GIANT KILLING – 21
Well if being down one goal against Osaka Gunners wasn’t enough to set the stage for a miraculous comeback, being down two after the first half should help in that regard. I probably shouldn’t be so convinced that ETU is going to pull out with a huge upset win and give Osaka their first loss of the season, but it’d be downright wrong at this point for them to come out of this with a loss. Given the pacing of two episodes for the first half, plus an entire one dedicated as build-up for this match, I can’t fathom that this adaptation will end without a giant killing of monstrous proportions. There isn’t enough time in the current twenty-six episode run to see how far ETU comes along as a team under Tatsumi’s guidance, so turning a lot of heads in the Japan Football League with a win here seems like a semi-fulfilling way to go out.
In terms of surprises, it looks like Dulfer has one over Tatsumi at the moment after showing that his secret weapon Kubota is as much of a scorer as he is a loose ball specialist in the offensive zone. Despite Tatsumi’s shock at Kubota’s goal, I’m still skeptical that he didn’t take into account his scoring ability after studying all the video tapes of Osaka’s previous matches. If there’s one thing that I’ve felt I could bank on Tatsumi for, it’s being prepared for everything that the opposition has available, whether or not he has the perfect counter for each and every one of them. From the coaches’ perspective, I dare even say the one who runs out of trump cards first is fated to be the loser, so I haven’t counted Tatsumi out just yet. It’s pretty apparent that things don’t look good for ETU at the moment, especially when they’re not known as a team that can come back from a two-goal deficit; however, I’m still wondering if there really is a problem with Gino’s passing or if it’s something he’s doing intentionally to throw off Hiraga and Osaka’s other national-level midfielders and defenders.
It’s difficult to tell when most of the focus has been on ETU’s defenders and their desperate attempts to hold off Osaka’s waves of offense, but from the brief amount of attention that Gino, Tsubaki, Natsuki, and Sera’s been getting, I’d like to believe that it hasn’t been all just to show how unsuccessful they’ve been. Tsubaki in particular doesn’t look like he’s off his game, but simply failing to connect cleanly with that long lead pass that Gino’s been trying to send him, which may or may not be intentional for all we know. There hasn’t been a lot of focus on Natsuki nor Sera either, so there’s no telling what’s going through their minds for the past while. In short, it’s way too early to count ETU out when Tatsumi looks confident during the half-time break and they haven’t even shown what they have in store on their offensive side of the game. In the future, it might be worth trying Murakoshi in a forward position to see if his game as a defensive midfielder has some unforeseen benefit as a striker just like Kubota, but for now the guys on the field will have to get the job done in their current positions. It’ll happen!