Saturday, 18 June 2011

With Trepidation, Nagoya Preview

I am really not looking forward to this. Fresh from their midweek 5-0 hammering at home by Kawasaki Frontale, Omiya go to reigning J1 champions Nagoya Grampus tomorrow desperately short on confidence - and short on players, too, as Kim Young Gwon has subsequently headed off on international duty. Keigo Higashi, already off training with Japan U22s, must be thinking that he's better off out of it. The GGOA preview indicated that the Frontale match would be won or lost in the centre of the pitch and in Higashi's absence that did indeed turn out to be the case.

An inability to control possession against Kawasaki meant that the front players rarely had an opportunity to get involved in the play and the defence were permanently under pressure. And following a performance like that, looking at the squad available to Jun Suzuki it is hard to see how the introduction of players like Arata Sugiyama or Agent Orange's favourite Yosuke Kataoka might change things for the better. But change is what is required if Omiya are not to slip back down the standings and spend the rest of the season fighting relegation. Yep, as usual.

Grampus had a slow start but are now hitting form - hitting goals, too. While Omiya have conceded eleven in the last three matches, Nagoya have scored ten in the same period. Of particular note is how strongly Dragan Stojkovic's team is able to finish games, notching six in the final ten minutes of those three fixtures to accelerate away from Avispa Fukuoka, squeeze past Jubilo Iwata and hammer nails into the coffin of Albirex Niigata. So even if tomorrow turns out to be one of those games in which the stronger team is unable to break the deadlock, just when it looks like the minnow will get away with a draw Keiji Tamada will hit one in with his hand in 89th minute and that'll be that. Like I say, I'm really not looking forward to it.

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