Gamba have had 2 rather poor seasons in a row now with a 9th and 10th place finish which is much lower than what their fans would expect. The form they showed in the 2nd half of the season was quite promising though, and they won 9 out of their last 10 matches which bides well for this year’s campaign.
They have kept pretty much all their players since last season, and have also strengthened their defence with the experienced South Korean centreback Kim Young Gwon from Guangzhou Evergrande. He should be a nice addition to their backline and will serve as a natural leader in their defence, which is something they have lacked for a couple of seasons now. Offensively I expect them once again to rely on another South Korean player in Hwang Ui-Jo, who netted 15 goals in 27 matches last season but they also got decent options in Ademilson and Kazuma Watanabe.
One thing that some fans might worry about is their coverage for the positions on the middle of the pitch, as they are still relying on 39-year old Yasuhito Endo and 36-year old Yasuyuki Konno in the 2 central midfield positions. They are not getting any younger, and there’s hardly any decent back-up for either players except for a couple of youngsters that lack experience.
Tsuneyasu Miyamoto took over Gamba midway through last season and deserves a lot of credit for turning things around and steering the team away from relegation after their disastrous start to the season. So although he’s fresh he’s already high regarded in Japan, but this will be his first ever full-season in charge of a top-level team.
It’s difficult to say exactly how good this team will be, but the quality is there and they have a very high maximum level so they could potentially be a candidate for a top 3 finish if everything goes according to Miyamoto’s plan. But then again, they showed last season that their bottom level is extremely low too and we’re likely to see some big variations in their performances.
Performance Past Seasons:
2018: (Predicted: 5th – 8th) 9.
2017: (Predicted: 2nd – 5th) 10.
2016: (Predicted: 2nd – 4th) 4.
2015: (Predicted: 1st – 4th) 2.
2014: (Predicted: (6th – 10th) 1.
2013: (Predicted: 1st – 2nd ) 1. (J2)
Average Goals Past Seasons:
2018: 2.56 (41-46) Home: 2.18 / Away: 2.94
2017: 2.62 (48-41) Home: 2.29 / Away: 2.94
2016: 2.79 (53-42) Home: 2.76 / Away: 2.82
2015: 2.73 (56-37) Home: 2.47 / Away: 3.00
2014: 2.65 (59-31) Home: 2.65 / Away: 2.65
2013: 3.45 (99-46) Home: 2.81 / Away: 4.10 (J2)
DF Kim (I)
DF Aoyama (S/R)
DF Fabio (R)
DF Hatsuse (S/R)
MF Ide (S/R)
MF Mori (S/R)
FW Ichimi (S/R)
Expected Starting Lineup:
Oh – Kim(I) – Miura – Fujiharu
Onose – Endo (I) – Konno – Kurata
Ademilson – Hwang(K)
Prediction: 4th – 7th place