FC Gifu have now battled for two-thirds of their inaugural J2 season. Below are some thoughts on the second-third of the season and season thus far.
R30 J2 Table (FC Gifu Result)
65 Sanfreece Hiroshima (1-1) (0-4)
50 Montedio Yamagata (5-3) (2-1)
46 Sagan Tosu (0-1) (0-0)
45 Shonan Bellmare (2-4) (0-0)
45 Vegalta Sendai (0-1) (1-1)
42 Cereso Osaka (0-1) (0-5)
42 Thespa Kusatsu (0-1) (1-1)
39 Avispa Fukuoka (5-1) (0-1)
36 Ventforet Kofu (1-1) (0-0)
34 Yokohama FC (2-3) (1-0)
33 FC Gifu
32 Mito Hollyhock (3-1) (0-1)
27 Ehime FC (0-3) (0-0)
25 Roasso Kumamoto (2-0) (0-0)
15 Tokushima Vortis (2-1) (1-0)
Results show that Gifu have not been good enough to beat most teams at the top of the table and have also stumbled against teams that are or were below them. This has led to a slip from 8th in the competition in Round 15, to 11th in the competition in Round 30.
Results Round 1-30:
Results - Overall
Won 8 Draw 9 Loss 11 (R1-15 W5 D2 L7) (R16-30 W3 D7 L4)
Results - Home
Won 2 Draw 4 Loss 8 (R1-15 W1 D1 L5) (R16-30 W1 D3 L3)
Results - Away
Won 6 Draw 5 Loss 3 (R1-15 W4 D1 L2) (R16-30 W2 D4 L1)
Overall results show that although Gifu haven't won as much in the second-third of the season, they haven't lost as many games either. This could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing. More draws means that they either drew more games that they could have lost or oppositely drew more games that they could have won.
Away form has again been the saviour for Gifu. With six wins away the are second only to Hiroshima in away form. On the other side of the coin is the fact that there home form is still terrible. 2 wins and 15th (last) in the league...
Overall Gifu can show a bit of pride that they haven't had as many teams beat them in the second part of the competition. However most teams don't settle for draws and in this aspect Gifu will be disappointed. The loss of an extra two points from these draws in winnable games are a telling sign as to why Gifu has slipped down on the table.
Goals - For 30 goals (=12th)
Goals - Against 37 goals (8th)
In the first third of the J2 Gifu played an attacking style of football and were ranked 2nd in goal scoring ability. On the other hand they were ranked 11th in goals against. In the second third of the J2 though, Manager Matsunaga changed the team formation to a defensive one relying on mainly counter-attack to provide goals, in order to stop the flow of goals they were conceding. While Gifu's defense in the second third is amongst the best, their attack in turn, has become one of the worst.
What kind of formation Matsunaga is going to resort to in the last third of the j2 is still a mystery. Gifu have showed that they have the ability to have some of the best attack and defense in the competition, but the question is whether they can find the balance between the two.
1. Atsushi Katagiri
Finally started to show his potential in the second third of the competition. Is up there with the best in goal assists and has managed a few goals for himself too. His free kick winner against Yamagata was a pearler. He is THE key forward for Gifu.
2. Kota Fukatsu
One of the key reasons Gifu's defense has been so strong lately. Aggresive tackler.
3. Takashi Umeda
Goals have been hard to come by lately for Umeda, but his general play is superb and he is glue that holds this team together. Top contender for Gifu player of the year.
1. FC Gifu 2 - 1 Yamagata Montedio
Gifu finally showed that they could score off a set play and that they could win at home (on the odd occasion). Yamagata came back to tie the game up at 1-1 but then Katagiri magically guided the ball over wall from a free kick to seal the winner with only a minute remaining on the clock.
2. Vegalta Sendai 1 - 1 FC Gifu
The first time Gifu play in the best J2 stadium in front of 13000 odd screaming Vegalta fans. Game could of gone either way. Also saw the return of Otomo to his old stamping ground and a great performance by him to boot.
3. Yokohama FC 0 - 1 FC Gifu
As a game from a spectators point of view, this wasn't the best. But Gifu showed plenty of gritty determination to pull out a one goal victory and get revenge for the demoralising come-from-behind defeat to Yokohama FC at Nagara Stadium in the early rounds.
Atsushi Katagiri's goal vs Vegalta Sendai in round 28. Great right-field dribble from Takashi Umeda and a nicely weighted pass from Hiromi Kojima to Katagiri to net the goal. All after just five minutes of play at Yuatech Stadium, Sendai.
49842 (14 games)
Average Attendace: 3560 (J2 - 14th)
As expected Gifu's poor home form has ultimately led to a dip in the number of people attending the games. Another factor is the fact that they didn't play any of the crowd-pulling pleasers like Hiroshima or Yokohama at home this round either.
One other point is that while most of the other teams have a rival team to play which boosts attendance numbers, such as Ehime vs Tokushima, Gifu does not have that rival team in the J2. The pre-season game vs Nagoya Grampus is a great example of this kind of rivalry boosting numbers, as over 10,000 turned up to Nagaragawa to watch that game.
Still though, the faithful always show up at Nagaragawa. Again though, more losses at home, especially to the likes of Tokushima, will unfortunately almost definitely see crowds numbers drop again...
The results have been average for Gifu this third of the competition. There were no big wins for Gifu this time but instead two big losses against Hiroshima and Osaka respectively. Defense, although improving dramatically, has not been able to save Gifu when the goals aren't coming at the other end of the field. There have been good games but there is a growing dissatisfaction among the fans in the way that Gifu are playing the game. There was a stark contrast in the attacking brand of football being played in the first 15 rounds compared with the defensive play shown in the second 15 rounds. For fans this is quite a hard transition to watch, but if the results begin to come through then the fans should warm up to the change.
What will the last 15 rounds bring? A good performance could see Gifu finish mid-table or even slightly above. A continue in their current form could see them fall again though and finishing 15th out of 15 is still a possibility.
How will the 2008 FC Gifu team finish? The last 15 rounds will define the season for Gifu. If they fade, the season will become a disappointing first year. Start winning again though, the season will be a very satisfying one.
Go the Greens! Do it for Gifu!