Sasaki is the only player out injured for Sanfrecce Hiroshima. However, that won’t have had much impact on Moriyasu’s selection as they have much better players in his position, so they have the potential to field their strongest side. Match fitness shouldn’t be an issue and they look ready for kick off after playing nine games in pre-season. They’ll be hoping it will give them the edge over their opposition and they have the quality to win. They’ll probably try to start quickly, using their extra preparation in an attempt to get in front quickly. If they can do that, Moriyasu does tend to soak up pressure well, which could be enough to win.
Albirez Niigata find themselves without Ito, who is out with a cruciate ligament rupture, while Joo-Hoo Song is likely to miss the game due to a wound. However, neither will be missed too much and Niigata should be able to field their strongest team. They’ve played a similar number of games to Hiroshima in pre-season and won most of them, so confidence will be at a high, but they need to be at their best to get a result. A cautious approach is most likely, sitting in a 4-1-4-1 while looking for space on the counter-attack. They’d be happy to keep the scores level for as long as possible, so goals may be short.
Albirez Niihata barely escaped relegation last year, but they will probably go down this season. They have a new manager, Fumitake Miura(coming over from Nagano Parceiro, 1.76 points per game, previously assistant coach at FC Tokyo in 2007 ) who is not a very experienced manager which this team desperately needs if they want to stay in the first league. They also lost Rafael Silva(11 goals previos season) to Urawa Reds, Leo Silva left for Kashima Antlers, Michael James was picked up by Kawasaki Frontale and Bruno Cortez went back to Brazil. In short, they lost a lot of important players.
Verdict & Prediction
Sanfrecce Hiroshima didn’t have the best of season’s last year and they’ll be hoping to do better this time round. They look motivated and ready for kick off, having played 9 pre-season friendlies, while winning a number of those by 2 and 3 goal margins so they’ll be confident. Moriyasu’s transfer business has increased competition for places within the squad, which can only bode well for the team as none of the new signings will want to sit on the bench, so motivation should be good. Hiroshima have under-performed slightly in recent seasons, considering the quality of their squad and the club have shown loyalty to the manager, who has been there for a while. The pressure will be on to reward that faith with decent performances.
Prediction: Sanfrecce Hiroshima -1.00 Asian Handicap
Odds: 2.09 SBOBET