda 49′, 68′

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Gamba Osaka VS Kawasaki Frontale match preview

Gamba Osaka (12th) vs Kawasaki Frontale (4th)
2019 Meiji Yasuda J1 League Round 29
19 October 2019 at 14:00 JST
Panasonic Stadium Suita


Both sides return to league business this week following League Cup action during the international break. Kawasaki successfully reached the final with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Kashima Antlers while Gamba were eliminated on away goals by Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.

In the league, Gamba lost their first 4 home games this year, but have gone unbeaten in the next 10 with their last home defeat coming against Urawa on April 14th. They’ve also won 5 of their last 8 league games at home, however the 5-0 rout of Sapporo in round 28 is the only time they’ve won by more than one goal, Cerezo, Shonan, S-Pulse and Tosu have all been seen off by 1-0 scorelines.

Kawasaki, on the other hand, are statistically the best away side in J1 with 26 points from 13 games which includes 8 victories, also a league high. They, like Gamba, won their previous match 5-0, in their case away to Shonan Bellmare, with 4 of the goals coming inside the first 35 minutes of the match. Prior to that they had lost 2 out of 3 league contests with the defeats coming against Gamba’s Kansai rivals, losing 2-1 both at home to Kobe and away to Cerezo.

Gamba won the reverse fixture between these sides in round 4 back in March. Genta Miura’s 91st minute strike was all that separated the two teams, both notorious for starting seasons slowly. Gamba were also victorious in the corresponding game last year, goals from Kazuma Watanabe and Fabio giving them what, at the time, was considered a surprise win, however, it went on to kickstart their season and was ultimately the first of nine consecutive J1 victories under Tsuneyasu Miyamoto.

Team News:
Kim Young-gwon returns to the Gamba squad after missing the league cup semi-final due to an international call-up and will surely take Shunya Suganuma’s place in the back 3. Yahoo Japan have reported that Takashi Usami is likely to miss this game after he went off injured against Consadole in the first half of last Sunday’s clash, he’s said to be targeting the match away to Shonan Bellmare on November 3rd for his return. The same Yahoo article also stated that Ademilson was a doubt for Saturday after injuring a leg muscle in the same game as Usami, though given his performance last Sunday it’s possible he was in line to be dropped to the bench anyway.

It would definitely be a big blow for Gamba if Usami is ruled out as he’s started to come into decent form following his mid-season return from a spell in Germany. Patric and Watanabe could form the strikeforce in the absence of Usami and Ademilson or if they are considered too similar to each other, big name Spaniard Markel Susaeta might come into the starting eleven, playing just off Patric.

Elsewhere, Yuto Suzuki is unable to play against his parent club, he could have potentially made the bench due to the attacking injury problems. Attacking midfielders Leo Takae, Daisuke Takagi and David Concha are likely to compete for the 2 bench slots made available by Ademilson and Usami’s injuries, all 3 of them played in Gamba U23’s draw away to Gainare Tottori in J3 last week.

For Kawasaki, centre-backs Tatsuki Nara (a target for Gamba last winter) and Jesiel are out injured. These losses have seen Shintaro Kurumaya, more normally a full-back partnering Shogo Taniguchi in the heart of the defence, former Cerezo utility player Kazuya Yamamura is another option. The 2017 and 2018 league champions have also struggled to adequately replace Brazilian right-back Elsinho, who surprisingly moved to S-Pulse last winter and have had something of a rotation policy going on in his absence. Hidemasa Morita, who starred in central midfield last season, played there in the previous league match away to Shonan, while Kazuaki Mawatari and Kyohei Noborizato took turns in the league cup matches against Kashima.

Going forward, however, Kawasaki have a plethora of options, including former Gamba favourites, the creative Akihiro Ienaga and Hiroyuki Abe who’s scored 7 goals in just 18 J1 games this year (and is a player I’d happily welcome back to Gamba). Central midfielder Ryota Oshima returned from an injury lay-off as a sub against Kashima and could come into consideration for a starting role in this game. Fellow midfielder Ao Tanaka scored twice for Japan Under-22 in their 3-2 win away to their Brazilian counterparts, however his late arrival back in Japan may preclude him from starting this fixture..

Prediction:
Prior to the previous home game with Consadole Sapporo I felt I’d be happy with 10 points from the remaining 4 home games, with 3 points already in the bag and the final 2 matches being against struggling Sendai and Matsumoto, I’d definitely take a draw in this game. That said Kawasaki may be an ageing side who’s standards have slipped a little this year, but they still possess a wealth of talent, particularly in midfield and attack and come into the game in decent form.

While Gamba are desperate to move away from the fight to avoid the 16th place relegation play-off spot, Kawasaki will be equally motivated to move into the top 3 and seal a place in next season’s Asian Champions League. With my heart ruling my head I’ll go for a 1-1 draw, but maybe a more realistic prediction would be a 2-1 Kawasaki win.

Predicted Gamba Line-up:
GK 1 Masaaki Higashiguchi (33 years old)
CB 27 Ryu Takao (22)
CB 5 Genta Miura (C) (24)
CB 19 Kim Young-gwon (29)
RWB 8 Kosuke Onose (26)
LWB 34 Yuya Fukuda (20)
DM 21 Shinya Yajima (25)
CM 15 Yosuke Ideguchi (23)
CM 10 Shu Kurata (30)
CF 18 Patric (31)
CF 39 Kazuma Watanabe (33)

Subs: 23 Mizuki Hayashi (GK/23), 13 Shunya Suganuma (CB/29), 4 Hiroki Fujiharu (LB/LWB/30), 7 Yasuhito Endo (CM/39), 14 Markel Susaeta (RW/LW/AM/31), 11 David Concha (RW/LW/CF/22), 20 Daisuke Takagi (RW/LW/CF/24)

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Weekend Round-Up

Gamba eliminated from YBC Levain Cup on away goals

Gamba entered the second-leg of their YBC Levain Cup semi-final against Hokkaido Consadole holding just a slender 2-1 lead from the first game in Osaka. Kim Min-tae’s late goal for Consadole looked like it may be crucial and so it proved.

Both teams had chances in a goalless first half with Ademilson threatening for Gamba and Fukumori hitting the base of the post with a free-kick from just outside the area for Sapporo. Gamba were dealt a cruel blow in the 34th minute when Takashi Usami was forced to leave the field injured, he was replaced by Patric.

Consadole started the second half stronger, but it was Gamba who had the first big chance of the half, however Ademilson was once again unable to convert, hitting his shot straight at Takanori Sugeno in the opposition goal and firing the rebound wide. It would prove to be a costly miss as in the 76th minute Sapporo broke upfield and a fierce shot from Japanese international forward Musashi Suzuki flew past Masaaki Higashiguchi in the Gamba goal. It was a goal worthy of winning any game and it proved to be the decisive one in this tie.

Gamba threw on Markel Susaeta for Shinya Yajima in midfield and replaced the wasteful Ademilson with the taller Kazuma Watanabe for a final push towards an equalising goal. It was not to be as despite forcing 3 corners inside injury time, they were unable to convert and Consadole advanced to their first ever national final on away goals where they will play Kawasaki Frontale who saw off Kashima Antlers 3-1 on aggregate.

Information:

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 1-0 Gamba Osaka
Musashi Suzuki (76)
Assist: Jay
Attendance: 15,996 (in Sapporo Dome)
Temperature/Humidity: 23.6C / 50%

Sapporo: (3-4-2-1) Sugeno; Shindo, Kim, Fukumori; Shirai (Lucas Fernandes 59′), Fukai (Kaneko 85′), Miyazawa, Suga (Ishikawa 89′); Suzuki, Arano; Jay.
Unused Subs: Awaka, Nakano, Hayasaka, Iwasaki.
Yellow Cards: Sugeno (90′)

Gamba: (3-5-2) Higashiguchi; Takao, Miura, Suganuma; Onose, Fukuda; Yajima (Susaeta 79′), Ideguchi, Kurata; Ademilson (Watanabe 85′), Usami (Patric 34′).
Unused Subs: Hayashi, Aoyama, Fujiharu, Endo.
Yellow Cards: None

Stats
Sapporo Gamba
Shots: 13 16
Corners: 5 11
Free Kicks: 5 8

Gamba U23 snap 4 game losing run with 2-2 draw away to Gainare Tottori

A first half own-goal and a second half strike by David Concha, his first in Japan were enough to earn Gamba U23 a battling 2-2 draw and move them up to 12th in the overall standings.

Gamba U23 took the opportunity to field 3 overage players in this game with debutants Yuto Suzuki and Daisuke Takagi joining goalkeeper Ken Tajiri in the starting line-up. There was also a start for fan-favourite Leo Takae who seems to be out of the picture with the J1 side at the moment.

A defensive blunder gifted Gamba U23 the lead in the 29th minute, but goals by Naoya Uozato and Masamichi Hayashi either side of half-time gave the home side a slender lead going into the final 10 minutes. However just as they did the previous week against Toyama, Gamba U23 responded with a goal of their own through Spanish forward Concha with assist king Shuhei Kawasaki providing the cross. Gamba U23 pressed for the winner but were unable to find one and had to settle for a draw. Their next match is away to 13th place Kamatamare Sanuki at 13:00 (JST) on October 20th.

Information:

Gainare Tottori 2-2 Gamba Osaka U23
Naoya Uozato (35) Own goal (29′)
Masamichi Hayashi (78′) David Concha (83′)
Attendance: 1,850 (at The Tottori Bank Bird Stadium)
Temperature/Humidity: 21.4C / 45%

Tottori: (3-4-3) Kitano; Ikegaya, Inoue, Takahata; Uematsu, Kani (Yuri 87′), Fukumura, Uozato; Vitor Gabriel (Oya 58′), Hayashi, Misawa (Fernandinho 73′).
Unused Subs: Inoue, Ishii, Hoshino, Suzuki.
Yellow Cards: None

Gamba U23: (4-2-3-1) Tajiri; Suzuki, Okuno, Matsuda, Yamaguchi; Shibamoto, Takae (Ise 71′); Takagi (Nakamura 83′), Concha, Kawasaki; Shirai (Tsukamoto 81′).
Unused Subs: Wang, Toma.
Yellow Cards: None

Stats
Tottori Gamba U23
Shots: 8 6
Corners: 3 1
Free Kicks: 7 8

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Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo vs Gamba Osaka (YBC Levain Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg) Preview

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo vs Gamba Osaka
YBC Levain Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg
13 October 2019 at 14:00 JST
Sapporo Dome


Gamba take a slender 2-1 advantage into this game following Shu Kurata’s injury time winner at Panasonic Stadium Suita on Wednesday. A draw would be enough to take them through, but both of Wednesday night’s goalscorers, Kurata and Takashi Usami, were quick to point out, when talking to Gamba’s official website, that playing for a draw was not a good strategy to employ against opposition as strong as Consadole. The winning side will play either Kashima Antlers and Kawasaki Frontale on October 26th in Saitama.

Team News:
Gamba are still without South Korean centre-back Kim Young-gwon who is away on international duty, everyone else is ready to play. The only possible changes would be for Yasuhito Endo coming in for Shinya Yajima in the deep-lying playmaker role, while Hiroki Fujiharu could replace Yuya Fukuda and Patric may take the place of his compatriot Ademilson. However, I feel Head Coach Miyamoto is unlikely to tinker too much and we’ll likely see either the same starting line-up as Wednesday or just Endo replacing Yajima,

For Consadole, key attacking midfielder Chanathip was injured and forced to pull out of Thailand’s squad, while 195cm former Cerezo Osaka goalkeeper Gu Sung-yun is away with South Korea ahead of their derby match with North Korea on Tuesday. English striker Jay Bothroyd could come into the starting line-up following a brief substitute appearance on Wednesday.

Prediction:
Gamba have the upper hand in head-to heads this season, leaving Sapporo with a 0-0 draw back in May, before winning the reverse fixture 5-0 just last week. Being a finely balanced cup tie means this could go either way, but Gamba have already used away goals in their favour this year in the quarter-final victory over FC Tokyo. An early Gamba goal would leave Consadole with a mountain to climb and I think that’s what we may see with a second half equaliser leaving the final score 1-1 and Gamba advancing to the final (probably against Kawasaki).

Predicted Gamba Line-up:

GK 1 Masaaki Higashiguchi (33 years old)
CB 27 Ryu Takao (22)
CB 5 Genta Miura (C) (24)
CB 13 Shunya Suganuma (29)
RWB 8 Kosuke Onose (26)
LWB 34 Yuya Fukuda (20)
DM 7 Yasuhito Endo (39)
CM 15 Yosuke Ideguchi (23)
CM 10 Shu Kurata (30)
CF 33 Takashi Usami (27)
CF 9 Ademilson (25)

Subs: 23 Mizuki Hayashi (GK/23), 30 Naoaki Aoyama (CB/33), 4 Hiroki Fujiharu (LB/LWB/30), 21 Shinya Yajima (DM/CM/25), 14 Markel Susaeta (RW/LW/AM/31), 18 Patric (CF/31), 39 Kazuma Watanabe (CF/33)

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Site Introduction

Picture taken at Gamba vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima J1 game on 10 August 2019

I’m a Gamba Osaka supporter originally from Scotland. Due to work I only attend live games 3-5 times a year, but I enjoy following Gamba and JLeague in general via tv and social media. I’ll try to post as much as I can, but make no promises. All ideas and opinions on this site are my own unless otherwise stated.