Saturday, 14 August 2010

Jubilo Preview

If there's one team that the Squirrels can most closely be compared to throughout their time in J1, it's probably Sunday's opponents Jubilo Iwata. Despite their contrasting histories prior to 2005, both seem to have spent the large majority of the past five and a half years struggling against relegation - or, to put it more kindly, battling to join the group of more stable, mid-ranking sides. And that means that matches between Ardija and Jubilo often turn out to be important, with results going both ways depending in the main on which team happened to have the in-form striker at the time.

Certainly, the likes of Lee Keun Ho and Ryoichi Maeda have caused Omiya some damage in their time, an outstanding Lee netting twice as the Shizuoka Sky Blues won 3-1 in May last year. Maeda's most recent goal against the Squirrels was earlier this season, cancelling out Naoki Ishihara's opener in a 1-1 draw. But when the two teams played each other in the summer of 2009, coming on as a half-time substitute in what was his Omiya debut Rafael made a stunning first impression, a spectacular overhead kick from the toothy Brazilian causing panic in the Jubilo defence and an own goal.

So it's no surprise that tomorrow's game is another important one: Ardija and Iwata are in a familiar enough position, level on points immediately above the relegation zone and knowing that a win would be a major boost in the fight against the drop... sorry, in the climb up the table. Recent form favours Jun Suzuki's Omiya, who are now looking at what would be a historic first-ever three consecutive J1 victories, the Squirrels' squad moreover having been strengthened in midweek by the arrival of defensive midfielder Lee Ho and winger-cum-striker Lee Chun Soo.

Ho has indicated that he is not at match fitness and hence is unlikely to see first team action for some time. Chun Soo, on the other hand, has been training with Ardija for six weeks or so and it would be no surprise if he were to make an appearance tomorrow. How he might fit into the team is an interesting matter, given that coach Suzuki has over the last few games started with top scorer Ishihara on the bench, the wide midfield roles being split between Masahiko Ichikawa, Norio Suzuki, Chikara Fujimoto and Hayato Hashimoto. The tactic seems to be to make the team stronger as the game goes on through planned use of substitutions. Certainly, it's how Omiya finish against Jubilo that's what matters.



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