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Friday, April 29, 2011

FC Tokyo v Sapporo: Preview

 J2 Matchday 3

While the 3-0 loss to Chiba last Sunday was difficult to take, on the run of play the scoreline was harsh on us, and we have the perfect opportunity to bounce back tomorrow at home to Sapporo. Eight weeks have passed since the first home game, and while crowds were down across the board all over the J.League last weekend, I expect the Tokyo faithful will be out in droves, making Tokyo Bairn's job of picking first in Guess the Crowd quite tough.

You know my feelings about Yuhei Tokunaga in midfield...I've not seen El Golazo today so I have no idea if he will start there again (although I have a horrible feeling he probably will), but when I publish a formation in previews its the team I WANT us to start with, as you can't legislate for stubborn managers who persist with using players out of position.

football formationsIn this game, and not just for sentimental reasons, I think its obvious that Kazumasa Uesato should start in the holding role alongside Casual, with Tokunaga sliding back to his natural position, right back. Its harsh on Kenta Mukuhara, who had a strong game against Chiba, and some might argue that Muk offers a lot more going forward than Tok and would be a better all-round option given a straight choice between the two, but it appears that Tok is 'un-droppable'.

Anyway, I'm wasting far too much energy blabbing on about Tokunaga, lets move on to Roberto Cesar! The Salad's second half display at Chiba was good, he looks a very dangerous player with the ball at his feet, and again, because this is the XI I want, he should start alongside Daiki Takamatsu.

The two forwards starting means I think we should revert to 4-4-2, with The Salad replacing Takuji Yonemoto from the XI last Sunday. Pedro Junior should at least make the bench tomorrow, and will hopefully be ready to put pressure on Tatsuya Suzuki's starting place come The Derby on Wednesday.

It doesn't appear Roberto or Naohiro Ishikawa are quite ready to be part of the squad, so the bench might just be: Shiota, North, Hanyu, Hokuto, Otake, Pedro Junior, Tanabe.

After finishing in the J1 cellar in 2008, having won J2 the previous year, most J.League supporters probably expected them to bounce straight back up in '09, but they were never in the promotion hunt and ended-up 6th. Last season they got off to a dreadful start and never really recovered, finishing 13th.

近藤 祐介Most Tokyo fans will be looking forward to seeing The Fat Man, Yusuke Kondo, make his Aji Sta return, and he certainly hasn't been laying off the pies since moving up north as his photo from their club website shows.

On a more serious note, Sapporo have also got off to a shaky start to this campaign, losing 2-0 at Ehime way back on the opening day of the season, and then 1-0 at Sapporo Dome to Shonan last Saturday. They brought in three Brazilians in the off-season, and the attacking member of that trio, Andrezinho, started at the Dome having missed most of the pre-season and the first game due to injury. The holding midfielder, Bruno, came off the bench in the last 10 minutes, but Tiago, the defender, didn't get on the pitch.

Holding Shonan, who were of course rampant 5-0 winners over Okayama in the first game of the season, to a single goal looks a decent effort on paper, but it may have been a case of Shonan's poor finishing rather than solid Sapporo defence, as the visitors outshot the red and blacks 16-8. The Sapporo XI at kickoff was: Lee; Takaki, Yamashita, Kawai, Iwanuma; Miyazawa, Haga, Furuta, Andre 3000 (sorry, Andrezinho), The Fat Man; Mikami (who Dan mentioned on Gas Talk Episode 4 - their 18 year old prodigy).

So its three games in eight days for the Gasmen starting tomorrow, with The Derby on Wednesday and then the visit of Toyama on Sunday week. I expect Sapporo will set up quite defensively, but our forwards and wingers should be able to get at them, and if we score first they should open up and give us more space to play.

First and foremost, it will be great to have football back at Aji Sta tomorrow!
And so, to my prediction....HOME WIN.

You'll Never Walk Alone


  1. Bobby Mann Ate My LegApril 30, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Feckin' Tokunaga! Thanks for the posts and the Pocast - have downloaded & will give it a listen on the way to the match.

    (Mutters to self) "Konda will not score today... Konda will not score today..."

  2. Cheers Bobby,
    Yeah, if The Fat scores today we might well just shut the whole thing down!
    Enjoy the pod, and Come on You Gasmen!

    Ben (posting from the train)