It’s here! It’s finally here! Three and a half months after our last competitive match down ‘Daira way, Saturday at last sees us back in business. In match day two of 2009, we welcome Yokohama F. Marinos (don’t forget the F) to the newly christened Outsourcing Stadium Nihondaira.
Yokohama are no doubt still smarting from getting turned over 4-2 at home by newly promoted Hiroshima, but they really shouldn’t feel too bad about it. It could have been worse, after all. Hiroshima are still riding the wave that started back in March 08 with their Xerox Super Cup victory, and swept them relentlessly on to the J2 title. With 100 points and 99 goals, they were 22 points clear of Yamagata with an incredible +64 goal difference. I doubt anyone would have fancied taking them on last week.
With Marinos playing 3-4-3, it's no big surprise they managed a couple of goals against what is still in effect a J2 defence. But it also goes some way to explain how a stronger team could dictate midfield and overwhelm their three man defence. Word over at the wonderfully professional looking Tricolor Pride, laments the way Hiroshima pulled Marinos all over the pitch, and if we play the fast-paced passing game we're more than capable of, we'll be able to capitalise on the extra space down the flanks to get those crosses into Okazaki and Johnsen.
Last Sunday was a frustrating way to start the season. 17 shots should have reaped better rewards, but all things considered, a draw was fair. Rustiness in front of goal meant we saw some excellent chances go begging. I’m confident we can win the midfield battle on Saturday which will give opportunities for the the likes of Edamura and Okazaki to get back to their deadly best. I'm not expecting a starting eleven much different to last week.
In helping promote our club, Shizuoka City have really been going for it over the last couple of years. Working with S-Pulse, I doubt there's a person left in town unaware of the game on Saturday!
We're set to top last year's gate of 18292 for this fixture, and not only that, 'Daira will be rocking to quite possibly our largest ever opening weekend crowd.
At the time of writing there’s only around 1000 tickets left, so if you’ve not got yours yet, don’t count on paying on the day – get one now! One final word - don't forget your mac, cos like last year, it might be wet!
FRIDAY EVENING EDIT
Good news! While the rain is set to hammer down all night, according to latest weather reports it'll clear up late morning and we'll be blessed with a clear blue sky with which to kick off our 2009 home campaign.
God truly is an S-Pulse fan. :)
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