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Saturday, October 29, 2011
Tokyo Derby XIV: Sunday 1pm
J2 Matchday 33 Preview
"Don't worry, guys. I'm back."
The second Tokyo Derby of the season takes place at lunchtime tomorrow, and Ajinomoto Stadium is sure to be a sea of red and blue (with a tiny pocket of spewy-green in one corner of the away end), with a crowd of over 30,000 expected to see leaders FC Tokyo 'host' sixth-placed Kawasaki Tokyo Verdy 1969.
As the title suggests, this is the 14th derby since the dirty greens moved from Kawasaki in 2001, and we hold a slight edge overall, having won six and drawn three of the earlier meetings. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the 0-0 in early May, after which we sat in 13th and they were rock bottom, but regardless of where the teams are in the table, the formbook goes out the window in games like these/its a game of two halves/good feet for a big man and other footballing cliches etc.
The two teams enter the game after vastly different results on Wednesday: we were stunned by a last minute Oita winner that saw our Magic Number stay at 10; while The Spews went up to Tochigi and thumped them senseless - their 4-2 win saw them move up a spot to sixth - and they sit eight points behind third-placed Sapporo, with a healthy advantage in goal difference over the three teams above them.
US Players on 3 Yellow Cards: Masato Morishige, Hideto Takahashi, Yohei Kajiyama
The loss against Oita brought back horrible memories of last season, when we continuously failed to break down or finish off teams at home, but probably the biggest concern was the lack of zip in the legs of Tatsuya Yazawa, Hideto Takahashi and others, after four games in 11 days.
The manager's stubborn refusal to rotate fresh players in led to a sluggish performance on Wednesday, and there's only three days respite before this game, although thankfully we'll be able to recall captain Yasuyuki Konno after his one-game suspension that caused him to miss the Oita game. Clearly there won't be any other changes, so we'll have to hope the team can get by on fumes as they'll be running on empty, relying on the occasion to get them up and firing.
The most important players then could be the ones off the bench, and we'll need a lot from Naohiro Ishikawa and especially The Salad, as he hasn't been up to much in his sub appearances since his return from injury.
THEM 6th: W:13 D:9 L:10 GF:61 GA:39 (+22)
Its not quite last chance saloon time for them, as they play Sapporo at Aji Sta next weekend, but a loss here would seriously dent their already faint promotion hopes. They are far and away the league highest scorers, but they've also allowed the most goals of any top half side, so you never know what you're going to get with them but its rarely boring.
Their XI from the win over Tochigi was: Shibasaki; Mori, Tsuchiya, Tomisawa, Nakatani; Apodi, Kobayashi, Takahashi, Kikuoka; Maki, Abe. Several interesting names in there, but we definitely won't be seeing one of them: Yuki Kobayashi is suspended (for tomorrow and next weekend) after picking up his eighth yellow card of the season. Maki is of course Seiichiro, late of Chiba, and he scored his first dirty green goal on his first dirty green start against Tochigi, while the league's second highest scorer, Takuma Abe, netted his 14th & 15th goals of the season on Wednesday.
One player who didn't start at Tochigi but will likely have an important role for them tomorrow is Hiroki Kawano, probably the man of the match in our first meeting, and another is Maranhao, the scorer of eight league goals, and after reading Tokyo Nerdy, apparently the misser of dozens.
You know what I'm going to predict, and however tired the players are I'm banking on them getting up for this big occasion, so I'm doing it with confidence. We have the players to stretch them, and with weapons to come off the bench we should be able to keep pressure on them for the full 90 minutes.
And as good as they've been going forward, they're coming up against the best defence in the league, reinforced by the return of our brilliant captain.
There will be goals in this, and it will finish as a....Home Win.