Sunday, 14 February 2010

2010 J1 Previews, pt 1

What's that? You thought I was going to let Agent Orange do the 2010 previews all on his own? If only. In no particular order (actually a curious type of alphabetical order, but let's not get distracted by unimportant detail), here are the first half-dozen.

Cerezo Osaka

Last season 2nd J2

Ahead of their first J1 campaign since 2006 the Cherries look about the best-prepared of the three promoted sides, having brought in (among others) three players from Oita Trinita and two from Gamba Osaka, together with a couple of new Brazilians. That ought to see them avoid getting involved in any serious relegation trouble and indeed, coach Levir Culpi may seek to draw inspiration from Sanfrecce Hiroshima, a similarly attacking team who last year performed impressively after promotion.

Predict-o-tron Mid-table

FC Tokyo

Last season 5th J1

It's been a less-than-thrilling close season for Tokyo fans, Albirex Niigata midfielder Toshihiro Matsushita and promising young Oita Trinita defender Masato Morishige looking like the signings most likely to appear in the first team. Striker Ricardinho is only 21 and it could be that the team will look to new international striker Sota Hirayama for more goals this year than he's previously been able to manage. Or will Naohiro Ishikawa be able to reproduce his sensational scoring form of last year?

Predict-o-tron Top half, maybe; top four, no

Gamba Osaka

Last season 3rd J1

Is Gamba coach Akira Nishino interested solely in the attacking part of his team? Maybe; he's now got four Brazilian strikers, including new signings Dodo - a teenager most recently at Ehime FC - and Ze Carlos, who scored the winner in the ACL Final while at Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. But the question is, will the Blue and Blacks' attack be better than Kashima Antlers' defence? Well, at the end of last season Kashima crushed them 5-1 to extinguish Gamba's hopes of winning the title. Hmmm.

Predict-o-tron Top four

Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Last season 4th J1

Hiroshima did brilliantly last year in what was their first season back in J1 after promotion. 2010 will see Sanfrecce participate in the ACL and they will do so without Urawa Reds-bound starlet Yosuke Kashiwagi. Most of the close-season attention, though, has been on the club's chasing of Oita Trinita keeper Shusaku Nishikawa, which while all well and good doesn't address questions like how they will cope with the demands of a tough league and ACL season - especially if goal king Hisato Sato gets injured.

Predict-o-tron Oooh... same as Tokyo

Jubilo Iwata

Last season 11th J1

Good God! Despite a mid-table finish, Jubilo had the worst defence in J1 last year, conceding sixty goals. They've brought in a couple of Koreans to try and sort things out, including Park Joo Ho from Kashima Antlers, but in some respects the attention has to be on the forwards who saved them in 2009: will Lee Keun Ho and Ryoichi Maeda really be able to repeat their impressive scoring record? If they don't, will incoming Mito Hollyhock club legend Tomoyuki Arata be the man to save them?

Predict-o-tron Bottom third

Kashima Antlers

Last season 1st J1

Is anyone betting against the Antlers picking up what would be a fourth consecutive J1 title? The best defence in the J-League has been strengthened yet further by the arrival from Kyoto Sanga of South Korean international Lee Jung Soo and from Albirex Niigata of wingback Gilton. A possible weak link might be the number of goals Kashima score, given that Marquinhos will be 34 soon and managed only eleven from open play last year. But it looks like they'll still be the team to beat.

Predict-o-tron Top two



  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP