Categories
sport Uncategorized

Gamba Osaka vs Urawa Red Diamonds Match Preview

Urawa Red Diamonds (13th) vs Gamba Osaka (9th)
2019 Meiji Yasuda J1 League Round 34
7 December 2019 at 14:00 JST
Saitama Stadium 2002


J1 draws to a close for 2019 this Saturday as fierce rivals Gamba Osaka and Urawa Red Diamonds go head to head in an attempt by both clubs to finish off extremely disappointing league campaigns with a win. Gamba could end up anywhere from 7th to 10th in the final standings depending on the result of this and other matches while 2019 Asian Champions League runners-up Urawa are only safe from the promotion/relegation place by virtue of the fact that 2 teams lower than them, Shimizu and Tosu, play each other in the final round of fixtures so cannot both overhaul their total of 37 points.

Gamba come into this encounter in much better domestic form than their opponents with last Saturday’s rout of now relegated Matsumoto Yamaga their 5th win in the last 8 league games. However, their away form has been more patchy with only 4 wins and 17 points coming from 16 matches to date, the 6th worst record in J1. Urawa held title-chasing FC Tokyo to a 1-1 draw at Ajinomoto Stadium in their previous game, but that was their 5th league match in a row without a win, their last 3 points coming on October 10th with a 2-1 victory over Shimizu S-Pulse in Saitama. Since then they’ve been defeated at home 1-0 by Oita and 2-0 by Kawasaki and in total they’ve only managed to take the 3 points on 4 occasions at Saitama Stadium 2002 this season, the 3rd worst record in the league, ahead of only already relegated Iwata and Matsumoto. Goalscoring has also been an issue all season, they’ve found the back of the net on just 32 occasions in 33 games so far, again this tally is only worsened by Iwata (28 goals) and Matsumoto (20). Top scorer Shinzo Koroki has struck 12 times in 31 J1 appearances this year (37.5% of their goals).

Urawa won the reverse fixture between the two back in April with Ewerton’s late drive enough to separate the sides in a rather dull clash which saw Hiroki Fujiharu go off injured following an accidental collision with Reds defender Ryota Moriwaki. It was also Gamba’s 5th defeat in their opening 7 games of 2019 and one of the last occasions on which they used the 4-4-2 formation. Last year, a rampant Gamba saw off Reds at Saitama Stadium 2002 though wonder-strikes from Kosukue Onose and Hwang Ui-jo either side of a Shinzo Koroki equaliser before Ademilson sealed the 3-1 win in the 69th minute, the 7th of Gamba’s epic 9 game winning streak. Last season’s encounter at Panasonic Stadium Suita was again a tepid affair, ending up 0-0. The previous 5 Urawa vs Gamba clashes in Saitama are even with 2 wins apiece (Urawa 2015, 2016), Gamba (2014, 2018) and 1 draw (2017). The most memorable of those from a Gamba perspective would definitely be the 2-0 victory in round 32 of the 2014 season as late strikes from Akihiro Sato and Patric saw the men in blue and black overtake their title rivals in the race for the J1 crown which of course they went onto lift following a 3-1 home victory over Kobe and a nervy 0-0 draw away to Tokushima. Victory for Urawa in this year’s match would see them become only the second team, after Yokohama F.Marinos, to defeat Gamba both home and away. Gamba in turn have taken 6 points from each of Matsumoto, Shonan and Shimizu.

Being the final fixture of a long and arduous season could be a factor in this game, especially for Urawa who, in goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa, have the J1 player with the most club appearances in total in 2019 (50 – 32 J1, 13 ACL, 2 Emperor’s Cup, 2 Jleague Cup and 1 Japanese Super Cup), his team-mates Tomoaki Makino and Shinzo Koroki (both 48 games) as well as attacking-midfielder Kazuki Nagasawa (43) and centre-back, Takuya Iwanami (40) are all in desperate need of a well-earned rest this winter. By contrast, Gamba top-scorer and assist provider Ademilson has played the most games for the club in 2019 (42 in all competitions – though only 32 have been starts), Masaaki Higashiguchi (41) and Genta Miura (40) are just behind. Interestingly, assuming midfield maestro Yasuhito takes the field just one month shy of his 40th birthday, it will be his 28th J1 game of the season (34th in all competitions), but will mark the first time since 2008 that he’s played less than 30 league games in one calendar year, an incredible feat of staying power.

Team News:
Gamba only have Takashi Usami as a doubt with a head knock but his prognosis is good so they are likely to see out the season with the same starting members as in the victories at home to Sendai and Matsumoto. My prediction of Shu Kurata coming into the line-up at the expense of either Endo or Yajima last week didn’t come to fruition but it remains an option for Director Tsuneyasu Miyamoto. This type of derby match doesn’t really lend itself to sentiment, but I guess depending on the match situation, it’s possible we may be able to get an insight into the future of certain players such as Patric (rumoured to be staying permanently) or Kazuma Watanabe who may be playing their last game for the club this weekend. Ademilson (rumoured to be signing a new contract despite interest from Urawa) scored his 9th goal and got his 7th assist of 2019 against Matsumoto and should he find the back of the net in this game, it’d be the first time he has reached double figures in J1 with this being his 5th season playing in Japanese football.

Urawa play in a 3-4-2-1 formation, although they have rotated their personnel quite heavily this year as a result of their extended Champions League participation and more recently due to poor league performances, this makes predicting their starting line-up a thankless task, but I’ll do my best. Former Japanese international Shusaku Nishikawa will be between the sticks for his 51st club appearance of the season. The back three will almost definitely have Nishikawa’s former Hiroshima team-mate, Tomoaki Makino in there and he’ll likely be flanked by last winter’s recruit from Kashiwa Reysol, Daisuke Suzuki and 25 year-old former Kobe centre-back, Takuya Iwanami. Other options include, the Brazilian Mauricio, who was imperious in the 1-0 win in Suita in April or Ryota Moriwaki, another member of the Sanfrecce old-boys network, who actually played at right wing-back against FC Tokyo and will leave Reds after 7 years with the club this off-season. 182 cm tall Daiki Hashioka plays right wing-back more regularly and may come in again for this clash, he was the focal point for Urawa’s tactic of playing long, high balls out to the wing with the aim of getting flick ons to the attackers in Osaka earlier this year, a strategy that brought no success at all, I wonder if it’ll be used this time round. The left wing-back slot is one of the most hotly contested in the Reds squad, last week it was filled by Ryohei Yamanaka, another Japanese international, who joined from Yokohama F.Marinos last winter, he is also the team’s top assist provider in J1 this year (with 4, it was also his long range drive which was only parried by FC Tokyo ‘keeper Akihiro Hayashi into the path of Martinus for the opening goal last week), Takahiro Sekine, who returned to Saitama from an unsuccessful spell in Germany this summer, has played there more frequently in recent games and veteran Tomoya Ugajin, a one-club man who’s been with Reds since 2009 is another option. Both Sekine and Ugajin are capable of playing down the right if required.

Going forward, the central midfield berths are likely to be occupied by on-loan Brazilian, Ewerton, scorer of the winner in Suita and former Omiya holding midfielder, Takuya Aoki with vastly experienced ex-Leicester City star, Yuki Abe likely to provide back up from the bench. Club legend and scorer of at least 10 goals in the previous 7 J1 campaigns, Shinzo Koroki will lead the attack and against FC Tokyo he was supported by club captain and another of the ex-Sanfrecce brigade, Yosuke Kashiwagi, who has missed large chunks of this year through injury and former Marinos man Martinus, the man who put Reds ahead last week but who has largely failed to reproduce the form of his Yokohama days where he gave Gamba several torrid afternoons. Again there are many options in these areas; Kazuki Nagasawa has played 29 J1 games this year (3 goals, 2 assists), there is also Yuki Muto, whose partnership with Koroki has proven so fruitful over the years, but, his return of 1 goal and 3 assists in 23 J1 games this campaign is basically a metaphor for Urawa’s entire season. Another Brazilian, Fabricio missed the first half of the year through injury and has never really regained his 2018 form since returning, while things just haven’t happened all season for 187cm target man and former Cerezo player Kenyu Sugimoto.

Prediction:
A really tough one to predict as neither side has much other than pride to play for in this one. Urawa’s poor home form and inability to score versus Gamba’s wastefulness in front of goal and aversion to winning on the road, which side will prevail? I had this game nailed down from a few weeks back as one in which only one side would have anything riding on it and naturally we could expect that side to pick up the points, but results have conspired to leave this essentially as meaningless a match as any between these two great rivals could be. I was leaning towards a 1-0 Reds win until I did the maths and worked out that there was no chance of them going down, so now I’m going to say it’ll be a rather tame 0-0 draw, similar in fashion to the final match of Kenta Hasegawa’s reign in 2017 when FC Tokyo vs Gamba finished scoreless.

Predicted Gamba Line-up:
GK 1 Masaaki Higashiguchi (33 years old/33 J1 apps / 0 goals / 1 assist)
CB 13 Shunya Suganuma (29/14/0/1)
CB 5 Genta Miura (C) (24/30/1/0)
CB 19 Kim Young-gwon (29/31/1/1)
RWB 8 Kosuke Onose (26/29/7/4)
LWB 4 Hiroki Fujiharu (31/16/2/3)
DM 21 Shinya Yajima (25/26/1/4)
CM 15 Yosuke Ideguchi (23/12/2/0)
CM 8 Shu Kurata (31/30/7/1)
CF 33 Ademilson (25/31/9/7)
CF 33 Takashi Usami (27/13/6/1)

Subs: 23 Mizuki Hayashi (GK/23/0/0/0), 27 Ryu Takao (CB/RWB/23/18/0/0), 34 Yuya Fukuda (RWB/LWB/20/16/0/0) 7 Yasuhito Endo (CM/39/27/1/5), 14 Markel Susaeta (RW/LW/AM/31/5/0/0), 18 Patric (CF/31/11/2/1), 39 Kazuma Watanabe (CF/33/18/3/0)

Categories
sport Uncategorized

Vegalta Sendai Match Preview

Gamba Osaka (9th) vs Vegalta Sendai (11th)
2019 Meiji Yasuda J1 League Round 32

23 November 2019 at 15:00 JST
Panasonic Stadium Suita


J1 returns after the final international break of the season with a clash between Gamba Osaka and Vegalta Sendai, two teams locked on 38 points in mid-table. Gamba currently lie 2 places above Sendai due to a superior goal difference and have accumulated their points total through 9 wins and 11 draws whereas Sendai have won 11 times and drawn 5. With only 3 rounds of games left, both teams will feel like their J1 status is almost secure for next season and any points taken from this game should guarantee safety. After this match, Gamba play Matsumoto Yamaga at home the following week and then AFC Champions League finalists Urawa Red Diamonds in the final round. Vegalta, on the other hand, face tricky fixtures, at home to Oita Trinita in round 33, before finishing away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima on December 7th.

Vegalta come to Osaka on Saturday with the worst away record in the league this year, just 3 wins and 1 draw from 15 matches, however, they have won 2 of their last 3 games on the road, overcoming struggling Nagoya Grampus 2-0 as well as a surprisingly comfortable 3-1 win at Sapporo back in September. Gamba haven’t been defeated in the league at Panasonic Stadium Suita since Urawa left with all 3 points back on April 14th and have won 5 and drawn 6 of their following 11 home fixtures.

Sendai won the reverse encounter between the sides on April 28th, as goals in injury time at the end of the first and second half by Katsuya Nagato and former Gamba man Shun Nagasawa respectively saw them overturn Kim Young-gwon’s early effort. This was an identical outcome to the match played between the two in 2018 when Kazuma Watanabe fired Gamba ahead only for two second half goals to swing things in the direction of the home side. This is a lesson that doesn’t seem to have been learned from by Gamba this year as they’ve only converted half-time leads into victories on two occasions (out of 6 attempts) and indeed when they’ve trailed at the break in 2019 they’re yet to come back to gain all 3 points (2 draws and 7 defeats).

Golden Week 2018 was the last time these two sides played a league match in Osaka with Levir Culpi’s struggling outfit earning a 1-0 victory over a Sendai team which on paper looked much stronger than this year’s crop, featuring as it did the likes of Ko Itakura, Hiroaki Okuno, Gakuto Notsuda and Takuma Nishimura, all now departed. Shu Kurata’s 62nd minute finish was all that separated them and although the talismanic Gamba number 10 is unlikely to take any part in this game due to a cheekbone fracture, the men in blue and black will be looking for a similar outcome against a Sendai side which has definitely punched above it’s weight this season following the departures of the aforementioned players.

Team News:
Gamba had Kim Young-gwon, Genta Miura and Yosuke Ideguchi away on international duty, but welcome all three back into a squad which is now only missing Shu Kurata through injury. Miyamoto usually likes to make a couple of small changes following a defeat, so I feel we could see the return of Yuya Fukuda down the left side in place of Hiroki Fujiharu. Other options for small tweaks could be bringing Ryu Takao back in for Shunya Suganuma at centre-back or perhaps changing the dynamic up-front with Kazuma Watanabe or Patric coming in to partner Takashi Usami and thus providing a big target for crosses or long balls.

Most of Sendai’s best performances in recent weeks have come with them operating the 4-4-2 system, although they have used 3-4-2-1 quite extensively in the recent past. I’m working on the basis that they’ll go 4-4-2 for this one. Polish ‘keeper Jakub Slowik, who joined the club as a mid-season replacement for the now departed Japanese international Daniel Schmidt will be between the sticks. Veteran centre-back Yasuhiro Hiraoka, who will make his 300th J1 appearance in this match, is likely to be partnered by versatile Mozambique international Simao Mate with Koji Hachisuka at right-back and assist-king Katsuya Nagato (9 assists, 2 goals in 27 J1 games in 2019) on the left. Club legend Shingo Tomita will anchor the midfield alongside Yoshiki Matsushita, an acquisition from Vissel Kobe last winter. Another winter 2018-19 signing, Ryohei Michibuchi (Ventforet Kofu) usually plays on the right-wing and in-form ex-Urawa and Cerezo winger Kunimutsu Sekiguchi is enjoying an Indian Summer in his career down the left (4 goals and 1 assist in 20 J1 games). Up front, 192cm former Gamba star Shun Nagasawa will likely be partnered by wily Brazilian Ramon Lopes, both forwards have found the net 6 times in the league this year and are currently Sendai’s top scorers. As noted earlier Simao Mate is able to play in more than one position, if he moves into central-midfield it could open the door for another former Gamba player, Kim Jung-ya, to come into their defence. Powerful forward Ryo Germain, ex-FC Tokyo attacker Takuma Abe and the vastly experienced Naoki Ishihara are likely to provide attacking re-inforcement from the bench.

Prediction:
Gamba haven’t lost at home in the league for 7 months and Vegalta are owners of the worst away record this season, but J1 is rarely that predictable. A draw for both teams would most probably make them mathematically safe from relegation, so I believe we will see a tight, tactical scuffle that Gamba will ultimately edge through a Takashi Usami strike which will take him to within one goal of Ademilson and Kurata at the top of the Gamba goalscoring charts.

As an aside, because of Labour Thanksgiving Day, this will be my 4th home game of the season. The results of the previous three are; 0-1 vs Urawa (Gamba’s last home league defeat), and 1-1 against Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Jubilo Iwata at either end of the Obon vacation. Goals scored by the opposition are Ewerton (Urawa) 87’, Leandro Pereira (Hiroshima) 90+2’ and Masato Nakayama (Iwata) 90+5’….so I guess what we can take from this is never give up Sendai….a 97th minute equaliser this time, anyone?

Predicted Gamba Line-up:
GK 1 Masaaki Higashiguchi (33 years old)
CB 13 Shunya Suganuma (29)
CB 5 Genta Miura (C) (24)
CB 19 Kim Young-gwon (29)
RWB 8 Kosuke Onose (26)
LWB 34 Yuya Fukuda (20)
DM 7 Yasuhito Endo (39)
CM 15 Yosuke Ideguchi (23)
CM 21 Shinya Yajima (25)
CF 33 Ademilson (25)
CF 33 Takashi Usami (27)

Subs: 23 Mizuki Hayashi (GK/23), 27 Ryu Takao (CB/RWB/23), 4 Hiroki Fujiharu (LWB/30), 11 David Concha (RW/LW/AM/23), 14 Markel Susaeta (RW/LW/AM/31), 18 Patric (CF/31), 39 Kazuma Watanabe (CF/33)

Categories
sport

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.

Categories
sport

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)

Categories
Uncategorized

Weekend round-up

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′

Categories
Uncategorized

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

Categories
Uncategorized

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)