Gamba Osaka season preview: Big changes as Nerazzurri aim for turnaround

Gamba Osaka season preview: Big changes as Nerazzurri aim for turnaround

Gamba Osaka are one of the J.League’s Original Ten clubs and have spent all but one season since in the country’s top flight, but they’ve slipped in recent seasons. They last won the Meiji Yasuda J1 League in 2014 and, after finishing second in 2020, fell into the relegation fight the last two seasons. Can they turn things around in 2023?

Last season

The season started well for Gamba, with a spate of early results putting them in the top half of the table, but losses in 10 of their last 18 saw them plummet in the table. They made it into the relegation places, but two wins and two draws in their final four matches lifted them to safety and gave them momentum heading into this season.

Goal for 2023

It may be a little too ambitious for Gamba to jump back into the title race after two underwhelming seasons, but there’s no reason they can’t move back into the top half of the table. This is a proud club with great supporters and they’ve shown they can be excellent before. The last two seasons are outliers, not the norm, and the climb can begin in 2023 with a leap to the top nine.

What to watch for

Gamba made big changes in the winter, jettisoning Patric to Kyoto Sanga after he led the team in scoring the last three seasons and ending Kosei Tani’s loan spell at Shonan Bellmare to take over in goal.

They also hired Dani Poyatos as their new boss, bringing a possession-oriented approach to the black and blue side of Osaka.The key will be how they integrate some of the new young players they’ve signed, like talented right back Riku Handa.

Maybe the top priority for Gamba will be figuring out how to get results at Panasonic Stadium Suita. Despite fervent support in the stands, the Nerazzurri managed just four wins at home in 2022, compared to five away. They need to turn their home ground into a fortress once again.

Can Poyatos turn this sleeping giant into a force with the same attacking panache he pioneered at Tokushima Vortis? We'll find out in 2023.

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