A real test early in the season awaits table topping (amazing to hear that!) FC Gifu when they head to Tohoku to face Montedio Yamagata.
Confidence couldn’t be much higher around Gifu now, and I expect them to keep faith with the team that excelled against Kataller Toyama last week. That being said, it wouldn’t be a massive surprise to see another defensive minded player come in, because a midfield that contains Takachi, Stipe & Mizuno is quite attacking. Mizuno has played well in his “Volante” role so far so we’ll see how he does. Alex Santos should be fine despite being stretchered off last week.
Montedio have had a tough start, facing two of the more fancied sides in the division away from home. They narrowly lost to Shonan Bellmare on the opening day, but claimed a very creditable draw in Sapporo last time out, new signing Diego grabbing their equalizer. They boast a variety of attacking options with Yuki Nakashima, Hiroki Bandai & Diego all capable of good attacking play. They lost Taisuke Nakamura, their flying attacking full-back from last year, to JEF United and brought in Takefumi Toma to replace him. What they’ll miss attacking-wise from Nakamura they will gain in solidity with Toma.
How both teams deal with others’ attacking midfielders will be key to how this plays out. Diego, if given time, is a very good player, as is Yuki Nakashima. But they aren’t the best at tracking back, so if Gifu can apply pressure to them they have a chance to turn Yamagata around quickly and get Takachi, Stipe, Namba & Nazarit involved quickly and in space.
I expect this to be an entertaining game, one I hope Gifu end on the right side of.
Football Lab predicted line-ups:
- Montedio: Shimizu, Yamada, Toma, Lee, Funatsu, Romero Franck, Miyasaka, Diego, Nakashima, Ito, Bandai
- Gifu: Kawaguchi, Sugiyama, Alex, Kitani, Abe, Miyazawa, Mizuno, Takachi, Stipe, Namba, Nazarit
- Game: Montedio Yamagata v FC Gifu
- Venue: ND Soft Stadium, Tendo city, Yamagata prefecture. KO: 1pm
- Broadcast: Live on BS Skapa ch.241