FC Gifu head to the land of Sapporo Beer, cool summers, delicious desserts, sensational seafood and rip-roaring ramen to face Consadole Sapporo in a Saturday afternoon kick-off.

For Gifu, they have a relatively clean bill of health with the only question mark coming against Alessandro Santos who came off last week due to fatigue. Keisuke Ota played well, but so did Taisuke Mizuno when he came on in place of Atsushi Mio.

My predicted FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Masuyama, Abe, Kitani, Santos, Miyazawa, Henik, Mizuno, Takachi, Ota, Nazarit

The important thing in this formation is that Ota & Takachi must get up and help the lone striker. Namba could play instead of Ota, as could Stipe Plazibat. Either of those would be bold moves, but moves that would be perfectly understandable and would give Gifu an even sharper cutting edge.

For the home side, giant Brazilian defender Paulon is suspended for this game after picking up his fourth booking of the season against Kataller Toyama last week. Consa usually play a 4-2-3-1 (or, at least they have when I’ve seen them this year) which leaves space for only one of their star strikers. Last week it was Ken Tokura who started instead of Yoshihiro Uchimura. Since coming back from a hamstring injury sustained in April, Uchimura has mostly been used from the bench, while Tokura has started the past two games.

One man not to lose focus on is the ever Makoto Sunakawa. Now 36, Sunakawa has amassed over 300 appearances for Sapporo, and has maintained a high level of play this year, contributing 3 goals and 3 assists to their cause. He is usually to be found playing off the front, either on the left or right, and has a mean delivery on him.

Form guide – last 5 games (most recent first):

  • FC Gifu: DLLWD
  • Consadole Sapporo: WDLDW

Top goalscorers:

  • FC Gifu: Nazarit, Hiroaki Namba – 7 goals
  • Consadole Sapporo: Shunsuke Maeda, Yoshihiro Uchimura, Makoto Sunakawa – 3 goals

Previous meetings in Sapporo:

  • 2009: Consadole Sapporo 3-0 FC Gifu
  • 2010: Consadole Sapporo 0-0 FC Gifu
  • 2011: Consadole Sapporo 1-0 FC Gifu
  • 2013: Consadole Sapporo 4-0 FC Gifu

So by my reckoning, Gifu are yet to score a league goal in Sapporo. Surely that has to change this time, although we did say that about the Ehime trip earlier on this season, and that ended in a 0-0 draw.

If you take all the J.League games that have been played between the two sides the record is:

  • Sapporo – 7 wins
  • Gifu – 1 win
  • 1 draw

Gifu’s solitary win against the men from Hokkaido was way back in April 2010, when a Yudai Nishikawa double helped Gifu to a 3-0 win.

What happened last time?

Gifu were in a very generous mood last year at Atsubetsu Park, when some decidedly average defending let Consadole run up a very comfortable 4-0 win.

Match details:

  • J.League division 2, matchday 20: Consadole Sapporo v FC Gifu
  • Venue: Atsubetsu Sports Park, Sapporo. KO 2pm
  • Broadcast: Live on Skapa Channel 800
  • Weather: Mostly sunny, a few clouds possible, high of 25°C