Cup specialists Gamba hold all the aces in Osaka derby
Gamba Osaka tend to come alive in the J-League Cup – they have made three consecutive finals – and can move one step closer to a fourth by avoiding defeat in the first-leg of their semi-final clash with bitter city rivals Cerezo Osaka.
Cup specialists Gamba were defeated in the final on penalties 12 months ago by Urawa Reds but their victory over Vissel Kobe in the last round was an indicator that they have their eyes set on regaining their silverware.
The visitors have been struggling in the league of late. They trail their neighbours Cerezo by eight points – and are winless in five matches – but they would have had this tussle in mind and punters should expect to see a much different Gamba on their trip to the Kincho Stadium.
Despite losing four of their last five games, Kenta Hasegawa’s men have looked lively going forward, netting seven times in those matches, and may get plenty of chances to bolster that record against their defensively-fragile rivals.
The hosts have shipped nine goals in successive league defeats against Kawasaki Frontale and struggling Vegalta Sendai and, given their recent record in the Osaka derby, their defence could have their limits tested.
The Osaka derby tends to produce fireworks. Both teams have notched in seven of the last eight meetings and Gamba haven’t lost a to their rivals since 2012 – a run stretching back seven games.
Lively frontman Shun Nagasawa, who has netted four of Gamba’s last seven goals, is sure to have his say and the visitors look overpriced given their formidable cup record.
However, both teams have scored in Gamba’s last five matches and it could pay to expect another high-scoring encounter.
Gamba Osaka draw no bet
1pt 13-10 Hills
Over 2.5 goals
2pts 4-5 general
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