Jeju United vs Gamba Osaka
Competition: AFC Champions League
Date: 9 May 2017
Kick-off: 12:00 CET
Jeju United may be sitting second in the table, but they are anything but sure they will be in the Champions League’s last 16. Adelaide United have two points less, but are hosting Jiangsu Suning, who, A) have already qualified and traveled to Australia without key players, and B) have been pathetic in most of their games these last two months, excluding, amazingly, their four wins in the AFC CL group. If Jeju draw, and Adelaide win, it’s game over for the Korean side, since they have just one point in their two matches against the Aussies. In other words, Jeju would really love to see Jiangsu earn at least a draw in Australia. Even if that happens, Jeju will need to be extra careful against Gamba, no matter if they have already humiliated them 4-1 in Japan earlier this season. If Adelaide don’t win, then Jeju get to qualify even by losing to Gamba, but only if their defeat is by a maximum of two goals. If Gamba win 3-0, 4-1, 5-2, they qualify. It should be noted that Jeju are the ones who ended Suning’s perfect record in the group two weeks ago, beating them 2-1 in China. Ever since then, they have picked up six points in three matches in Korea’s championship, including an impressive 4-0 triumph at Jeonbuk Motors.
Gamba Osaka have been disappointing in the Champions League this season, they lost three games in a row, including a humiliating 4-1 defeat at home to Jeju United, two weeks ago they failed to beat Adelaide United even though they went 2-0 and 3-2 up, but, almost… miraculously, they still stand a chance to qualify, albeit a small one. They need two things: Adelaide United not to beat Jiangsu Suning, and of course a win of themselves over Jeju, but not any win… They need it to be by at least three goals, 3-0, 4-1, 5-2, so as to finish with the same points as the Korean side, have three points each in the games between them, but a better goal difference. If they win 3-0, the fact that Jeju scored four in Japan won’t make a difference, it will be the overall goal difference in the group that will matter, and there, Gamba will have the advantage. Brazilian centre-forward Patric has been out for a long time, and won’t be back before next month. Important defensive midfielder Yasuyuki Konno got injured in mid March, and hasn’t played since, a real blow for the Japanese side. Last weekend, Gamba missed a huge chance to climb top of the table in the J-League, getting held by Shimizu S-Pulse to an 1-1 draw at home.
Jeju United vs Gamba Osaka: Head-to-head Stats
Jeju United have hosted Gamba Osaka once before, in 2011, when they beat them 2-1. Same season, Gamba won 3-1 at home, but earlier this year the Korean side left Osaka victorious, having thrashed Gamba 4-1!
Jeju United vs Gamba Osaka: Prediction
Call it going against all logic, but I’m actually backing Gamba not to lose. Sure, they got ridiculed by Jeju United earlier this season in Japan, sure, Jeju have been doing much better these last weeks compared to Gamba, but… for some reason, that has mostly to do with the Japanese players’ hurt ego (after that 1-4 at home), I expect them to give their all, and earn at least a draw. I definitely don’t expect them to win by three goals though, which they need in order to qualify, hoping for a Jiangsu draw/win in Adelaide at the same time.
Jeju United vs Gamba Osaka: Tips
‘Draw or Gamba’ is at 2.20. My other hunch on this game is ‘over 2.5 goals’, which pays much less, 1.65.