FC Gifu head west on Sunday for a date with J2’s surprise package Giravanz Kitakyushu at Honjo Stadium.
Team news & my predicted FC Gifu starting line up: Kawaguchi, Abe, Henik, Tanaka, Mori, Masuyama, Takachi, Mizuno, Kleiton, Namba, Nazarit
I feel bad for leaving Junki Endo and Ryoto Higa out as I think that they should be given playing time to assess them for next year, but there is no doubt that Nazarit & Namba play really well together so when they are both fit, they will automatically start together. I’d really like to see Yuki Nakamura, Hirofumi Moriyasu & Tomohiro Tanaka in the squad as well as it would be good for them to get some playing time. In defence it will be a bit of a lottery. I think Henik will move back there to combat the physical presence of Kitakyushu forward Kazuki Hara. Keiji Takachi came off injured last week, but he is expected to start.
Why are Giravanz doing so well?
1. They have an excellent coach in Hashiratani, and he has been trusted by the Giravanz board to rebuild after the gutting of their side when Yasutoshi Miura went to Tokyo Verdy
2. Everyone knows their role. Giravanz play a pretty old school 4-4-2, but within that system there is room for flexibility. For example, Koki Kotegawa usually lines up on the right side of the midfield four, but he is given license to roam wherever he pleases – on the express understanding that he’ll never leave the right full-back, usually Kenta Hoshihara, over exposed. The same goes for top scorer Tomoki Ikemoto. He is almost always listed as a striker but he drops back, drops to the right & to the left to pick up the ball in positions where he can create something.
3. Ability to grind out results. This year, Kitakyushu have won seventeen games. Thirteen of those wins have come by a single goal, and that tells me that they know how to see out close games, which is something that FC Gifu have struggled to do.
Current form (last 5 games, most recent first)
- FC Gifu: LLWDL
- Giravanz Kitakyushu: WDDWD
- FC Gifu: Nazarit (14), Hiroaki Namba (11)
- Giravanz Kitakyushu: Tomoki ikemoto (14), Kazuki Hara (7)
Previous J.League games in Kitakyushu
- 2010 – Giravanz Kitakyushu 0-1 FC Gifu
- 2011 – Giravanz Kitakyushu 3-2 FC Gifu
- 2012 – Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-1 FC Gifu
- 2013 – Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-0 FC Gifu
Overall J.League record
- FC Gifu wins: 4
- Giravanz Kitakyushu wins: 4
- Draws: 1
The reverse fixture
The teams drew 1-1 at Nagaragawa back in May. After a pretty average first half, Keiji Takachi gave FC Gifu the lead in the 61st minute and Gifu looked set for the win after Giravanz defender Kazuya Maeda was sent off for kick at Hiroaki Namba. But just four minutes after the visitors were reduced to 10 men, Kazuki Hara found space in the box and pounced to make it 1-1 and give Hashiratani’s a point they would feel extremely happy with.