A sigh of relief from the fans was heard as Albirex Niigata’s loss was countered by the losses of other teams that keeps Albirex afloat above the relegation zone. Rafael Silva returns from suspension and it’s expected the Brazilian striker will make an automatic return to the starting XI. Gakuto Notsuda returns from the Olympic squad in his role as a backup, an important inclusion for Tatsuma Yoshida, but the midfielder has struggled for match time in his absence and it will be important to handle his fitness. Musashi Suzuki returns from Olympic duty, considered a bonus in depth for Tatsuma Yoshida but he will not be too likely to receive game time upon his immediate return. The team will want to get an early goal to settle and be more comfortable in absorbing Fukuoka’s attacking pressure. The creative outlets in the team in their two Brazilian players will be given freedom in attack and especially around the final third, but will also be expected to contribute heavily in the defensive transition in trying to win the ball back quickly. Another loss at the weekend put Albirex in a somewhat precarious position, but they will be relieved that other results for the teams below them in the standings also went in their favour to keep their heads above water in their attempts to survive relegation.
Being unable to pull themselves back from a two goal deficit against Kashima Antlers, Avispa Fukuoka succumbed to another defeat and are in a position where they will need to find significantly improved form across the remaining matches in the season if they are to have any hope of escaping relegation. Masashi Kamekawa returns from Olympic duty and the very important defender will get game time upon his return, a valuable inclusion to the squad for Masami Ihara. Mizuki Hamada suspended for one match after two yellow cards in the team’s match against Kashima Antlers, a disappointment after the defender had begun to settle into his starting position. Yuichi Komano scores his first goal for his new team, important for the player’s confidence and will help him stay in consideration upon the return of Kamekawa. Avispa may feel a little more warranted in keeping possession and having a more attacking approach, but with the need to start picking up wins they will be unlikely to take too many risks in altering their game plan or becoming what they would consider to be less compact. They will try to exploit Albirex’s poor ability to handle crosses into the box and make use of their strength in that area, sending in early crosses to the middle of the penalty area to find the one or two players making attacking runs.
Verdict & Prediction
Five matches without a win puts Avispa Fukuoka in a difficult position and in desperate need for victory, and a match against Albirex Niigata is arguably their best chance at picking up three points.
Prediction: Avispa Fukuoka +0.50 AH (Double Chance)
Odds: 2.20 Pinnacle