No excuses, Gamba simply better
Mike Tuckerman, whom I asked to help out with some Gamba Osaka scouting, wrote an interesting article titled "Gamba Osaka vs Melbourne Victory: excuses at the ready?" asking who would be coming up with the excuses after last night's clash between the two teams as many were offered after their first clash. Last time around, I offered no excuses for our dramatic loss to Gamba Osaka and this time around it will be the same. Of course this time the loss wasn't dramatic, but you could see it coming.
It was good to see, Ernie Merrick bite the bullet and start Patafta much to the delight of many fans. Unfortunately, in only his second start at the Victory he was unable to deliver. He probably wasn't helped that after a busy first ten to fifteen minutes where the Victory actually played it through the midfield, the team resorted to old tactics and bypassed this area of the pitch for the remainder of the match. In contrast, as with the game two weeks ago, Gamba totally dominated the midfield and thus the game.
It is quite clear that to be competitive with teams with Japan and in fact Aisa as a whole, your midfield needs to be pretty strong technically, something which our team lacks without the influence of Hernandez. Too often our passes in midfield went astray and plays were broken up quickly. Its an area where I think all Australian teams need to strengthen and teams from the J-League would be a good starting point of where to start.
There was no real standouts from the Victory side of things, although an honourable mention probably should go to Billy Celeski, whom I thought put in a decent effort. Its a pity that he didn't have many supporters. A positive, although we did concede from a free kick, was that our defending at set pieces was a lot better overall. Standouts for Osaka was of course, Yasuhito Endo and goalscorer Masato Yamazaki, who combined for both goals. In reality you could add the rest of their midfield to that list. Also, my girlfriend liked the look of Michihiro Yasuda, put that may have been for more aesthetic reasons.
Anyway, our ACL campaign is officially over, even though we have two games remaining in the campaign. Wouldn't mind seeing a player such as Nathan Elasi getting a run in the remaining matches, to give him a taste of ACL action and some match time. It also looks like Gamba Osaka will qualify from our group after Chonburi FC drew with Chunnam Dragons in Thailand. It will be interesting to see how they progress through the rest of the tournament.
On a final and slightly silly note, my girlfriend reckoned that Leigh Broxham looked a little like "Marky Mark" Mark Wahlberg last night. I'll let you be the judge.