Friday, 29 April 2011

Kobe Preview

Just a quick preview for tomorrow's Golden Week holiday Friday J1 match at Vissel Kobe. The Squirrels put in a patchy performance in their J-League restart game at home to Kashiwa Reysol at the weekend, impressing in the first half without scoring and then fading after the interval. For the only goal, Reysol's new Brazilian midfielder Leandro Dominguez was perhaps a little lucky to be in position to capitalise on Takashi Kitano palming away a deflected shot, but he finished well enough. Ardija for their part will point to the penalty that never was, when Lee Chun Soo's legs clearly seemed to have been swept from under him but no spot kick was forthcoming.

Kobe meanwhile picked up a 1-1 draw in the rain at promoted Ventforet Kofu, taking the lead from a bouncing Yoshito Okubo shot but then conceding from a corner a well-taken volley by Daniel - the centre back partner of ex-Squirrel Daisuke Tomita. The team who so narrowly avoided relegation last season did little over the winter to strengthen their squad, little midfielder Rogerinho being the only new signing to have started against Kofu. But an opening day defeat of Urawa Reds sees Kobe three points better off than Omiya, who will have to shrug off the disappointment of losing to Kashiwa as they head into a busy period of three fixtures in nine days.

Ardija coach Jun Suzuki, having by all accounts toyed with a range of formations in training, seems in the end to have reverted to a 4-4-2 and it was a pleasant surprise indeed to see a young Omiya midfield quartet of Daisuke Watabe, Kota Ueda, Takuya Aoki and Keigo Higashi start against the Sun Kings. They may take some time to gel, especially with newcomer Ueda as the playmaker in the middle, but this is a group who have the potential to be at the heart of an Ardija side for a long time to come. A confident performance at Kobe, especially with a more dynamic contribution from key forward Rafael, would go a long way towards setting 2011 off on the right track.



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