3/21 – Tokushima Vortis v FC Gifu

For some reason, presumably to help Japan’s ACL sides, J2 switches to a Saturday and FC Gifu make the trip to Shikoku to face last year’s bottom placed J1 team, Tokushima Vortis.

Current form & condition: FC Gifu

Gifu won last weekend but, as I alluded to in my match report from the game, it wasn’t the best performance you’ll see. They didn’t keep the ball as well as they should have, which just invited pressure – pressure that a more clinical team would have capitalized upon. Tokushima, despite their start, are a better team than Sanuki and they have some good players so it will be essential to keep the ball better.

My predicted starting XI:

Kawaguchi

Masuyama    Takagi    Fukaya    Fuji

Henik    Miyazawa

Endo              Takachi         Leo Mineiro

Namba

I think Kiyomoto might make way in this game. Junki Endo gives the team a much more dangerous and pacey outlet, and will give the Vortis defence something extra to think about. If fit, then Rodrigo & Ryoto Higa are candidates to fill this position on the right hand side.

Current form & condition: Tokushima Vortis

Vortis have started slowly in their return to J2. An opening day draw at home to Ehime FC was followed last week by a defeat in Kitakyushu. Some of the football magazines expect Vortis to finish in the top 6, but this start makes you pause and think about that scenario. I’m on record as saying that I think they’ll do well just to recover from the shellshock of their horrendous time in J1 and I think they’ll need time to get their bearings again.

Coach Shinji Kobayashi likes to play with a 4-4-2, and Gifu born Tomohiro Tsuda has started both games this year. This is the team that started the defeat in Kitakyushu:

Hasegawa

Hirose   Aoyama   Fukumoto   Uchida

Saito   Hamada   Sasaki   Osaki

Tsuda   Sato

Tsuda has a good record in J2, but wide midfielder/winger/free role man Junya Osaki is the player to watch for Tokushima. He scored 8 times in Vortis’ promotion year and became a key player in the team. He likes to drift around the forward areas and can be very difficult to pick up. FC Gifu’s probable right back Tsukasa Masuyama had a very physical duel with Andrea last week, but he will face a very different, but no less difficult opponent this week.

Hopefully Gifu keep the ball better than they did last week and can come away from the Pocari Sweat Stadium with something to show for their efforts.

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