It seems like Eons ago that the boys in green took the pitch against a J2 squad. In ventures Montedio Yamagata, a J2 squad that prides itself on stifling defense and closely contested games. It's a smart strategy for a team which lost it's leading scorer and second leading assist distributor from a year ago in Leandro.
This season has seen the squad go a pedestrian 1-2-1 with a goal differential of 0. Last week saw them drop their first game of the year to a mirror image Consadole squad who employs the same stifling defensive tactic. One player you won't be seeing is D mid Masaru Akiba, who managed to pick up a yellow card late in the loss to Sapporo. As always, the team relies on a stout defense led by longtime central defender Leandro and old Verdy friend Tatsuya Ishikawa.
Potential Montedio Lineup
GK Kenta Shimizu
DF Ishikawa Kobara Leandro Kimura
MF Watanabe Usui
FW Kitamura Toyoda
Keys to the game
1. Beat the branch players- Unlike in past games, Montedio boasts a muscular presence in the middle in Leandro. Verdy is going to need speed on the sides to get penetration against a defense that doesn't give up many chances. This might be a game where Fukunishi gets a quick hook for the speedier Inoue.
2. Keep your cool- If Hulk thinks that he didn't get much breathing room against Cerezo, he's gonna hate this matchup. If he has another mini meltdown, there is no doubt in my mind Verdy will be a man down.
3. Patience is a virtue- Expect Verdy to come out rusty after a good sized layoff. If the goals don't come early, the temptation will be to push guys up like Tsuchiya and Nanami into the box. DON'T DO IT......Montedio lives for the counterattack. The offensive parts (Zaizen, Kitamura, Toyoda) aren't going to dazzle you with creativity or dangerous moves. They counterpunch you and sit back. They wait like snakes in the grass.
4. NOZOMI HIROYAMA- I don't know what Ramos has up his cornhole for this guy but all he does is play effective soccer when he's on. It would be great for the innefective Ono and the erratic Diego to have a real threat on the bench waiting in the wings to pounce on the opportunity to get in the starting lineup. Nagai has been great in his role but El Capitan has offered nothing this season. Let him hang out with Hagi for awhile.