Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Yamagata Preview

When the J1 fixtures for 2009 were released three or so months ago, most Squirrels fans will have looked upon Wednesday's game against Montedio Yamagata as a clear opportunity for the team to pick up three points. Montedio were regarded pretty much without exception as being favourites to go straight back down to J2 after having achieved something of a shock promotion last year. The reality is that it is Yamagata who will probably have greater reason to believe that they can win the match after their extraordinary start to the season.

Currently in fifth place, the Mountain Gods achieved a creditable draw with reigning champions Kashima Antlers at the weekend, despite conceding what many would argue was a distinctly unfortunate penalty converted by last season's player of the year Marquinhos. It was Yu Hasegawa who got Montedio back on level terms with a towering header early in the second half and although the Antlers unsurprisingly had the bulk of the play, nevertheless Shinji Kobayashi's Yamagata team somehow seem able to put off the start of what is still frequently regarded as an inevitable slide down the standings.

Which is what Ardija have themselves embarked upon as the result of two disappointing defeats in their last two matches. The Squirrels' second half destruction by Kawasaki Frontale was followed on Saturday by a further loss brought about by a spectacular late strike by Albirex Niigata's Marcio Richardes, as the coming to an end of the last unbeaten record in J1 was underlined with some vigour. But thanks to the busy fixture list, Jang Wae Ryong has an early opportunity to put things right as he seeks to address the first mini-crisis of his time in charge at Omiya.

Following his dismissal against Niigata, Shin Kanazawa will presumably be absent from the middle of midfield and the ominous prospect of a first-team run-out for Yosuke Kataoka therefore raises its head. But the Squirrels need to ensure that they are able to cope with the physical challenge of an imposing opponent, while the supporters, mindful of the rapidity with which the team's positive start to 2009 is fading from view, are calling for pace, aggression, movement - and goals. Go Ardija!



Furtho 28 April 2009 at 20:07  

The Yahoo line-up:

GK Ezumi
DF Hato
DF Tomita
DF Neretljak
DF Park
MF Fujimoto
MF Kobayashi Y
MF Arai
MF Hashimoto
FW Ishihara
FW Denis Marques

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