Albirex Niigata v Vissel Kobe – J League

Albirex Niigata v Vissel Kobe

Albirex Niigata

Another loss puts Albirex Niigata in a precarious position on the league table, raising concerns for confidence despite supporters rallying around their team and doing their best to encourage the best-possible performances. Losing both Gakuto Notsuda and Musashi Suzuki to Japan’s Olympic makes matters worse in depth and competition for starting places, with the team struggling to find goals and clean sheets despite what they consider to be quality football. A more direct approach is favoured by Tatsuma Yoshida, with counter attacking and penetrating passes to a single running attacker the common method of bringing the ball forward in the attacking half of the pitch. Meanwhile, the team has struggled in defence to close down opponents and typically focus on the ball rather than opting to mark players or space. Supporters remain encouraging towards their team despite the awful form, but there is concern particularly for the confidence of the squad. Another match in front of their home crowd should hope keep spirits up despite the low confidence, but there is further pressure on Tatsuma Yoshida to try to find more consistent positive results as the season progresses.

Vissel Kobe

Saturday’s visit to Niigata is a golden opportunity for Kobe to shake off their roller-coaster form and string together positive performances. Niigata are in poor form and had their ranks further thinned this week by losing two players to Olympic call-ups. Kobe should view this match as eminently winnable. The biggest hindrance to that goal is the absence of Pedro Junior, who is suspended for the match after picking up his third booking of the season during the previous week’s win over Omiya. The Brazilian has the fewest league goals (5) among Kobe’s attacking trio alongside Kazuma Watanabe (8) and Leandro (12), but he is still an important part of the attack. Niigata will not fill Kobe with fear, but with Pedro suspended, manager Nelsinho may still opt for solidity and play a 4-4-2 with Leandro and Watanabe up front instead of a 4-3-3. Soma is expected to return to his starting left back role.

Verdict & Prediction

Visiting struggling Niigata is a good opportunity for Kobe to snap their recent trend of alternating good and bad performances. Winning at Niigata is certainly possible, and with the next match against an in-flux Tokyo, something resembling consistency could start to take shape. Take visitors to deliver!

Prediction : Vissel Kobe + 0.00 AH (Draw no bet)
Odds : 2.06 Pinnacle


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