Thursday, 3 May 2012

Kobe Preview

Saturday saw Omiya pull off a second consecutive J-League win for the first time since November 2010 and a second consecutive home J-League win for the first time since, almost unbelievably, November 2008. The midweek trip to Vissel Kobe therefore provides a rare opportunity for Ardija to win three games in a row, for what would be the first time since the club arrived in the top division in 2005. So on the verge of what would be an embarrassingly historic achievement, how are the Squirrels placed to perform at Kobe?

In truth Omiya struggled to victory on Saturday against Consadole Sapporo. Carlinhos opened the scoring early on with a header from a Takumi Shimohira left-wing cross, but a neat passing move created the opportunity for Junpei Takagi to equalise for the visitors just before half time. After the break Ardija found it hard to maintain possession in midfield, but although Consadole went close a couple of times their defensive fragility eventually handed the points to the Squirrels. Shimohira's right-sided counterpart Shusuke Tsubouchi pounced on a loose ball and cut it back for Takuya Aoki to score from ten yards.

Ultimately Ardija were lucky to meet a team low on confidence and it's possible that this may also be true of Wednesday's opponents Vissel. After an encouraging start to the season the Hyogo Bulls are in a sticky patch, losing 3-1 to strugglers Yokohama F Marinos at the weekend and subsequently sacking coach Masahiro Wada. The team go into the Omiya game without supposed target Akira Nishino having been appointed as the new boss and missing star forward Yuzo Tashiro through injury. Jun Suzuki, meanwhile, might not have quality, but he does have stability and the chance to field an unchanged team. Three wins in a row? There's actually a chance.



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