On the back of two defeats to open the season, Gifu welcome newly (and ridiculously) named Thespakusatsu Gunma to the Nagaragawa on Sunday evening.

Gifu were thumped 4-0 by Vissel Kobe last time out and will be looking to get their first points of 2013 on the board. Against Vissel they started with Nogaito and Oizumi on the left side in order to give more protection to the defence. Ultimately it din’t work out that way but it will be interesting to see if Gyotoku keeps faith with 5 defenders, or if he will try to attack a bit more. The key for Gifu is to get support to Inoue (or whoever starts in attack) because too often the ball gets up top, but comes straight back because the forward is outnumbered. There are no new injury concerns, and Brazilian strikers Fabio & Lemos got some game time in a practice match against Osaka Gakuin Uni on Monday so they might be in contention to play. This game, and the following week where they play Ehime FC and Tokushima Vortis, will give a good indication as to where Gifu stand this season.

Gunma have drawn both of their games so far: a 1-1 draw in Mito followed up with 0-0 draw at home to Gainare Tottori – a game that was made almost impossible due to the incredibly strong winds. Ex-JEF United striker Kota Aoki has been brought in to score goals, while ex-Bellmare & Montedio Yamagata midfielder Ryota Nagata has also been acquired. New Brazilian striker Eder is battling to be fit after injuring his shoulder. Thespa have only won one of their last nine J2 matches stretching back to last season (compared with Gifu who are winless in their last nine, and have lost six of their last seven).

Last season:

Gifu and Thespa Kusatsu (as they were then) drew 0-0 in Gifu and 1-1 in Kusatsu. Jinushizono scored late on to give Gifu the lead, but Kusatsu equalized deep into stoppage time.

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