Cup specialists Gamba Osaka can claim vital quarter-final victory
J-League Cup: Vissel Kobe v Gamba Osaka
Quarter-final first leg, 11am Wednesday
Gamba Osaka are a formidable force in the J-League Cup – they have reached three consecutive finals – and the cup specialists can keep their cool and claim a vital first-leg victory in their quarter-final trip to an out-of-sorts Vissel Kobe.
Kenta Hasegawa’s troops have been foiled in back-to-back finals but they were victorious in 2014 and their hunt for silverware should see them outclass the struggling hosts.
Only nine points separate the pair in the Japanese top flight but Vissel Kobe are in a slump and finding points hard to come by.
A run of five league games without a win has Takayuki Yoshida anxiously looking over his shoulder and they were thumped 6-1 on aggregate by eventual winners Urawa Reds at this stage last year.
Former Arsenal man Lukas Podolski has since been signed in an attempt to bolster Kobe's attacking ranks and he has netted three goals in six starts.
However, just four J1 League sides boast a meaner defence than Gamba Osaka and the talented German may find his threat kept to a minimum.
The visitors were 1-0 winners here when the sides clashed in the league in June and their 2-1 victory at high-flying Sagan Tosu four days ago, which ended a four-game winless run, should have eased the nerves in the camp.
Frontman Shun Nagasawa tends to carry Gamba’s biggest threat, he netted the winner when these two last met, and he may make some appeal in the first goalscorer market.
Gamba Osaka thrive in this competition and they look an excellent wager to pile the misery on the labouring hosts.
1pt 17-10 Betway