Nagoya Grampus and Cerezo Osaka got the results they wanted out of the first legs of their 2021 J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP semi-finals. Nagoya rolled to a big 3-1 home win over F.C.Tokyo, while Cerezo walked away with an away goal and 1-1 draw against Urawa Reds. Now, they are just 90 minutes away from advancing to the cup final.
No team is better situated to book their spot in the final than Grampus. Not only do they hold a two-goal lead, but they are one of the best defensive teams in the country. Toss in a squad that is mostly intact from the international break and Massimo Ficcadenti’s men are in a good position to advance.
F.C.Tokyo are not going to roll over, though. They are the defending cup champions and the second leg is back at Ajinomoto Stadium. With Diego Oliveira leading the way, they are capable of bulging the back of the net and they only need to do it twice, provided their defense is up to task. Nagoya will make it difficult, but it is not impossible, so while Grampus have one foot in the final, F.C.Tokyo could still pull a surprise.
The other second leg will be played in Osaka, where Cerezo know a home win or scoreless draw will send them on to the final. That gives them the upper hand heading into the second 90 minutes, but Urawa are also a win away. It’ll be tough to do it on the road, but they have Kasper Junker up top and that is enough for optimism. The Dane has four goals in the tournament, making him the joint leader, and gives the Reds confidence that they can win in Osaka and yet again reach a League Cup final.
Will Nagoya’s fearsome defense hold up or will F.C.Tokyo steal a final spot? And will the home fans fuel Cerezo or will Junker lead Urawa to victory on the road? It’s 90 minutes to the final, and all four teams will be laying it all on the line to play for the glory of the cup.