Gifu were beaten by neighbours Nagoya in an entertaining pre-season game at a rainy & cold Nagaragawa stadium.

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FC Gifu starting XI: Ota, Masuyama, Fuji, Takagi, Fukaya, Henik, Miyazawa, Takachi, Rodrigo, Kiyomoto, Namba

Gifu took the lead in the first half when Keiji Takachi tapped in from close range after good work from Takumi Kiyomoto down the left. The home side doubled the lead in the second half when Hiroaki Namba scored at the second time of asking, but conceded almost immediately after when Yusuke Muta scored. New Nagoya signing Miljove Novakovic equalized from the spot and Riki Matsuda hit the winner.

Here are just some brief thoughts on the game:

  1. Gifu’s new system looked good. They started with a flat back four, two holding midfielders, Rodrigo & Kiyomoto on the wings and Keiji Takachi behind Hiroaki Namba. It always gave Gifu two natural outlets and the pace & energy of the wingers looked good. As long as the holding midfielders are solid, as they were in the first half, that formation shows signs of working.

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  1. Height = good. True, Gifu did concede from a set piece, but both Takagi & Fukaya had chances to score at the other end. Gifu don’t look like they will be as vulnerable in the air this year and they could well pose more of a threat in the opponents area too.
  2. Keiji Takachi picked up right where he left last year. He was superb in midfield, and his dead-ball delivery will be great for the new tall targets.

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  1. Gifu is in safe hands. Gakuji Ota, essentially Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi’s back up gave an assured display despite conceding three goals. He isn’t afraid to command his area, has excellent distribution and good reflexes.

After the game, coach Ruy Ramos said the team still isn’t where it should be in terms of readiness for the new season, thoughts echoed by Keiji Takachi post-match. Ramos also said he is looking forward to getting Leo Mineiro in the squad, but he isn’t in match condition right now. The team have two weeks before they travel to Fagiano Okayama for the season opener.

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