Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Urawa Preview

So what went wrong? It's hard to imagine Omiya having a much better chance to win away against the top team in J1 than they did in the weekend's game at Gamba Osaka, but it felt as if Jun Suzuki's team just couldn't get it together enough to put the Blue and Blacks under real pressure. Back in July, Ardija lost the home match against the same team by virtue of having a worse defence; on Saturday, in a generally poor-quality encounter, it was a case of the Squirrels being more lacklustre.

 In the closing seconds of an error-strewn first half, Shin Kanazawa sold his defensive colleagues short with a disastrous backpass that enabled Gamba's South Korean striker Lee Keun Ho to steal in for the opener. bearing in mind what had gone before it was appropriate enough for a mistake to have led to a goal, but this was pitiable stuff from Omiya. Rafinha made it 2-0 from close range midway through the second half and after that the result was never in doubt - a frustration given that up until Lee pounced there was nothing much to choose between the teams: they were both awful.

 For the Squirrels, the absence through suspension of central lynchpin Kota Ueda upset the balance of the side, preventing Ardija from taking control of the middle of the pitch. It is hard, for example, to imagine Ueda getting caught out with such sloppy defensive play as Kanazawa, while Naoki Ishihara was forced to retreat towards the halfway line in order to have any influence on the game at all, thus nullifying his threat as a penalty box player. This coupled with some terrible individual performances - step forward Rafael and Daigo Watanabe - gave Gamba the three points.

On Wednesday evening Ardija have a chance to put things right with a Nabisco Cup tie against their underperforming neighbours Urawa Reds, who themselves are fresh from a poor league result in the shape of a home loss to relegation-threatened Montedio Yamagata. The Nabisco Cup can never be that high a priority given Omiya's ongoing struggles in J1, but any competitive match that presents the opportunity for a confidence-boosting win has to be welcomed. It would be especially good to see Ueda come back and show what was missing against Gamba, together with strong and consistent performances from Rodrigo Pimpao and Keigo Higashi. And how about a run-out in defence for forgotten man Shusuke Tsubouchi?



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