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J1 LEAGUE

Meiji Yasuda J1 League, Match-day 5 Preview – Kawasaki Frontale’s massive attack to challenge Yokohama FC, while Kashima Antlers hope to end losing streak against defending champions

Match-day 5 of MEIJI YASUDA J1 League will take place on July 18.

Kawasaki Frontale will face Yokohama FC away. The league leaders' attackers are in a fine form, scoring nine goals in the last three games, securing as many consecutive wins. Akihiro Ienaga, who scored a brace in the last match, is expected to play an important role. Meanwhile, Yokohama FC drew with Vegalta Sendai. Their confidence is improving, and young strikers Kazunari Ichimi and Koki Saito are bringing positive energy to the team.

The clash between FC Tokyo and Urawa Reds is one of the biggest matches of the week. FC Tokyo defeated Yokohama F.Marinos 3-1 last week, when Kensuke Nagai’s speed gave them an extra edge. This will be the last match for Kento Hashimoto in the FC Tokyo kit before he moves to Russia. Urawa are currently in second place after winning the last two games. Their defense is getting increasingly stable and ready to contain FC Tokyo’s speedy attack.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima versus Cerezo Osaka is another interesting match. Hiroshima failed to win the last two, after thundering through the first two games of the season. Their most recent game was a goalless draw at Sagan Tosu. Cerezo Osaka, who suffered their first defeat of the season against Nagoya Grampus, will try to bounce back this weekend. Since both teams boast solid defense, the performance of the attackers could be a decisive factor.

Fifth-place Nagoya Grampus, as said above, gained momentum by defeating Cerezo Osaka, and host Sagan Tosu this week. Hiroyuki Abe is in fine form and could be a key player this week as well. Tosu occupy the 15th spot in the table as they have not seized their first win of the season yet. Although there are serious concerns over their attacking department (which is yet to produce a goal!), things can change if they improve their finishing, as they were finally able to create some chances against Sanfrecce in their last game.

Vegalta Sendai meet Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo at home. They drew with Yokohama FC on their last match-day as Alexandre Guedes scored his first goal. Expectations are high for Takuma Nishimura, who is yet to score after returning to the team. Sapporo had a goalless draw with Shonan Bellmare. Since their main striker Musashi Suzuki will be absent, they need to figure out other ways to find the net.

Gamba Osaka, who jumped up to eighth place by beating Shimizu S-Pulse, will host Oita Trinita. Kazuma Watanabe scored last-minute goals in the last two games and again he could play a decisive role. Oita are maintaining their good form and are undefeated since the restart of the league. While they show strong character even when falling behind, they need to be careful not to concede early in the game.

Kashiwa Reysol will try to stop their losing streak as they host Shonan Bellmare. To achieve such goal, their defense, that conceded three goals in two consecutive matches, needs to become more steady. Shonan as well are struggling, failing to claim a win so far, although they gained a first point by drawing with Sapporo last week. While maintaining  their defense solid, they will try to exploit the opponents through speedy attacks.

Vissel Kobe face Shimizu S-Pulse at home. They usually enjoy more possession of the opponents, but they are struggling to turn it into goals. Brazilian Douglas has the potential to solve the problem, playing in this game against his former team. Shimizu are in dire straits, having lost all four league games so far.

Kashima Antlers are another team yet to win a point in 2020. Their biggest problem is the lack of goals, and young talents such as Itsuki Someno and Ayase Ueda have not stepped up yet. Defending champions Yokohama F.Marinos also did not have the best start of the season as they have won only a game so far. Coming from a defeat versus FC Tokyo last week, they need three points to put an end to this negative period. Last season’s join top scorers Teruhito Nakagawa and Marcos Junior could be the ones to lead the team back to the title race.

 

J1 LEAGUE

Nagoya Grampus defeat table leaders Cerezo Osaka, FC Tokyo come from behind to top Yokohama F.Marinos.

Meiji Yasuda J1 League Match-day 4 took place over two days, on July 11th and 12th.

Kawasaki Frontale met Kashiwa Reysol at home. Akihiro Ienaga scored a brace in the last-minutes of the first half, and Leandro Damiao added a the third goal in the 52nd minute. Kashiwa pulled one back later in the game, but to no avail. As a result, Kawasaki have now won three in a row and are on top of the table, while Kashiwa lost three back-to-back.

Oita Trinita received the visit of Kobe. They conceded in the first minute of the match, but Tomoki Iwata equalized in the 29th minute. No goals were scored in the second half, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Cerezo Osaka, hosted Nagoya Grampus. The home side conceded an own goal in the 38th minute. To make matters worse, Cerezo let in another goal in the 61st minute, scored by Hiroyuki Abe, their winning streak ending at three. Urawa prevailed over Kashima Antlers with a lonely goal coming from Ewerton in the 52nd minute. With this result they moved up to second place on goal difference. Incredibly, Kashima, a powerhouse of Japanese football, have lost all four games so far.

FC Tokyo pulled out an important victory at Yokohama F.Marinos. They conceded early into the game, but Diego Oliveira equalized already in the 17th. During the additional time of the first half, Leandro’s fantastic free-kick found the back of the net and made it 2-1. The Brazilian then proceeded to add one more early into the second half, to seal the final score of 3-1 for the visitors. Gamba Osaka faced Shimizu S-Pulse on the road, and again in the dying moments of the match it was Kazuma Watanabe with a late goal that made it 2-1 and gave Gamba three important points. Shimizu as well have now lost four straight games.

Yokohama FC met Vegalta Sendai at home. They took the lead through Kazunari Ichimi’s goal in the first half, but conceded in the 57th and the game ended on a 1-1 result. Finally, Sagan Tosu-Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Shonan Bellmare-Consadole Sapporo ended with two 0-0 draws.

 

J.LEAGUE News

2020 MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE rescheduled

J.LEAGUE announced the rescheduled dates for the 2020 MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE after the AFC Champions League 2020 (AFC 2020) schedule was confirmed. The matches rescheduled are as below.

■Matches rescheduled in the 2020 MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE 

Sec. Date KO Fixture Venue Broadcasting
(domestic)
before new
24th Saturday
24 October
or
Sunday
25 October
Wednesday
16 September
TBA F.C. Tokyo vs Oita Trinita TBA DAZN
Wednesday
16 September
TBA Yokohama F・Marinos vs Shimizu S-pulse TBA DAZN
Wednesday
26 August
19:00 Vissel Kobe vs Kawasaki Frontale NOEVIR.S DAZN
25th Saturday
31 October
Wednesday
11 November
TBA Kawasaki Frontale vs F.C. Tokyo TBA DAZN
Saturday
31 October
Wednesday
30 September
TBA Yokohama F・Marinos vs Sagan Tosu TBA DAZN
Saturday
31 October
Wednesday
16 September
TBA Vissel Kobe vs Cerezo Osaka TBA DAZN
26th Tuesday
3 November
Wednesday
26 August
19:00 F.C. Tokyo vs Kashima Antlers Ajinomoto DAZN
Tuesday
3 November
Wednesday
11 November
TBA Shonan Bellmare vs Yokohama F・Marinos TBA DAZN
Tuesday
3 November
Wednesday
11 November
TBA Shimizu S-pulse vs Vissel Kobe TBA DAZN
29th Wednesday
25 November
Wednesday
30 September
TBA Urawa Reds vs F.C. Tokyo TBA DAZN
Wednesday
25 November
Wednesday
26 August
TBA Yokohama F・Marinos vs Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo Nissan.S DAZN
Wednesday
25 November
Wednesday
30 September
TBA Vissel Kobe vs Nagoya Grampus TBA DAZN

*Schedules may change if there is a further change to the ACL 2020 schedule due to the spread of COVID-19.

Furthermore, matches below may be rescheduled if the participating club in the ACL 2020 makes it to the quarter-finals.

■Matches possible to be rescheduled in the 2020 MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE

Sec. Date KO Fixture Venue Broadcasting
(domestic)
30th Saturday
28 November
or
Sunday
29 November
※1
TBA Vegalta Sendai vs Vissel Kobe TBA DAZN
Saturday
28 November
or
Sunday
29 November
※2
TBA F.C. Tokyo vs Kashiwa Reysol TBA DAZN
Saturday
28 November
or
Sunday
29 November
※2
TBA Kawasaki Frontale vs Yokohama F・Marinos TBA DAZN
31th Saturday
5 December
or
Sunday
6 December
※3
TBA F.C. Tokyo vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima TBA DAZN
Saturday
5 December
or
Sunday
6 December
※1
TBA Yokohama F・Marinos vs Kashima Antlers TBA DAZN
Saturday
5 December
or
Sunday
6 December
※2
TBA Vissel Kobe vs Urawa Reds TBA DAZN

※1 May reschedule to Tuesday 1 December if the participating club in the ACL 2020 makes it to the quarter-finals.
※2 May reschedule to Wednesday 18 November if the participating club in the ACL 2020 makes it to the quarter-finals.
※3 May reschedule to another date if the participating club in the ACL 2020 makes it to the quarter-finals.

 

J1 LEAGUE

Meiji Yasuda J1 League, Match-day 4 Preview – Fans finally back to the stadium as Cerezo want to continue their booming start, and Antlers try to end their losing streak

MEIJI YASUDA J1 League Match-day 4 will be held this weekend, welcoming back fans to the stadium with a cap of 5,000 spectators or 50% of the capacity. After experiencing games played behind closed doors, this is the day all the fans and players have been looking forward to.

Cerezo Osaka, the only team that won all three matches of this 2020 campaign so far, will host Nagoya Grampus. The home side defeated Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 in the last round, and their defense has conceded only one goal so far. Hiroaki Okuno, who scored in two consecutive matches, is the player to watch. Nagoya are eager to pick up points against the league leaders after they drew with Gamba Osaka last Wednesday, giving away their lead during the additional time.

Second-place Kawasaki Frontale are in high spirits after topping FC Tokyo 4-0 and will meet Kashiwa Reysol at home. Expectations are high for Tastuya Hasegawa, who scored three goals in the last two games. Meanwhile, Kashiwa come from losing two matches in a row after the restart of the league. Although there is not much time for intense training, they need to improve their defense that conceded three goals against Yokohama FC.

Oita Trinita and Vissel Kobe as well have only two days to prepare, but both are in a good mood after picking up three points from the mid-week fixture. Oita want to take advantage of the momentum gained by beating Sanfrecce Hiroshima with a great comeback, while Vissel Kobe still need to find the optimal way to utilize Andres Iniesta, who played almost the entire match against Sagan Tosu.

Third-place Urawa Reds will face Kashima Antlers at home. They are still undefeated after beating Vegalta Sendai in the previous match with the goals by Leonardo and Shinzo Koroki. Since Koroki came in as a substitute, he should be ready to play an important role against his former team. Kashima lost 2-0 to Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, and they are at the bottom of the table with three consecutive defeats. They are showing problems in the attacking department as they have only scored once so far this season, and through an own-goal! Offensive players, including Shoma Doi, need to step up to get the team out of this tough situation.

Shimizu S-Pulse also try to end their three-game losing streak at home against Gamba Osaka. On Wednesday, they deservedly suffered a defeat against Cerezo, and manager Peter Cklamovski needs to think something to improve his team’s form. For Gamba Osaka, veteran striker Kazuma Watanabe, who scored a precious equalizer in the dying moments of the previous match, could once again be an important asset this weekend.

Shonan Bellmare are the other team that lost the first three matches, but they gave a hard time to defending champions Yokohama F.Marinos. Toichi Suzuki displayed an impressive performance and could be a key player. After losing badly in the opener, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo jumped up to the sixth place with two wins in a row, but there is concern over striker Musashi Suzuki’s injury and it is to be seen if his substitute can fill his shoes.

Yokohama FC will face Vegalta Sendai, hoping to continue pocketing points after the good performance that led to their first win. 18-year-old attacker Koki Saito, who scored the team’s first goal against Kashiwa, deserves all the attention. Sendai, on the other hand, suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of Urawa. However, there were good news as well, one of the positive aspects being new signing Hiroto Yamada’s goal.

Sagan Tosu lost the two matches after the restart of the league and have not scored any goal yet in 2020. Experienced striker Yohei Toyoda is expected to try to lead the team to better results. Their opponents Sanfrecce Hiroshima suffered their first defeat this week against Oita, and they need to learn how to “kill the game” when dominating in order to avoid repeating the same mistake.

Finally, one of the biggest matches of this weekend is the clash between last year’s top two teams, Yokohama F.Marinos and FC Tokyo. Reigning champions F.Marinos seized their first win this week, beating Shonan. Jun Amano, who scored two decisive goals, could make a difference again. Meanwhile, FC Tokyo lost badly in the “Tamagawa Clasico” versus Kawasaki. Manager Kenta Hasegawa needs to make-work out a quick improvement to get the team back on track. This will be the last game for Kento Hashimoto in the FC Tokyo shirt before he moves to Russia.

 

J1 LEAGUE

Cerezo Osaka win third in a row, Kawasaki Frontale claim Tamagawa classico by 4-0

Meiji Yasuda J1 League Match-day 3 took place on July 8.

Cerezo defeated Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 at home, as Hiroaki Okuno scored in the 71st minute and Eiichi Katayama added another in the 85th. With this result, the Osaka team sits lonely at the top, while Shimizu lost their third in a row and are at the other end of the table. Sanfrecce Hiroshima met Oita Trinita at home. Despite Leandro Pereira finding the net early in the game, they conceded two goals in the dying minutes and lost their first match of the season.

FC Tokyo experienced a big home defeat at the hands of Kawasaki Frontale in the Tamagawa classico. They conceded a goal by Ryota Oshima in the 17th minute, then succumbed to Leandro Damiao and Tatsuya Hasegawa’s brace. Tokyo tried to reverse the situation in the second half, but their efforts were useless.

Reigning champions Yokohama F.Marinos finally grabbed their first win of the season against Shonan Bellmare at home. Even though they conceded in the 52nd minute, F.Marinos recovered thanks to Jun Amano’s double. Again they gave away a goal afterward, but Onaiu Ado netted the winning-goal in the 87th. Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo won at Kashima Antlers with goals coming from Musashi Suzuki and Lucas Fernandes. Kashima again failed to pick up the first point of the season and share with Shimizu the bottom of the table.

Urawa Reds traveled to Vegalta Sendai. They took the lead in the last-minute of the first half through Leonardo’s goal. Although Urawa conceded one, it was Shinzo Koroki who won it in the 83rd minute. Reds have now seven points in the table. Yokohama FC earned their first three points of 2020 against Kashiwa Reysol.

Nagoya Grampus hosted Gamba Osaka. Again they conceded early into the game, but came from behind with goals by Mateus and Gabriel Xavier. Then, in the last minute of the match, Gamba striker Kazuma Watanabe found the net to make it 2-2. Finally, Vissel Kobe topped Sagan Tosu 1-0 with a goal scored by Douglas in the 75th minute.

 

J1 LEAGUE

Meiji Yasuda J1 League, Matchday 3 - Preview. Table leader Sanfrecce Hiroshima, await Oita Trinita at home, F.C. Tokyo aim to make it three in a row by prevailing in the “Tamagawa Classico”

Match-day 3 will be held on Wednesday, July 8, and with games every three days, the demand will be high on players and managers.

Hiroshima, who are on top of the table after two convincing victories, will meet Oita at home. Sanfrecce have scored six goals through astonishing offensive plays, while their defense has kept two clean sheets. Expectations are high for Leandro Pereira, who scored two goals in the previous match at Kobe. Oita, on the other hand, come from a 2-0 victory over Tosu, and scorer Tatsuya Tanaka is their key-player. 

FC Tokyo who have also won two games in a row, will meet Kawasaki Frontale in the “Tamagawa Classico”. Diego Oliveira's injury is a concern, but Leandro and Adailton are in good form. Substitute player Shuto Abe is likely to support the attack. On the other side of the river, Kawasaki have defeated Kashima in the previous match for their first victory of the season. Will their three-top be capable to surprise FC Tokyo’s solid defense?

Cerezo Osaka is the third club coming from two victories in the opening games. In the previous match, they won the Osaka derby against Gamba and now hope to take advantage of their momentum. Hiroshi Kiyotake, who showed a sharp performance in the derby, is expected again to be a crucial player this week. Shimizu S-Pulse, on the other hand, lost both games so far, and are in desperate need to grab their first points.

Defending champions Yokohama F.Marinos will host Shonan Bellmare. Yokohama have not won any of the two early games, their attacking scoring only one goal so far. Can last season’s MVP Teruhito Nakagawa outsmart Shonan’s strong vigilance? Bellmare lost their opening two games, and will need a perfect performance to get something out of this match.

Kashima as well have surprisingly lost their opening two games, and will host Sapporo. As they are willing to implement a new style under the manager Zago, they badly need a good result. Youngsters such as Itsuki Someno might provide the necessary freshness. Consadole Sapporo obtained their first win against Yokohama FC in the previous match. Musashi Suzuki, who has scored three goals in two games so far, might play an important role this time as well. 

Vegalta will receive the visit of Urawa Reds. In the previous match, they Sendai team defeated Shonan with an early goal. How will manager Takuma Nishimura make use of his skillfull attackers, such as Germain Ryo and Takuma Nishimura? Urawa Reds drew with Yokohama F.Marinos in the previous game. Despite often being under pressure, defenders kept their concentration and managed to get through without conceding a goal. Goalkeeper, Shusaku Nishikawa's performance will be once again very importantfor his team. 

Kashiwa Reysol lost to FC Tokyo in the previous match. The Absence of Cristiano, prevented their attack to perform as hoped. Even so, their new players, including midfielder Yuta Kamiya, have shown glimpses of their skills, and their work can be essential to prevent consecutive defeats. Yokohama FC lost to Sapporo in the previous match, in which Kazunari Ichimi scored his first goal. Manager Takahiro Shimodaira, will aim for his first win after being promoted to J1 in his return to Kashiwa, where he has been both a player and a manager at Reysol.

Sagan Tosu will host Kobe after scoring no goals and as a result not winning any of the two opening games. They boost good defensive stability, but need to improve up front. Vissel Kobe as well are still without a victory. In the previous match, they lost 3-0 at home to Hiroshima. However, they did enjoy possession for most of the game, meaning they need to be better at making use of that. 

Finally, Nagoya Grampus will meet Gamba Osaka at home. In the previous match, they came back to top Shimizu S-Pulse and are now in high spirits. However, they will have to be cautious in the opening phases of the match, since they conceded early goals in both games played so far. Gamba Osaka narrowly lost to their crosstown rival Cerezo in the previous match. Takashi Usami could not show his best football yet and hopes to open his account for the season in this important match.

 

J1 LEAGUE

Sanfrecce Hiroshima win second in a row while Cerezo claims Osaka derby

Meiji Yasuda J1 League Match-day 2 of took place on July 4, as the league restarted after four months of interruption.

Hiroshima, who had previously defeated Kashima Antlers on the opening match in February, topped Vissel Kobe 3-0 away. Sanfrecce took the lead in the 35th minute with Leandro Pereira’s goal, then Yuya Asano made it 2-0 early in the second half. The Brazilian struck again in the 81st minute to seal a convincing second consecutive victory.

FC Tokyo bagged three points away at Kashiwa Reysol, thanks to the sole goal by Tsuyoshi Watanabe in the 62nd minute, while Cerezo won the Osaka derby against Gamba 2-1, courtesy of goals by Hiroaki Okuno and Yusuke Maruhashi. Both winners as well now have six points in the table.

Kawasaki Frontale defeated Kashima Antlers 2-1 at home. Shogo Taniguchi scored early in the game and Tatsuya Hasegawa extended the lead in the 30th minute. Although they conceded a goal right afterwards, Frontale defended well and grabbed their first win of the season.  Reigning champions Yokohama F.Marinos again failed to pick up the first three points of the season as they could only manage a goalless draw at Urawa Reds.

Hokkkaido Consadole Sapporo traveled to Yokoahama FC, where Musashi Suzuki found the net only three minutes after the kick-off and scored again in the 53rd minute. In between, Yokohama FC had equalized, but the visitors returned home with a 2-1 win. Nagoya Grampus came from behind with Yuki Saito’s goal in the 32nd minute and an own goal in the 40th minute to beat Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1.

Finally, Tatsuya Tanaka’s brace helped Oita Tinita beat Sagan Tosu 2-0, while Vegalta Sendai defeated Shonan Bellmare 1-0 with Ryo Germain’s goal in the 3rd minute.

 

J1 LEAGUE

Urawa brings the challenge to the defending champion! / J1 Restart Preview

Urawa finished 14th last season, but they defeated Shonan 3-2 in the opening match of 2020.  By switching their defensive line from three to four, their aggressiveness increased and there already came three goals. Reds were troubled by a lack of scoring ability in 2019, so they organized for a more aggressive style this season. The focus is on new member Leonardo. Last season's J2 top scorer also netted a goal in the opening match, proving already that he can do well in J1. Has Shinzo Kouroki finally found his perfect attacking partner?  
 
Meanwhile, defending champion Yokohama F.Marinos, lost to Gamba Osaka in this season’s opening match. They struggled against Gamba's quick, reactive football, as they were attacked when using a high defensive line and their passes were intercepted during the build-up. Since Urawa are expected to play with a style similar to Gamba, F.Marinos will have to do be more attentive, and at the same time, better attacking quality will be required. 

 

J1 LEAGUE

Will newly-promoted Kashiwa Reysol be the “Giant killers”? / J1 Restart Preview

Kashiwa, who overwhelmingly won last season's J2, kept their momentum in the opening match and defeated Sapporo 4-2. Olunga was the main threat for the opponents. He contributed greatly to the victory with two goals and one assist, and the attacking trio completed by Cristiano and Esaka is one of the most threatening in the league. On the other hand, they showed some tiredness and disorganization by the end of the game and conceded two goals, something they will try not to repeat.

FC Tokyo topped Shimizu 3-1 in the opening match.  They too display a top attacking trio, this time formed by three Brazilians: Diego Oliveira, Adailton, and Leandro.  Building on their last season's counter-attacking style, which took them to the second place, FC Tokyo aim to further enhance their scoring ability and win the championship for the first time. The growth of young players such as Kazuya Konno is also an essential factor in achieving their dream. 

 

J1 LEAGUE

Frontale’s hyper-aggressive football versus Antlers’ new wave / J1 Restart Preview

In the past season, Kawasaki Frontale, hoped to win their third consecutive title, but disappointingly finished only in fourth place. This year, as they are trying to regain the champion’s crown, there has been no major reinforcement, but rather a switch in their system to a more aggressive 4-3-3. However, in the opening match they ended up with a scoreless draw with Tosu. They did create several chances, so the problem lies with the quality of their finishing. Unfortunately for them, Yu Kobayashi picked an injury during the suspension period, so the awakening of Leandro Damião and rookie Hatate Reo is a must.  
 
Kashima, on the other hand, unusually ended the 2019 season with no titles. Despite changes in players and play-style under new manager Zago, they were soundly beaten 3-0 by Hiroshima in the opening match. The new tactics did not seem to work, and the new players could not show their best performance. After such a difficult start, the manager and players now had time to work on their new breed of football, and expectations are high for this match.

 

J1 LEAGUE

More “Shonan-style” will be needed to overcome tenacious Sendai / J1 Restart Preview

In 2019, Shonan managed to survive through the relegation playoffs. Although expected to be facing a difficult season, as many of the core players have left, in the opening match, the team showed an encouraging revival of their famous “Shonan Style.”  Despite losing 3-2 to Urawa, they gave Urawa Reds a hard time.  New signings gave positive impressions: Naoki Ishihara scored a goal, while Fukuda Akito and Oiwa Kazuki also supported the team with their dedication. It showed the hope in the future.  
 
Sendai, on the other hand, started the season under new manager Takashi Kiyama. In the opening match, they drew 1-1 with Nagoya. It was a tough game, but they their tenacious defense held on and earned them one point. However, the team seems to have a problem up front, and it is good for the that Takuma Nishimura returned to action during the suspension period and is available. There are indeed great expectations for this young striker who returned from Europe. 

 

J1 LEAGUE

Dreams of glory for superstar loaded Kobe and steady Hiroshima / J1 Restart Preview

Kobe won the 2019 Emperor's Cup and are among the top contenders for this season's championship, but only managed to draw 1-1 against a sturdy Yokohama FC in the opening match. However, Andres Iniesta-led attacking style is still alive and kicking, and striker Furuhashi, has produced immediate results. Newcomer Douglas is also a forward with a good record, and it is expected to maximize his contribution at Vissel. With the rise of young players such as Yuta Goya, Vissel Kobe can cherish the dream of winning the league.  
 
On the other hand, Hiroshima is steady as ever under manager Jofuku Hiroshi, who is now in his third year at Sanfrecce. In the opening match, they were off to a great start, knocking down Kashima 3-0, and allegedly solving their scoring issues from the past season. The key player is Tsukasa Morishima, who now wears the No.10 jersey. The “young commander," who also scored a goal in the opening match, has the potential to lead the team to the title race. 

 

J1 LEAGUE

After more than four months of break, J1 finally returns! Can champions Yokohama F.Marinos claim first victory of the season over Urawa? [Preview: Meiji Yasuda J1 League Matchday 2]

The 2020 season of Meiji Yasuda J1 League was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic shortly after the opening day, on February 21. More than four months later, it is finally time to restart. The first matches will show how each team make use of the break and how their season will shape up.

Defending champions Yokohama F.Marinos, who were defeated by Gamba Osaka in the opening match, will meet Urawa Reds away. Expectations are high for Ado Onaiwu and the other attackers. Meanwhile, Urawa, who have beaten Shonan Bellmare 3-2 in the opener, put their faith in new striker Leonardo, who is expected to play an important role this week as well.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who currently sit at the top of the table after beating Kashima Antlers 3-0, will travel to face Vissel Kobe. While young players such as Tsukasa Morisaki showed continued improvement following a breakthrough season last year, new attackers Douglas Vieira and Leandro Pereira also impressed positively. As their defense led by Keisuke Osako is very solid, winning two in a row seems like a realistic goal. Their opponents, Vissel Kobe, drew with Yokohama FC in February. Thanks to Andrés Iniesta, they were creating a fair amount of chances, but as they scored only once, clearly it is the quality of finishing needs to be improved. The team’s first scorer of the season Kyogo Furuhashi, joined by Douglas (who faces his former club) could be key players.

Newly promoted Kashiwa Reysol host FC Tokyo after comfortably beating Consadole Sapporo on the opening day. While the four goals against Sapporo proved that their attacking trio of Olunga, Ataru Esaka and Cristiano is one the most powerful combo in the league, Nelsinho might need to improve the defensive package, that conceded two goals late in the game. FC Tokyo also has three points from topping Shimizu S-Pulse 3-1. Brazilian trio Diego Oliveria, Adailton and Leandro all scored, and their performance could directly influence the outcome of this match as well.

Another promoted side, Yokohama FC, await Consadole Sapporo at home. They showed focused defense against powerful Vissel Kobe on the last match-day and snatched a precious 1-1 draw away. To seize the first win of the season, it is essential that both youngsters, such as Itsuki Seko, and veterans, such as Shunsuke Nakamura, display a top performance. Sapporo started the season with a defeat against Kashiwa Reysol. Although they need to work on their defense which conceded four, they created many chances toward the end of the game. They are counting on their attack-minded football to try to get the first three points.

The Osaka derby between Gamba Osaka and Cerezo Osaka is one of the most interesting matches of the week. Gamba topped defending champions Yokohama F.Marinos by smartly taking advantage of their weakness. Meanwhile, Cerezo also have won the first game, beating Oita 1-0. Last season’s best defense in the league will try to keep a clean sheet for the second match in a row. Beyond their rivalry, it could be a big game for Gamba’s Yasuhito Endo. If he makes an appearance, we will witness a historic moment of him breaking the J1 appearance record with 632 matches.

Shimizu S-Pulse will host Nagoya Grampus. Although they lost to FC Tokyo in February, Peter Cklamovski’s new style of football could be seen and new signing Teerasil Dangda was in a fine form. The visiting team drew 1-1 with Vegalta Sendai, but overall left a positive impression, with new attacker Hiroyuki Abe scoring a goal. Strikers, such as like Ryogo Yamasaki, need to step up to replace Jô who left the club during the break.

Oita Trinita will face Sagan Tosu at home. In the opening match, they could not beat Cerezo’s defense and lost 1-0. Since they had more shots than the opponents, the quality of finishing could be important. New signing Kei Chinen might be able to solve that problem. Tosu picked up a point away from home thanks to a goalless draw with Kawasaki. The team plays well-organized football under manager Kim Myung-hwi. While young players like Fuchi Honda and Daiki Matsuoka are developing quickly, the veteran duo of Ryang Yong-gi and Yohei Toyoda brings a positive mentality to the team.

Kawasaki Frontale, who want to win back the title this season, will meet Kashima Antlers at home. As poor finishing led to a draw versus Tosu and Yu Kobayashi is unavailable due to injury, strong performance from Leandro Damião might be needed for the first three points of the season. Kashima lost 3-0 to Hiroshima. The break was a good opportunity to improve the team because the squad went through a drastic makeover under new manager Zago this year. The work of the experienced manager is a key for their comeback.

Shonan Bellmare welcome Vegalta Sendai to their home stadium. Although they lost to Urawa, their tireless performance suggested a comeback of the “Shonan Style” football. With new signings Naoki Ishihara and Akito Fukuta already working well with the rest of the team, we can expect another aggressive display. Sendai drew 1-1 with Nagoya. Their star players Simão Mate is injured, and Takuma Nishimura who returned to the club during the break will lead their attack.

 

 

J1 LEAGUE

Restart with a derby! Who rules Osaka? / J1 Restart Preview

The only derby of the second match-day will certainly be an exciting battle, even if played behind closed doors. Gamba Osaka should still have momentum after beating defending champions Yokohama F.Marinos in the opening match. While they display great attacking talents such as Takashi Usami and Ademilson, their defense was also reinforced by the signing of Gen Shoji. Winning the first two games of the season would be a huge boost for them.

Cerezo Osaka also earned three points in the first match, by beating Oita Trinita. Since their solid defense that supported their fine form last season is still intact, their battle against Gamba’s attackers will be an important factor in this match. Up front, Tatsuhiro Sakamoto’s dribbling could be a key. Gamba lead in the head-to-head record by 23 wins, 5 draws and 10 defeats, but they each won a derby last season. Which team will snatch the derby and be king of Osaka this time?

 

J1 LEAGUE

Last year’s dark horse Oita meet young Tosu / J1 Restart Preview

After a sensational season in 2019, in which, following a promotion J1, they finished ninth, Oita Trinita will try to move up even further this year by brushing up their passing game. They failed to beat Cerezo’s defense and were defeated 1-0 on the opening day, but in that match they created several chances, therefore improving the quality of finishing will be important. Expectations are high for new striker Kei Chinen.

Meanwhile, Sagan Tosu had a goalless draw with Kawasaki Frontale. Although the opponents often dominated the game, Tosu’s defense was very attentive and did not concede any goal. Mu Kanazaki’s leaving to Nagoya during the break could leave a hole in the squad, but young players such as Fuchi Honda and Daiki Matsuoka are developing quickly. If the new three-top attacking squad works well, Sagan could be a positive surprise this season.

 

J1 LEAGUE

Can Shimizu’s new style of football shine against Nagoya? / J1 Restart Preview

This year’s Shimizu S-Pulse adopted a more attacking style of football under former Yokohama F.Marinos’ assistant coach Peter Cklamovski. They took the lead in the opening match, but conceded goals toward the end of the game and ended up losing 3-1 to FC Tokyo. Still, a few good moments of the new manager’s football could be spotted, and now they had time to work on the new tactics during the break. New signing Teerasil Dangda already scored his first goal on the opening day, and the team could gain big momentum if they get the first three points of the season.

Nagoya Grampus drew 1-1 against Vegalta Sendai on the first match-day of 2020. New signing Hiroyuki Abe scored the equalizer, and they were the dominant side for the rest of the game. Under Massimo Ficcadenti, who took charge during the past season and helped the team avoid relegation, Nagoya are this year adopting a more aggressive kind of football. Since Brazilian striker Jô left during the break, other attackers will have to step up.

 

J1 LEAGUE

53-year-old Kazu to make J1 appearance? Yokohama FC face Sapporo’s attacking football / J1 Restart Preview

Upon returning to J1 for the first time in 13 years, Yokohama FC met Vissel Kobe in the opening match of this season. Their lead, obtained through Tatsuki Seko’s goal was cancelled out later, but resulted in a 1-1 draw against the Emperor’s Cup winners. While Yokohama FC feature many youngsters playing in the Japanese top flight for the first time, they are supported by experienced stars such as Kazuyoshi Miura, Shunsuke Nakamura and Daisuke Matsui. They aim to seize the first victory of the season through their solid defense and speedy attacks from the flanks.

Sapporo were defeated 4-2 by Kashiwa Reysol on the opening day. They were vulnerable especially in the first half, when conceded easily. However, in the second half they showed improvement, which led to goals by Takuma Arano and Musashi Suzuki. Although they did not bring in any major reinforcement, the foundation of their passing football built in the past two years under Petrovic still seems very solid, and their attack-minded style is unchanged.

 

J1 LEAGUE

J.League returns on July 4! Introduction to all teams and their key players — Oita Trinita

・Team
The past season was the first year back in the first division for Oita, they took advantage of the momentum after defeating Kashima in the opening match and even joined the title race. Although they slowed down after the summer, they still achieved a remarkable 9th place. 

Katanosaka Tomohiro, the manager who now led Oita Trinita for four seasons, will continue with his possession style of football, this season with 3-4-2-1. Players, including the goalkeeper, move the ball from behind, and the whole team run into space at once. The five-men defensive line remains strong and stable. 

This season, Oita features several talented attackers, such as Chinen Kei, and aim to solve the lack of scoring ability that was a problem last season. In the opening match, they failed to break Cerezo Osaka's solid defense and lost 1-0, but they were well ahead in the number of shots. Improving scoring ability is the key to further chances to join the title race. 

・Key player
Tomoki Iwata
Iwata is a “Tokyo Olympics generation player” that Oita is particularly proud of. He plays as one of the three central defenders and has absolute confidence in one-v-one duels thanks to his speed. Although he is relatively small, he is strong in the air as well. His bold overlaps could also be a big weapon, and he scored four goals in the past season. 

・New signing
Kei Chinen
An Okinawan striker featuring strong physicality, Chinen is expected to be the main source of goals at Oita in 2020. During his time in Kawasaki, he was a jack-of-all-trades and contributed to Frontale winning the championship twice. He is capable of powerful shots, while his skill at holding the ball up front as well can result in scoring chances for Oita Trinita.

 

 

J1 LEAGUE

J.League returns on July 4! Introduction to all teams and their key players — Sagan Tosu

・Team
In 2019, Tosu decided to dismiss manager Lluís Carreras already in May, after a disastrous start of the season. The team managed to improve their form under Kim Myung-hwi and in the end barely avoided relegation by finishing in the 15th Spot.
Kim remained in charge for the 2020 season and adopted a 4-3-3 system in order to play more offensive football. Tosu’s young squad, featuring developing youngsters like Daiki Matsuoka and Fuchi Honda, was reinforced by many signings, including Tomoya Koyamatsu, a player who boasts a speedy dribbling.
Sagan have a lot of potential, in fact, they drew 0-0 with Kawasaki Frontale in the opening match, showing solid defense, while also creating some good chances. Although it is a blow that Mu Kanazaki moved to Nagoya Grampus during the break, experienced striker Yohei Toyota and Tiago Alves are expected to fill his shoes.

・Key Player
Riki Harakawa
This is the fourth season at Tosu for the skillful midfielder, who has been a hot prospect since a young age and took part in the 2016 Olympics. Improving as he gains more experience, he controls the game with his accurate passes and also often scores through his powerful free-kicks.

・New Signing
Eduardo 
The tall Brazilian center back first came to Japan in 2013. After playing for Gainare Tottori, Tochigi SC, Kashiwa Reysol, Kawasaki Frontale and then Matsumoto Yamaga, he joined Tosu this season. He combines excellent aerial strength and skill with precise long-range passes.

 

J1 LEAGUE

J.League returns on July 4! Introduction to all teams and their key players — Sanfrecce Hiroshima

・Team
Hiroshima had a positive season last year, finishing sixth thanks to their possession football, a well-oiled 3-4-2-1 system and young players such as Tsukasa Morishima, Hayao Kawabe and Keisuke Osako who all showed great improvement. However, there were a few games they failed to win due to lack of finishing quality, and that is where they need improvement in order to be serious challengers for the title this season.

As often, Sanfrecce were quiet in the transfer market and there were no major changes to the squad, thus young players will need to step up and play a more important role. The performance of Leandro Pereira, who joined the team in the middle of last season, could be also a key to determine the team’s results.

Hiroshima have beaten Kashima Antlers 3-0 in the opening match. The front three of Leandro Pereira, Douglas Vieira and Morishima all scored a goal, and the defence was very solid. They would want to keep up momentum as they return to the field.

・Key Player
Toshihiro Aoyama
Aoyama is one of the best Japanese holding midfielders and provides high-quality lateral and vertical passes. He suffered because of injuries during the past season, but he is in a fine condition this year.

・New Signing
Ezequiel
A Brazilian attacker with great speed and technique. Although he is only 167 cm tall, he overwhelms the opponents with skilful dribbling, and he is capable to unleash sharp shots. His natural position is attacking midfielder, but he is expected to play as a winger, to take advantage of his ability of pushing forward.