Welcome back to the J.League everyone! What a way to open the season - a 2-3 victory away at Gamba. It doesn't get much sweeter than that.
First, thanks for all the great messages. Who would have guessed that La Famiglia has so many followers in places like Switzerland, South Korea and Ecuador! Cheers.
Anyway, watching Vissel totally outplay the enemy, on their turf, made the usually horrible trip out to Banpaku, not only bearable, but TOTALLY worthwhile. The scoreline does not reflect the way we dominated the match from start to finish, either. Nobody can deny that we deserved this victory 100%.
Let's start at the back.
GK. Admittedly, standing between the posts for Vissel Kobe is not the easiest job in the world. In the past, the job description would have read, "Must be prepared to deal with a barrage of shots from opposing attackers for approximately 90 minutes per week. Job perks include the occasional taste of victory, mainly due to you SUCCESSFULLY protecting your goal from a barrage of shots from opposing attackers for approximately 90 minutes per week." Well, it appears things have changed. Tokushige did little wrong and only had to make a couple of saves thanks to the protection he got from our back 4.
DF. What a difference a star makes. National team defender Inoha joined us this off-season bringing with him experience, class and hope. Kitamoto probably stood out to the neutral with some immense clearing headers, but not to take anything away from a very solid performance on his part, it was Inoha's positioning keeping the line that enabled him to do this. Gakuto injected some energy into the mood more than anything, but I expect to see him warming the bench when we have all players fit. And then there was Soma. SOMA. Woo! Ashley who? His runs up the left ripped Gamba apart! Take a look at the way he left Myojin for dead in the left corner to set up our first. Classic.
MF. This is the End-o, my only furendo! What good is it having the best MF player in Japan when you're playing against possibly the best midfield in Japan! Seriously, ex-dark sider Hashimoto controlled the left where we were most dominant, Mihara played a holding role, Hide ran around as always like a headless chicken, but to effect, and Nozawa lived up to his title as the best set play taker in the land. I have a feeling we will be scoring a lot more of these this season (2 in this game).
FW. Okubo started up front and was real pest like we know he can be, without spitting his dummy. Actually, after watching the replay (you need to for shitty grounds like this), I noticed he dropped back quite a bit too to put pressure on their midfield. Top performance by him. Morioka did OK but looked a little TOO relaxed at times for me for someone who is certainly not guaranteed a place in the starting lineup each week. Wada can't be expected to change a winning team, but I would like to see Yoshida in this team, too.
SUBS. Park is just what you need for a counter when the opposition is chasing the game. Clever Wada. And Mogi was dangerous in the air on crosses. I would still choose him over Morioka at the moment.
The hangover has gone but the buzz remains.
2012 could be the year of VISSEL.