* Not actually a shop

Friday, August 26, 2011

Toyama v FC Tokyo: Sunday 6pm

J2 Matchday 22 Preview

After suffering through a disappointing loss at Tochigi last Sunday, our fourth defeat of the season, FC Tokyo are on the road again this weekend visiting Toyama, a game that will conclude our run of four-of-five away. The good news is that following this we'll play four-of-five at home in September (well, three of five as one of them is at NEUTRAL Kumagaya - no, I'm not going to stop going on about it) as we conclude the season with nine of sixteen at 'home' (two at Kokuritsu, one at Kumagaya).

As you all know we out-shot Tochigi 22-8 last weekend, but stats like that mean jacks##t if we're going to give away goals, as the unfortunate Hideto Takahashi was culpable of early in the game, and if the opposition goalkeeper is standing on his head for the entire game, to borrow an ice hockey term. Hiroyuki Takeda was named man of the match by Weekly Soccer Magazine, and kept us at bay until Tatsuya Suzuki's too-little-too-late goal deep into stoppage time.

After keeping the same XI for ten straight games, Big Bear was forced into a change for Tochigi when The Salad pulled up lame after training the day before the game, with the club since reporting it'll be a three week recovery time for our main striker. There'll definitely be another change for this one, too, with Tatsuya Yazawa becoming the first of our players to be suspended for accruing four yellow cards this season (unfortunate for all of you who had bets on Masato Morishige doing it first).

We'd all expected (and hoped) it'd be Naohiro Ishikawa taking Yazawa's spot in the XI (and hopefully never giving it back), but that was thrown into doubt when Nao wasn't involved in yesterday's 3-2 friendly win over Tokyo Gakugei University (1 x 45 mins then 2 x 35). Tatsuya Suzuki started with the first team, making him the odds-on favourite to take Yaza's role on the flank, but Genki Nagasato could be a flier for the job after he bagged a brace in the second period.

We should see Daisuke Sakata come on for his debut (why on earth did Uesato come on instead of him with 5 mins to go last Sunday?), while Nagasato will at the very least have to come into the 18 after yesterday's performance, especially as there now appears to be huge doubt over Nao's availability, and considering that neither of the backup centre-halves have been in the squad for the past three games.

On those defenders though, either Jade North or Tomokazu Nagira will be needed next weekend for the return match with Tochigi, as Yasuyuki Konno will be away with the national team for World Cup Qualifiers, unless Big Bear goes with Yuhei Tokunaga in the centre and brings Kenta Mukuhara in at right back. Obviously I'm a little biased and hope North gets the call. OK then, my stab at our squad: XI - Shiota; Tokunaga, Morishige, Konno, Hokuto; Ishikawa (I hope, but probably Tatsuya here), Takahashi, Casual, Tanabe; Hanyu; Lucas, Bench - Gonda, Mukuhara, Uesato, Shimoda, Nagasato, Tatsuya (If Nao misses out...North?), Sakata.

Toyama visited Aji Sta way back in early May, when we were unconvincing but took all three points thanks to sobby substitute Naotake Hanyu's winner with ten minutes to go. Much was made in the build-up to that game of their '3-3-3-1' formation, but in recent weeks it appears to have morphed into 3-6-1 - basically the same but we'll know to expect at least a bank of three deep-lying midfielders attempting to shield their back three.

Last Sunday they travelled to Chiba for a clash of 3rd v 19th and returned with huge credit, and a point, thanks to a hard-fought 0-0 draw against the promotion-chasing canary yellows. They'll be forced into an important change this week, but their XI at Chiba was: (3-6-1) Iida; Asuke, Fukuda, Ikehata; Hiraide, Funatsu, Nishino, Onishi, Asahi, Seo; Kurobe.

That important change is, of course, Ryo Hiraide, our centre half who has played every game bar one (the one at Aji Sta) for them in a holding midfield role, but who is unable to take part here on the terms of his loan. Just for old times sake I'm gunna stick in his photo because its an absolute belter - why does he bother pruning his eyebrows when he looks like that?!

Anyway, all jokes aside, the one to watch out for here is clearly their frontman Teruaki Kurobe, their leading scorer with six goals this season, while the little South Korean Seo Yong Duk, who never got a chance with us last season when on loan from Omiya, has established himself as a regular, though his season has been derailed at times by injury.

Despite being without The Salad and Yazawa, we have the depth to cover them with Lucas and Ishikawa/Tatsuya, so the main thing for us to focus on here will be countering their defensive formation, spreading the ball to the flanks and encouraging the fullbacks to overlap.

In a strange way, The Salad not being around may actually benefit us, as I'd like to see Lucas set up closer to goal, and if we are able to get the ball out to the wings and get some decent crosses in, the big man may be able to get his head on one. By my calculations we've only scored one headed goal from open play so far this season (Hanyu against Kumamoto), so we're overdue some more, and as you'd imagine space will be at a premium here Lucas may be the man to get our second.

They'll be tough to break down, and we'll have to be on guard to their threat on the counter, but this is 1st v 19th, and it'll be up to us to show the gulf in class between the sides.
I can't predict anything but.....Away Win.

No comments:

Post a Comment