Thursday, December 27, 2007

Transfer updates

GK Daisuke Tada have transferred from Cerezo to J2 rivals Ehime FC. Tada's best season by far for Cerezo were 2003, where he played a total of 20 matches. Actually that was Cerezo's first season in J1 in which they finished a decent 9th. The former U-19 and U-23 GK only played 24 matches for Cerezo. Best of luck to him at Ehime, where he will probably see more regular playing time than what he saw in Cerezo.

Another player who's left is Daisuke Yoneyama. He's been ona year-long rental to Tsagen Kanazawa, and recently made his move permanent. The compact midfielder were a frequent starter in 2004/2005, and got a total of 16 matches and 2 goals for Cerezo.

Ryuhei Niwa, who belongs to Vissel Kobe, extended his loan-spell at Cerezo until February 2009. Niwa played 23 matches for us last season and did a solid job from his left-back position when Ze Carlos were out with suspension or injuries. Niwa were a regular starter for Vissel, and with Ze Carlos gone, he will probably receive more playing time next season.

MF Takuya Miyamoto has been rented out to J2 rivals Montedio Yamagata for the next season. The little playmaker were somewhat surprisingly involved in a total of 28 matches last season, and usually did a solid job. However, with the introduction of Germano to the club, Miyamoto were showed out of the starting lineup and became a bench-warmer instead. Personally I rate Miyamoto only as a back-up player, and he probably won't be the biggest loss. He will most likely be a regular at Montedio though, and might gain some useful experience there. Best of luck to him.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

Friday, December 21, 2007


Tatsuya Furuhashi underwent surgery on his right foot today, and will be sidelined for 6 weeks. That still gives him plenty of time to get match-fit ahead of the 2008 season opener. Still no news on whether or not Furuhashi will stay at Cerezo though.

Ryuichi Dogaki (19) were released by Cerezo today, and will return to his University Kwansei Gakuin. Dogaki has been a member of U-16,U-17 and the U-18 NT, but didn't really manage to make an impact at Cerezo. Dogaki ended his Cerezo career with just 1 match under his belt. Good luck to him in the future.

For our female readers I can report that Cerezo is arranging "Osaka women's soccer clinic participation hope in January 2008". It's free of charge and will be held on Saturday the 19th of January at 12:00. More info to be found at Cerezo's official pages.

Finally, Shinji Kagawa has been called up to the U-19 National Team for the Qatar tournament which is held from the 15th to the 31st of January. Kagawa had to drop out of the previous training camp, so he's looking forward to "making an impact" as quoted by Cerezo's Official site.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Furuhashi to Gamba?!

Ze Carlos is already gone, will Furuhashi be the next man out?

According to Nikkan Sports Osaka, Gamba have made an offer of 200 Million Yen for our ace striker Tatsuya Furuhashi. However, Cerezo stated earlier that they won't sell him for less than 330 Million Yen, so nothing's decided yet.

With Magno Alves already gone, only Ryuji Bando and Bare worth mentioning are left in the Gamba attack. Both are highly rated, and it's not certain Furuhashi would receive as much playing time as he would want to, so it might not be the best move. Gamba are seemingly in line for FC Tokyo's veteran FW Lucas as well. However, Furuhashi is just as good as an offensive midfielder, and could very well knock Futagawa or Hashimoto out of the squad.

Albirex Niigata and Urawa Reds have also eyed the versatile striker, and could snap him in front of Gamba. The best thing would of course be if Furuhashi decided to stay in southern Osaka :)

(Thanks to SMB of the Tokyo Verdy blog for making me vary of it :) )

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cerezo News

Shinji Kagawa won the J2 Newcomer of the Year award held by J's Goal. Among the rookies in J2 this season, there's no doubt Kagawa was the most prominent one, as he turned out to be one of our most important players this season. Cerezo had 2 other players among the top 5, as Yasuhito Morishima ended 3rd and Yoichiro Kakitani 5th. I will say Cerezo are the most talented club in J2 now, and things look good for next season as the young starlets only will get better.

Cerezo had 2 players in the run for the J2 Most Important Player award as well. Shinji Kagawa ended 4th in that poll, with our topscorer Tatsuya Furuhashi in 7th.

Junya Yamashiro, who've been loaned out to Sagan Tosu this season made his move permanent a couple of days ago. Yamashiro only played one match for Cerezo back in 2004. He's rated at Tosu though, and played 29 matches last season. Good luck to him :)

No news about Tatsuya Furuhashi yet, which I guess is good for Cerezo. Alot of clubs have showed their interest in him, but Cerezo's prize tag is quite high, so any potential buyers might get scared away by that. Seemingly, Cerezo is offering him a new contract as well to try to keep him at the club.

As Ze Carlos left the club earlier this month, we now have one freeforeign spot. Rumours has it that Cerezo is considering bringing back korean FW Shin-Young Kim who like Yamashiro, were loaned out to Sagan Tosu. Kim notched up 7 goals in 29 matches for Tosu ( as well as 1 for Cerezo before he left), and could do a good job for us. However, I would have preferred if we bought a brazilian striker with a solid goalscoring record instead of bringing back Kim.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New faces

Hiroyuki Omata

Cerezo have brought in 2 new players during the day, DF Hiroyuki Omata from Shonan Bellmare. Omata played 31 matches last season, and will probably be a useful acquirement. Omata was a member of U-19 in 2002 and started his career with FC Tokyo. Omata got one match in J1 before he was loaned out to Shonan, which later turned into a permanent move. Omata have 78 matches under his belt and no goals.

We've brough in a new striker as well that plays for the U-19 team called Shiratani. Haven't found much info about him yet, but with so many forward talents in the club ( Kakitani, Morishima, Kokeguchi,Komatsu, Kim if he stays), as well as the replacement we'll most likely bring in for Furuhashi, Shiratani have a tough task breaking into the match squad.

Best of luck to both players!

Thank You Ze Carlos

Ze Carlos

That's the message on the offical Cerezo site, with the club and their fans thanking Ze Carlos for his contributions the 3 years he stayed at the club.

Ze Carlos was no doubt one of our most important players the last couple of seasons, with his best season being 2005, when we almost lifted the league trophy. During his time in Osaka, Ze Carlos played a total of 88 matches and notched up 16 goals. Not bad for a defensive midfielder/left back !

Ze Carlos & Tatsuya Furuhashi

Ze Carlos left Japan and Kansai Airport yesterday, where many fans turned up to pay their respect to the sympathic brazilian. Ze Carlos were quoted as saying he found it hard to leave Cerezo, and would love to go back sometime in the future.

As for Cerezo, it's a big loss. But Ryuhei Niwa stepped in for Ze Carlos on several occasions this season, and did a very good job. For example, in our last game vs Verdy, Niwa was arguably the man of the match, and also earned himself a place in J's Goal's Best Eleven in J2 that round.

Thanks again to Ze Carlos for his contributions, and best wishes for his future career!

Rumour Mill

Cerezo's 2 hotshots Shinji Kagawa and Yoichiro Kakitani both signed new contracts recently, which means we will see them in pink next year as well. Also, unless my translation got it wrong, Hiroaki Morishima signed under a new contract as well. Tetsuya Yamasaki has left the club, but since Yamasaki didn't receive any playing time at all this season it won't be a big loss. Yamasaki joined Cerezo in 2005, and got a total of 28 matches in '05 and '06. Best wishes to him with his future career.

Tatsuya Furuhashi on the other hand, seems to quit now, and several clubs have been linked with him. There was a rumour Urawa and Cerezo would do a swap-deal including Furuhashi and Washington, but that doesn't seem to be happening now. Albirex Niigata are the latest club declaring their interest for Furuhashi, and personally I think Furuhashi would fit better in a club like Albirex than Urawa. As Edmilson look bound for Urawa, Albirex needs a replacement and the Furuhashi/Kisho Yano combination up front next season for Albirex could cause trouble for most teams in J1.

No news yet on any potential new players for Cerezo, but we'll probably bring in a couple of re-inforcements eventually, and perhaps we'll see some fairly big names as well. Our brazilian contacts are great now, so it should be possible to bring in some names from there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cerezo's Player of The Year 2007

Cerezo's Unofficial Player of the Year Award goes to..... It's a tie!
Shinji Kagawa and Tatsuya Furuhashi both received 8 votes so they share the award.

Shinji Kagawa

Tatsuya Furuhashi

Furuhashi was our absolute most important offensive player, and became both our topscorer and the player with the most assists. Furuhashi might leave us for next season, and I don't blame him as he is too good for J2 anyway. A shame we didnt manage to win promotion this year which most likely would have encouraged Furuhashi to stay. Anyway, nothing is settled yet so we can still hope Furuhashi stays in Southern Osaka next year as well.

Shinji Kagawa have really had a breakthrough this season, and for an 18 year old player to dominate so much suggests a new star is born. Kagawa didn't receive much playing time in the first half of the season, but has been arguably our best player the last couple of months. Kagawa's main forces are his tremendous dribbling skills, as well as his playmaking abilities. With perhaps Japan's biggest striker talents in the club ( in Kakitani and Morishima ) , most of the focus have been around them, which have led to Kagawa being overlooked at times. But among the 3, Kagawa are the one who have been the most consistent player by far, and are now one of the first players Culpi puts in the starting line-up.

Congratulations to both players, and hopefully we'll see them both in a Cerezo shirt next season :)

Here are the full poll results:

Tatsuya Furuhashi - 8 votes
Shinji Kagawa - 8 votes

Yoichiro Kakitani - 2 votes
Ale - 1 vote
Kazuya Maeda - 1 vote

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cerezo Osaka end of season stats

Cerezo Osaka End of season stats:
18 - Tatsuya Furuhashi
12 - Rui Komatsu
8 - Kazuya Maeda
6 - Yasuhito Morishima
5 - Ze Carlos
5 - Shinji Kagawa
4 - Germano
3 - Noriyuki Sakemoto
2 - Ale
2 - Yoichiro Kakitani
1 - Takuya Kokeguchi
1 - Kim
1 - Masayuki Yanagisawa
1 - Kota Fujimoto
1 - Noboru Nakayama

9 - Tatsuya Furuhashi
5 - Ze Carlos
5 - Shinji Kagawa
2 - Takeshi Hamada
2 - Masayuki Yanagisawa
2 - Takuya Kokeguchi
2 - Ryuhei Niwa
1 - Kenji Haneda
1 - Noriyuki Sakemoto
1 - Kenjiro Ezoe
1 - Noboru Nakayama
1 - Yasuhito Morishima
1 - Yoichiro Kakitani
1 - Ale
1 - Germano
1 - Kota Fujimoto

Number of shots (top 5):
125- Tatsuya Furuhashi
62 - Ze Carlos
55 - Yasuhito Morishima
55 - Shinji Kagawa
49 - Rui Komatsu

Total minutes played :
4320 - Motohiro Yoshida ( max )
4087 - Tatsuya Furuhashi
3683 - Kazuya Maeda
3507 - Kenjiro Ezoe
3104 - Masayuki Yanagisawa
2987 - Ale
2776 - Shinji Kagawa
2693 - Ze Carlos
2395 - Takuya Miyamoto
2334 - Takeshi Hamada
2136 - Rui Komatsu
2035 - Kenji Haneda
1710 - Ryuhei Niwa
1500 - Yasuhito Morishima
1259 - Germano
1249 - Takuya Kokeguchi
1135 - Kota Fujimoto
1080 - Noriyuki Sakemoto
1046 - Yoichiro Kakitani
556 - Kim Shin Young
477 - Tatsuya Yamashita
398 - Noboru Nakayama
360 - Akihiro Sakata
352 - Takahito Chiba
248 - Hiroaki Morishima
59 - Ryuichi Dogaki

Red Cards:
1 - Kazuya Maeda
1 - Kenjiro Ezoe

Yellow Cards:
14- Ale
11- Ze Carlos
9 - Masayuki Yanagisawa
8 - Kenjiro Ezoe
8 - Kazuya Maeda
7 - Tatsuya Furuhashi
7 - Yasuhito Morishima
6 - Germano
5 - Kota Fujimoto
4 - Rui Komatsu
4 - Shinji Kagawa
4 - Takuya Miyamoto
3 - Motohiro Yoshida
3 - Kenji Haneda
3 - Takahito Chiba
3 - Ryuhei Niwa
2 - Hiroaki Morishima
2 - Noboru Nakayama
1 - Takuya Kokeguchi
1 - Tatsuya Yamashita
1 - Takeshi Hamada

Sanfrecce Hiroshima - Kyoto Sanga 2nd leg Preview

Ueslei picked up a knock for Sanfrecce last match, and Hirashige, who scored Sanfrecce’s goal in the first leg looks set to step in. That’s a huge loss for Sanfrecce, despite that Ueslei is in really bad form and hasn’t scored in his 12 last matches.
Kyoto will switch from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 formation for this match, with Paulinho and Tahara up front. Andrè is also fit, but will start on the bench. Tiago is still injured in the Kyoto defence, but there’s still a small possibility he’ll make it in time.

Sanfrecce’s home form is not good at all, with 0-3-3 on last 6 and only 1 win from their last 10. Kyoto are decent away, as they hardly ever lose. they got 1-4-1 on last 6.
I think we’ll in for yet another tight match, and we’ll probably see a fair share of goals. Hiroshima are small favorites due to home-advantage, but their form and performances lately have been really off, and Kyoto showed in the last meeting that they hold J1 quality.
It’s difficult to predict a winner, as these play-off matches often live their own lives, but we all hope for a Sanga win don't we? ;) ( Although it will be sad with no Kansai derby's next season....)

Kyoto Sanga 2 - Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1

Kyoto Sanga - Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1

Kyoto were unlucky not to win by a bigger margin in wednesday’s match, and since they conceded a goal in the dying minutes Hiroshima’s chances now looks a whole lot better.
The game were pretty evenly contested, with plenty of chances to both teams.
Sanfrecce looked best in the opening minutes, and came close on a couple of counter-attacks. But things evened out after a while, and in the 29th minute Kyoto took the lead through a header from Yutaka Tahara. Tahara did great to beat the defenders, after a cross from the right-side had been deflected. Just 10 minutes later, Tahara were on target yet again. This time as well, Tahara scored with his head after a beautiful cross from the right-hand side by Watanabe.
After the break,Sanga continued where they left off in the first half, and could and should have gone both 3 and 4-0 up. Sanga hit both the post and the crossbar, and were unlucky to only lead by 2 goals. In the 75th minute, Sanga’s coach Minobe did a strange move as he took off Sanga’s 2 strikers Paulinho and Tahara. With no real target players left up front, Sanga’s attack became poorer, and Sanfrecce took more and more over. Sanfrecce managed to get an equalizer in the 88th minute, and strenghtened their chances before the home-leg. The youngster Ryuichi Hirashige came on for the unimpressive Ueslei midway through the 2nd half, and Sanfrecce’s reducer were Hirashige’s first ever goal for the club.
Sanfrecce had 13 shots to Kyoto’s 11, but Kyoto deserved to win by a bigger margin.

Rosso Kumamoto and FC Gifu for J2 2008

Congratulations to FC Gifu and Rosso Kumamoto who both earned promotion to J2 next season. Rosso came 2nd and Gifu 3rd in JFL. Sagawa Kyubin SC were not allowed to join J2 despite finishing in 1st.

Kumamoto is based in Kyushu, which means Avispa and Sagan gets another rival. Gifu is located in the middle of Osaka and Tokyo.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Kyoto Sanga - Sanfrecce Hiroshima Preview

The teams latest matches:

Thespa Kusatsu - Kyoto Sanga 1-1
Kyoto had to settle for a draw against Thespa in their last match, but it wouldn’t have mattered if they’d won anyway, as both Consadole and Verdy won their matches.
Kyoto were without both their brazilian strikers, and it became clear early on that they missed them. Things started out nice though, and Tahara put Sanga 1-0 up already after 5 minutes. In the 21th minute, Kyoto were awarded a penalty as well, byt Honda in the Thespa goal saved the shot. Things evened out a bit after that, but still Kyoto looked to be in control. Poor finishing denied Kyoto in gaining a bigger lead although they deserved it, and as often happens then is that the other team equalize. DF Terada came on late in the 2nd half, and in the 90th minute he scored his first and only goal of the season to enormous joy from the home fans. It was by no means deserved, but a nice come-back from Thespa. Kyoto seemed to save some players in the latter half, as they knew Consadole were winning anyway.Kyoto outshot Thespa 12-6.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima - Gamba Osaka 2-2

Sanfrecce’s chances of avoiding the play-off’s were close to 0 before this match, as their goal difference were 11 goals worser than Omiya in 15th, who were 3 points ahead of them. But even with such small chances and alot of key members out, Sanfrecce started the game pretty good, and deservedly took the lead in the 7th minute after Hisato Sato headed home a cross from Yuichi Komano. But Gamba didn’t have to wait long for their equalizer as their topscorer Bare equalized in the 27th minute after being played free by Futagawa. Sanfrecce made a triple substitution 9 minutes into the 2nd half, so it were clear they were already preparing for the play-off. Gamba took more over then, and with 10 minutes left to play Bare and Futagawa were on target again, but this time the roles were mixed as it was Futagawa that finished off a pass from Bare. 2-1 to the visitors, but Sanfrecce somehow managed to bounce back and equalized after the 2 youngster Kashiwagi and Makino combined well to set up Makino’s first ever goal on senior level. Gamba clearly deserved to win this, and they outshot Sanfrecce 21-10. But all in all a decent outing in their last match before they play-offs from Sanfrecce.


The teams have met 2 times before, both in 2006, and Sanfrecce won the home match 1-0 while it ended 2-2 in Kyoto.
Kyoto are in decent form, with 2-2-0 on their last 4 matches. On the last 10, they got only loss, and 4-5-1 in total. Hiroshima on the other hand, have gone 10 matches without winning now. They got 3 draws out of the last 5 matches though, so perhaps there is a slight improvement in form lately.
Kyoto will most likely play get Paulinho back for this one, although he might not be 100% fit yet. If he doesn’t start, he’ll surely be on the bench.
Sanfrecce are on paper a much better side than Kyoto, but their form has been horrendous lately, and Kyoto with home advantage can very well win this. Kyoto’s offence has been impressive all season, even when they were forced to rely on the replacements for Paulinho and Andrè. Likewise, Sanfrecce’s defence has been horrible all season, and they even conceded more goals than last-placed Yokohama FC. Despite big names like Toda and Stoyanov, Sanfrecce clearly has a problem at the back. Therefore, Kyoto should be able to notch up a few goals here, especially if Paulinho returns ( which both Yahoo Sports and some other sites reports he will).I think and hope this will be a narrow win for Kyoto, who has to do their best to deny Sanfrecce any goals as away goals are very important.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cerezo Osaka 2 - Tokyo Verdy 2

So, Cerezo's final match of the season ended a 2-2 draw vs Tokyo Verdy. Verdy had been Cerezo's bogey team this season, with 0-0-3 and 0-8 from the previous 3 meetings. It looked like it should continue in just the same way for this match as well, as Verdy were 2-0 up after only 33 minutes. First in the 16th minute, when Hattori's corner found Diego in the box who headed in the opening goal. In the 33rd minute Iio doubled Verdy's lead, with left-side shot that flew past Yoshida in the Cerezo goal.

Cerezo replied almost immediately though, through a PK from Germano. The game changed pace after the break, and Cerezo took more and more over the match. 15 minutes before the end Cerezo finally got paid for their efforts, as Komatsu made it 2-2. A nice recovery after being 2 goals down so early, but it would have tasted much better with a win in the last match. Alot of the supporters brought newly-made banners with thanks to the players. A nice view! (some of the banners you can see on the pictures below).

Rumours has it this was Tatsuya Furuhashi's last game for Cerezo as he might be on the move to another club.

A nice atmosphere outside the stadium before the match

Match Stats:
C: Germano 36' (PK), Rui Komatsu 76' ( Niwa)
V: Diego 16' (Hattori), Kazunori Iio 33'

Cerezo lineup:

Subs: None for Cerezo

Shots:Cerezo 7 / Verdy 9

C: Komatsu,Maeda,Germano
V: Funakoshi

Attendance: 13 126

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cerezo Osaka - Tokyo Verdy Preview

Cerezo’s slim hope of promotion vanished last round, when they failed to beat minnows Mito away. Verdy on the other hand, practically secured their place in J2 by beating Ehime.

In their last meeting Cerezo hit ground again after producing some nice results in the matches before when they were thrashed 4-0 by Tokyo Verdy away. The result don’t tell the whole story though, as Cerezo was in fact the superior team that match according to chances and possession. Tokyo scored 2 goals in each half to win the match pretty convincingly. Cerezo outshot Tokyo 17-10 though, and should have scored a few goals themselves. Verdy also won the 2 other matches against Cerezo this season, 2-0 away and home. That means Verdy got 3 wins and 8-0 vs Cerezo in 3 matches. All previous meetings gives us 1-3-5 for Cerezo.
Cerezo’s form is still great, but they’ve only taken 1 point from their 2 last matches. Before that they had 3 wins in a row. Home, Cerezo got 5-1-0 on last 6 and 10-1-0 on last 11.
Verdy are in even better form than Cerezo, and are unbeaten for 15 matches. They only got 1 win from their last 3 matches though. Their away form is an impressive 4-2-0 on last 6.
Cerezo get’s a couple of important players back for this one, but are still missing some. But Verdy are more weakened, as Hulk is still out with suspension.

A tough game to predict, as Cerezo’s hopes of promotion are vanished, and they don’t really have anything left to play for. Cerezo currently holds 5th though, and can climb to 4th with a win or drop to 6th if they lose. Verdy are practically ready for J1 already, and don’t have any pressure to win. In that matter Cerezo got more to play for than Verdy, as a 4th place sounds much better than 6th. That as well as it being their last match at home makes Cerezo small favorites. But really, it can go either way.

Probable squads ( Cerezo in white)

J2 round 52 Preview

Avispa Fukuoka
Sagan Tosu

In their last meeting Sagan took a very much deserved win against Avispa,although the first half was pretty even. Sagan took the lead some minutes before half-time through winger Shimizu, and added another just minutes into the 2nd half through korean striker Kim. After a pretty good first half, Avispa didn’t look as bright in the 2nd. It didn’t help that their ace striker Lincoln got sent off in the 68th minute. The best japanese striker in J2, Yoshihiro Fujita added another for Sagan to make it 3-0 which took the game out of reach for the visitors. Avispa got their consolation goal in the 90th minute through Sonobe. Sagan outshot Avispa 18-12. The other match in Tosyu ended with a cracking 5-0 win for Avispa, while Sagan won the first match in Fukuoka 2-1. That’s all the previous meetings between these teams. Avispa have won 2 matches in a row now, but haven’t been in that good form lately. Their home form is 3-1-2. Sagan have 3-1-0 on their last 4, and are in decent form. Awya they only got 2-1-3 though. Both Avispa’s and Sagan’s league position are already decided, with Avispa finishing 7th just ahead of Sagan in 8th. Therefore, neither of the teams got that much to play for. However, this is Avispa’s last home match, and they want to finish the season in style and thanking the supporters with a win. That should be motivation enough. Sagan are in better form than Avispa, but Avispa should still be considered home favorites. This is a derby match as well, so both teams shold be motivated in that matter.
Avispa will do their best to finish the season in front of their home crowd on a high,and probably beat Sagan.
Consadole Sapporo
Mito Hollyhock

In their last meeting Mito took a very surprising 2-1 win at home. Mito played brilliantly for most of the match, and upset the league leaders by going 1-0 up already in the 10th minute through FW Shiozawa after Consadole’s keeper Takagi had fumbled. Davi equalized just a minute later with a nice shot, and everyone thought Consadole would now run away with it. But in the 16th minute Mito managed to score again, after Kanazawa’s looping pass found Nishino in the box who made no mistake. Mito defended well for the entire match, and the Consadole players grew more and more frustrated.Honma in the Mito goal had a very good day as well, and stopped whatever Consadole threw at him. Both teams had 9 shots each, and Mito’s first win in almost a year at home were fully deserved.Consadole won the 2 other meetings 3-0 at home and 2-0 away. All previous meetings gives us 4-0-3 for Consadole.
Consadole’s form is decent, with 4-1-1 on last 6. They’ve only got 1 poin from their last 2 though. Their home form is 3-2-1.
Mito have been playing some nice football lately, and won their 2 last home matches against Cerezo and Ehime. But they’ve been pretty bad away, with 0-1-5 on last 6.
Consadole only needs a point to finish among the top 2, but will probably go out to win. A huge crowd is expected for this match, and I doubt Mito have the strength to overcome Consadole away.

Ehime FC
Shonan Bellmare

In their last meeting Ehime travelled to Shonan were they picked up a hard-fought point. The match ended 1-1, after both teams scored within the first 8 minutes of the match. It was Ehime that scored first, after only 2 minutes. Shonan replied 6 minutes after though, to level things out again. Shonan took more and more over as time went by, but lacked skill to break through the for once solid Ehime defence. Shonan looked sharp in the beginning of the 2nd half too, but in the 53th minute defender Hiroyuki Omata were sent off for a blatant foul, and Shonan had to change to a more defensive formation for the rest of the match. With Shonan backing off, Ehime took more and more over and produced several chances. But as neither of the teams managed to put the ball in the net, it ended 1-1. Both teams had 9 shots each, so you can say it was a fair result. The other match in Shonan also ended a draw, 0-0, while Shonan took a cracking 4-0 win in the first match in Ehime. All previous meetings gives us 2-2-3 for Ehime.
Ehime’s form is really bad now, and they have recorded 6 consecutive losses. Their home form is 2-1-3. Shonan have been pretty good lately, and prior to their 2-1 loss against Avispa at home last round, they had 4 wins in a row. Away they only got 2-1-3 though.
The match is more important to Shonan than to Ehime, as Shonan can climb all the way up to 4th place with a win. Shonan is a much better side as well, so they are naturally big favorites, even though they’re playing without Adiel. With Ehime’s current form I don’t really see how they will manage to beat Shonan here, even though it’s their last match at home.
Thespa Kusatsu
Kyoto Sanga F.C.

In their last match Kyoto met surprisingly good opposition in a hard-fighting Thespa. For the 3rd time this season, Kyoto struggled to break down the Thespa defence, and this game looked much the same as the first encounter, which also ended 1-1.
Kyoto were overall the better team, but their attacking play lacked creativity and a plan. Thespa had their chances as well, but were easily handled by Hirai in the Kyoto goal.
The 2nd half saw the return of highly regarded striker Andrè, and he immediately marked himself with a yellow card. More positive things were to come though from him though, as he finally broke the deadlock in the 76th minute to take Kyoto 1-0 up. That was Andrè’s 10th goal in 16 starts, and when he’s injury-free, he adds a new depth to the Kyoto attack.
Thespa didn’t gave up though, and as in the 1st meeting this season, they equalized late in the game to see it end 1-1. Some poor defending let FW Takada score his 4th goal of the season. Kyoto outshot Thespa 15-10, but played below par this match. The other match in Kyoto also ended 1-1, while Kyoto took a 1-0 win away. That’s all the previous meetings between these teams.
Thespa’s form is not bad, but the majority of their matches ends as draws, which again doesn’t bring in much points. Thespa have 3 draws from their last 4 matches. At home, Thespa now got 1-7-0 on last 8. Kyoto are in decent form, with 2-1-0 on their last 3 matches ( against fairly good competition). Away they only got 2-3-1 though.
Kyoto are still without Paulinho up front, and most likely Andrè will be missing this match as well, although he’s reportedly fit. Kyoto will do what they can to win here, as that could mean they would end up in 2nd if Consadole loses. Most likely Kyoto has to settle with 3rd though, and play-offs. Kyoto is a much better side than Thespa, but other big teams like Verdy and Cerezo have both failed here recently, and it could very well turn out to be the case for Kyoto as well. I doubt Thespa manage to win, but a draw is just as likely as an away win. But as long as Kyoto still has a chance of finishing 2nd, they will probably do what they can to beat Thespa.
Vegalta Sendai
Tokushima Vortis

In their last meeting,Vegalta took a pretty comfortable win away at Tokushima, despite going 1 down early in the game. Hasegawa scored his first goal of the season in the 10th minute to make it 1-0 for Tokushima. It was against as the play, as Vegalta had already had a couple of big chances before that. Tokushima took a more defensive stance to the game after that, trying to protect their lead. Vegalta pushed forward for an equalizer but by half time the score was still 1-0 to Tokushima.
Vegalta continued pressing after the break, and when DF Chiba headed home the equalizer in the 51st minute the players look relieved, after pushing so hard since the early goal.
Tokushima kept defending with all their might, and didn’t create a thing for the entire 2nd half. Therefore, it was fully deserved that Lopes scored the winning goal for Vegalta with only 5 minutes left to play. Vegalta outshot Tokushima 16-4, and Tokushima didn’t deserve much from such a poor outing. The other match in Tokushima ended 2-2, while Tokushima took a very surprising 2-1 the first match in Sendai. All previous meetings gives us 4-2-1 for Vegalta.
Vegalta’s form has taken a dip lately, with only 1 point from their 3 last matches. That’s the main reason why Vegalta doesn’t have any chance of promotion anymore as well. Their home form is 3-1-2. Tokushima have only taken 2 points from their last 9 matches, and are in really bad form. With Mito’s surprising win over Cerezo last round, Tokushima now are in last place, and it doesn’t look like they will be able to climb away from it with this being their last chance. Tokushima’s away form is 0-1-5.
Vegalta are of course huge favorites here, and they will probably do their best to stay 4th.

J2 round 51 Match Reports

Kyoto Sanga F.C.
Vegalta Sendai
Kyoto secured a top 3 finish last round, and will atleast make it to the play-offs. However, they had to struggle hard for the win, and Vegalta coud easily have ended up as winners. Vegalta were the team with the most chances, but Hirai in the Kyoto goal had no problem stopping the shots. The Vegalta strikers kept on running into offside as well, which stopped a few potential big chances.
With neither of the teams managing to score, for long it looked like it would be a scoreless draw until Kyoto finally broke the deadlock in the 89th minute. Watanabe received a pass from Nishino on the right, and his cross found Toshiya Ishii free on the far post who headed home the winning goal to the 17 000 + enormous joy. With that, Ishii have now scored in 2 games in a row, which infact are his only goals ever for Sanga.
But despite the win, Vegalta outshot them 14-11 and perhaps deserved atleast a draw.
Sagan Tosu
Montedio Yamagata
0 - 0
Montedio only managed a draw in what was their last match of the season. It’s been a funny season for them, with a very fresh start where they at one point were top of the league, to long runs of defeats. A 9th place finish isn’t that bad, although they were hoping for more at the start of the season. Sagan’s season is coming to an end as well, and although they have one game left, they are certain to finish 8th. A bit disappointing after last year’s 4th place finish, and they’ve only shown glimpses of the form that took them so high last season.
The game itself weren’t that exciting, and didn’t have many chances. The few shots we saw lacked accuracy and power, and either went wide or straight at the goalkeeper. Although Sagan controlled most of the match and had the most chances, Montedio came closest of winning. Montedio put on 2 extra strikers with 15 minutes left to play, which put Sagan under alot of pressure. But as the referee blew the final whistle, the teams were stille tied at 0-0, and Montedio’s season were finished. Sagan outshot the away team 10-5 and shoudl have won according to that.
Shonan Bellmare
Avispa Fukuoka
Avispa secured a 7th place finish with a nice 2-1 win over Shonan last round. However, the game could easily have turned out the other way,with Shonan missing a penalty among other things. Avispa took the lead after only 10 minutes, when the Shonan keeper missed totally when he rushed out to stop the ball. Kiyasagi’s pass found Tanaka free, which after the GK’s error only had to place the ball into the open net. After that Shonan took more and more over, and it was deserved when Isihara managed to steal the ball after some risky passing in the Avispa defence and fired home the equalizer in injury-time.
Shonan started the 2nd half best as well, but didn’t come to any major chances. With 5 minutes left to play, Shonan were given a penalty, and a chance to climb all the way up to 4th place if they managed to score. However, the penalty-kick unfortunately hit the post, and Avispa struck back immediately on the following counter-attack. Alex got the honour of finishing it off, and scored his 26th goal of the season. Unlucky for Shonan, but Avispa fought hard for the win. Shonan outshout Avispa 13-11.
Tokushima Vortis
Thespa Kusatsu
With the 2 most likely teams to draw meeting eachother, it was no surprise that the teams shared the spoils with a 2-2 draw at the end.In fact, with this, all 4 meetings between these 2 teams have now ended a draw. Tokushima started the game best, and looked by far the better team in the opening half. They took the lead after a magnificent counter-attack in the 40th minute, where Ishida had the honour of making it 1-0. Tokushima could easily have doubled that just minutes after, but at half-time the score were only 1-0.
Koji Matsuura came on for Thespa for the 2nd half, and he immediately made an impact. First, in the 52nd minute, he started the attack that led to Thespa’s equalizer which came through the 35-year old midfielder Toriizuka. And just 4 minutes later he took matters in his own hands, and put Thespa in the lead with a well-placed shot.
Tokushima tried to bounce-back, and made a triple substitution. With just 1 minute left to play, they finally got their equalizer through one of the substitutes, Nishikawa. Tokushima outshot Thespa 13-7, but could only manage a draw in the end in what was their last home-match of the season.
Tokyo Verdy 1969
Ehime FC
2 - 1
Verdy almost secured their place in J1 next season, with their 2-1 win over Ehime. As it stands now, Verdy got a 12 goal advantage on Kyoto in 3rd, and unless Kyoto manages to equal that and of couse Verdy loses the last match, Verdy are in J1 next season.
Although Verdy dominated most of the match, Ehime proved to be hard to beat, and the winning goal didnt come before in the 79th minute. Yuzo Funakoshi, who were replacing the suspended Hulk did what he was brought in for, and put Verdy in the lead after only 11 minutes when he was played through by Diego. Verdy looked to be in total control at that time, and one figured how big the win would be. But despite many chances ( 22 shots to Ehime’s 11), Ehime were still down by only a goal. And as often happens when one team are pressing, the other one scores. Uchimura received a pass from the vibrant Aono, and fired home the equalizer in the 36th minute. The teams were still tied when they went into the locker-rooms for half-time.
Verdy continued with their offensive strategy also after the break, but their finishing lacked precision. We had to wait all the way until the 79th minute for the winning goal, and once again it was Hulk’s replacement Funakoshi who were on target. A corner-kick from veteran defender Hattori found Funakoshi, and he once again put the home team in the lead. Over 14 000 Verdy fans had turned up for this match ( which is a season-high), and with Funakoshi’s 2 goals they got what they came for.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mito Hollyhock 1 - Cerezo Osaka 0 Match report

So, it turned out to be Mito that ended our dream of making it back to J1 after just one season in J2. Cerezo looked surprisingly bad this match, and were at times outplayed by the home team.
Now, Cerezo had some injury problems as well as a few players out with suspension, but either way they should have managed to beat the smallest team in J2.

Both teams had a few chances in the first half, and the biggest fell to Mito's Kanazawa who squandered a golden opportunity. Minutes later the very ineffective Yasuhito Morishima had a similar chance of putting Cerezo in the lead, but his finish lacked precision. With that, the teams were still deadlocked by half-time.

Levir Culpi decided to replace Fujimoto with Hamada at half-time, in an attempt to break down the packed Mito defence. But things didn't go Cerezo's way, and just 11 minutes into the half Kohei Nishino fires off a left-footed shot that flies past Yoshida in the Cerezo goal. Now time were ticking for Cerezo, as they suddenly were in need of 2 goals to keep their promotion hopes alive. In came Kakitani and Komatsu for Y.Morishima and Sakemoto, but it didn't help and Mito were closer 2-0 than 1-1. Mito also did a tactical change, and put in an extra defender in Yoshimoto, which helped alot to keep the Cerezo strikers at bay. In the end Mito outshot Cerezo 15-10 and deserved the win.

All in all a very disappointed resulty and match for Cerezo, who now has to face another season in J2. With so many talents, it remains to be seen if Cerezo manages to keep them in the club. Especially Kakitani and Kagawa will be attractive objects in off-season, but it's also important to keep players like Maeda and Furuhashi.

Mito: Kohei Nishino 56'

Cerezo lineup:

GK: Yoshida
DF: Yanagisawa, Haneda,Maeda,Niwa
FW: Y.Morishima, Furuhashi

Fujimoto --> Hamada 45'
Sakemoto --> Kakitani 60'
Y.Morishima --> Komatsu 60'

M: Ogura,Nishino / C : Y.Morishima, Niwa

Attendance: 4563

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mito Hollyhock - Cerezo Osaka Preview

Probable squads (Cerezo in red)

Mito Hollyhock
Cerezo Osaka

Mito:DF Masashi Owada
Cerezo:AM Hiroaki Morishima, MF Noboru Nakayama, GK Daisuke Tada, MF Ale , DF Ze Carlos

Mito: MF Biju

Cerezo: MF Germano , DF Kenjiro Ezoe
In their last meeting Cerezo played Mito at home where they won quite comfortably 2-0. Mito didn't create much, and with Cerezo being surprisingly defensive as well, it was all in all a boring game. Home fans will be pleased anyway as Cerezo topscorer Furuhashi made it 1-0 after a nice set-piece some 30 minutes into the game. Cerezo slowed things down after that, but still created some dangerous chances which were stopped by the more and more impressive Honma in the Mito goal. As the time ran out, Honma had to see himself beaten once again though, as in-form Shinji Kagawa made it 2-0 and secured Cerezo's win. Cerezo outshot Mito 12-3. The first match in Osaka ended a scoreless draw, while Cerezo took a comfortable 3-1 win in their first away match. That’s the only previous meetings between these teams.

Mito’s form is not that good, with 1-0-4 on last 5. However, they played pretty decent in all their defeats, and lost by a small margin. Their home form is 2-0-4. Cerezo got 3-1-0 on last 4 and looks to be in solid form. They’ve lost only one of their last 14 matches so theyve been good for a long time now. Their away form however, is only 3-2-1.

Mito can field their best possible line-up here except Biju in midfield.The impressive Honma looks to be back in goal for this one, as a youngster have been vacating in their last matches.
For Cerezo, they are without 4 important players. We’ll see a brand new midfield for this one, with Fujimoto and Yamashita filling Germano and Ale’s roles. Both players prefer to play in defence, but can do a reasonable good job in midfield as well. Yamashita haven’t been receiving much playing time this season though, with only 6 games.
Ezoe and Ze Carlos is out as well, but Cerezo got pretty good coverage for those 2 players.

Mito is chasing a win here, as that would most likely take them away from the bottom-place in the table. So the motivation should be on top as it’s their last home match too. Cerezo screwed up last round, but still has a chance of finishing 3rd if the other results goes for them. There’s a big difference in ability here, so naturally Cerezo are favorites. I don’t really see how Mito can beat Cerezo, but they have surprised before. Cerezo doesn’t score alot of goals away, and Mito have a poor goalscoring record as well, so it will most likely be a low-scoring one. Cerezo will most likely win it.

J2 Match Reports - round 50

Avispa Fukuoka
Tokushima Vortis
As expected, Avispa had no real problems overcoming a visiting Tokushima side last round, and beat them comfortably 2-0. But despite the ”easy” win, it was actually Tokushima that had the most shots with 10 to 7. Avispa looked by dar the better team in the first half though, and scored 2 times to ”kill” the game. Lincoln opened the scoring in the 25th minute after a counter-attack, as he had no problems finishing off a nice pass by fellow brazilian striker Alex. Alex, Avispa topscorer, had been struggling with an injury lately, but to everyone’s surprise he was fit for this match. He proved his worth to the Avispa team first with an assist, and 10 minutes later with a well-placed penaltykick that made it 2-0.
That was the last worth mentioning that happened before the break, with Avispa comfortably in the lead. Avispa might have thought they had won it already as the 2nd hald started, as Tokushima took them by surprise and came to several big chances especially through their striker Abe. But poor finishing saw the visitors once again leaving without scoring a goal, and Avispa won the game.

Consadole Sapporo
Kyoto Sanga F.C.
In the biggest match of the round, and probably the most entertaining one as well, Consadole and Kyoto shared the spoils with a 2-2 draw after Kyoto scored a late and dramatic equalizer.
Consadole opened the game best, and had several chances to go 1-0 up the first 30 minutes. Their brazilian FW Davi even got a goal disallowed for offside in a situation where he most likely were on-side. In the 35th minute, Consadole got a PK, but Davi’s shot was too weak and Hirai in the Sanga goal easily saved it. To make things worse for Sapporo, Kyoto scored on a counter-attack just seconds later. Ishii’s low cross found Watanabe who made no mistake from 5 metres out. That proved to be the only goal before the break, and Kyoto somewhat unfairly were in front at half-time.
Consadole’s coach made 2 substitutions at half-time that proved to be a very smart move. Ishii and Okamoto came on, and the 2 combined well to set up a Consadole goal in the 73rd minute. Ishii found Okamoto free on the left, and Okamoto’s shot from 16-18 metres out went past Hirai. Just 3 minutes later, Consadole were rewarded a 2nd penalty, and this time Ishii were the man to take it. Ishii made no mistake, and suddenly Consadole were in the lead. The record-high attendance of 32,500 went crazy, and everyone thought Consadole now would secure the win. However, in the 89th minute, Sanga were rewarded a cheap penalty after 2 players collided inside the box. Nishino, who came on just 4 minutes earlier, stepped up and made it 2-2 with a well-placed penalty. A bit against the play, and Consadole have to feel a bit gutted with how the referee’s decisions went against them on several occasions. Consadole had 20 shots to Kyoto’s 15.

Montedio Yamagata
Mito Hollyhock
In what proved to be a very boring match, Montedio did just enough to overcome a visiting Mito side last round. Especially the home team looked very static, and didn’t looked interested in taking any chances. Mito opened the match in a high tempo, and almost immediately put Montedio under pressure. Their fast-paced soccer were hard for the home team to cope with, but several times the abilities didn’t match the ambitions of the Mito players, and their passing were under-par for much of the game. Montedio’s cautios approach to the match left Mito do all the running, and the away team looked to be losing stamina in the 2nd half. Brazliian defender Leonardo exploited an error in the Mito defence after a corner 17 minutes after the break, and his shot flew past everyone and into the net. That was Leonardo’s first goal this season. Things evened out after that, and both teams had a few chances to score. But nothing more happened, and Montedio ended their 9 game run without a win by beating Mito 1-0 here. Mito had 11 shots to Montedio’s 9, and probably deserved more from this.

Vegalta Sendai
Shonan Bellmare
Vegalta very surprisingly lost 2-3 to a visiting Shonan side last round.
Shonan opened the match in a very high tempo, and scored twice in the first 20 minutes to go 2-0 up. In the 14th minute Shonan counter-attacked, and Suzuki’s pass found Kato free in the box who easily put the ball behind the Vegalta keeper. Just 4 minutes later, Ishihara doubled the score with a well-placed shot. Vegalta get’s one back in the 30th minute though, after Ryan Yong Gi’s cross found Okayama, who made it 1-2 with his head. That was the last real action we saw in the first half, and surprisingly Shonan were ahead.
In the 2nd half, Vegalta chased the equalizer, and came to many chances. But as often happens when one team presses, it’s the other team that scores. Shonan were awarded a free-kick 20 metres out, and Kato’s well placed shot extended the away team’s lead to 3-1. With little time left, Vegalta looked defeated alread, but still managed to come to several chances. 2 minutes before full-time, Vegalta once again reduced with a Lopes penalty-kick, but it was too little too late and Vegalta had to see Shonan steal all the points, Vegalta had 18 shots to Shonan’s 9, so the home-fans had every right to feel unhappy with the outcome.

Ehime FC - Sagan Tosu 1 - 2
In a hard-fought and tough match, Sagan did just enough to beat Ehime away with a 2-1 win. Sagan chased their 3th win a row, and had a positive opening to the match. After only 11 minutes their korean striker Kim made it 1-0 to the away team after an in-swung corner-kick. Kim had the chance to double that lead minutes later, but his shot was too weak.
Ehime, who were pressed deep into their own half the opening minutes, equalized on what was their first attack of the game in the 21st minute. Kiyahara’s cross from the right found Kondo free inside the box, and his header sailed into the top-right corner to make it 1-1.
A bit against the play, and by half-time the teams were still deadlocked.
It didn’t take long before Sagan were ahead again as the 2nd half started. In the 49th minute their topscorer Fujita were played free by Kim, and Fujita had no problems scoring his 24th goal of the season.After that, Sagan changed into a more defensive formation as they tried to preserve their lead. Ehime’s attacks were no match to the now packed Sagan defence, and Fujita’s goal proved to be the winner- Sagan had 12 shots to Ehime’s 6, who now has 5 losses in a row.

Thespa vs Cerezo highlights

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thespa Kusatsu 2 - Cerezo 2 (round 50)

So, with just a point against Thespa our chances for finishing 3rd suddenly got much smaller.
With over 25 shots to Thespa's 8 the match should have been won by a big margin, but sadly enough Thespa's 2 goals in the first half secured them a draw.

The match were evenly contested in the opening minutes with chances to both teams. Especially Cerezo's Y.Morishima had a bad day, as he squandered many chances .
A player that really were on fire though was Thespa's Careca. In the 21st minute he scored a beautiful goal with a direct-hit from a precise Terada pass that flew into the low corner. A bit against the play, but the few times Thespa were in attack it always looked dangerous. Around the 30th minute mark, the referee made a dubious call, as he gave Thespa's Matsushita a 2nd yellow card which led to his dismissal. It never looked like a red-card, and perhaps the referee wanted to make amends 10 minutes later, when he sent-off Cerezo's Ezoe. Ezoe clipped down Careca who was on the run, but Ezoe had 1-2 players behind him so at most it should have been a yellow card. Careca took the free-kick himself, which deflected off a Cerezo defender which left Yoshida with no chance in the goal. So, by half-time the home team was 2-0 up, with 10 players left on both teams.

Cerezo look very determined when they entered the pitch for the 2nd half, and it took them only 4 minutes to reduce. Kazuya Maeda scored his 8th goal of the season when a Haneda cross from the left found Maeda free at the far-post. Maeda hit it directly with his right-foot and made it 1-2. Cerezo kept pushing, but Furuhashi and especially Morishima kept squandering chances. However, midway through the half Cerezo got their equalizer when Kagawa found Furuhashi just outside the box.Furuhashi's hard and low-placed shot took the Thespa keeper by surprise, and suddenly the teams were deadlocked again.

As time passed by, Cerezo made some offensive changes as they chased the winning goal, but at the end they can only blame themselves for not winning this. With 25 shots to Thespa's 8, there's no doubt who deserved the win.

T: Careca 21,42 / C: Maeda 47 (Furuhashi), Furuhashi 67 (Kagawa)

Starting Lineup Cerezo:
DF: Yanagisawa,Maeda,Ezoe,Niwa
MF: Hamada,Haneda,Germano,Kagawa
FW: Furuhashi, Y.Morishima

Y.Morishima --> R.Komatsu 88
T.Hamada --> N.Sakemoto 88

T: Matsushita / C: Germano , Ezoe
Shots: Thespa 8 / Cerezo 25 (!)
Attendance: 3862

Thespa vs Cerezo Preview (round 50)

Thespa Kusatsu
Cerezo Osaka
In their last meetingCerezo won 2-1 at home. Rui Komatsu, the young striker, proved to be Cerezo’s hero this game, as he was very much the cause of Cerezo’s first goal which were an own goal and scored the 2nd himself. Thespa took an early and were 1-0 up in the 8th minute. That was about all they did on the offensive front this match though, as they switched to an ultra-defensive tactic for the remainder of the match. Cerezo tried to break through the Thespa wall several times with no luck, before the Thespa defender were unlucky to put the ball in his own net. Cerezo got their 2nd goal early in the 2nd half, through Komatsu, and by then, the game looked all lost for Thespa. They didn’t manage to turn the game around, and never really came close of equalizing. A fully deserved win for Cerezo.Cerezo also won the 2 others matches this season against Thespa, 1-0 at home and 2-0 away. That’s all the previous meetings between these teams.
Thespa have only picked up 1 point from their last 3 matches and 7 points from their last 9. They are a very tough team to beat at home though, and are unbeaten for 7 matches with 1-6-0. But they draw way too many matches, and drop alot points in that way.
Cerezo have bounced back well after their 2-1 loss at Vegalta 4 rounds ago, and picked up 3 wins in a row. On the last 13 matches Cerezo got 10-2-1, which is very impressive. Their away form is great as well, with 4-1-1 on last 6.
Cerezo are missing alot of players for this one, and their 2 brazilians Ale and Ze Carlos are the hardest to replace. In for them comes Haneda and Niwa, who both have received a decent amount of playing time this season and done their job quite well. Komatsu and Kakitani are missing up front, but neither of them would probably not have been in the
starting lineup as Furuhashi and Morishima are the form players now among the strikers.
Thespa got very little to play for, and it’s no doubt Cerezo is the team that will be most motivated here. This should be a Cerezo win.

Friday, November 16, 2007

*Cerezo Injury Update*

Sad news for all Cerezo fans;

Our 2 very important brazilians Ale and Ze Carlos will most likely miss the rest of the season as they look set to be sidelines for around 3 weeks with injuries. Will this be the reason why Cerezo won't make it to the play-offs..??

Rui Komatsu is also very doutbful for the upcoming match as he has picked up a knock. Komatsu hasn't received much playing time lately, so it shouldn't be that big a loss. Y.Morishima and Furuhashi will most likely start up front against Thespa on Sunday.

Ryuhei Niwa will most likely fill the left-back position for Ze Carlos, and he's done a fine job doing that earlier this season, so it isn't necessarily that big of a loss. Kenji Haneda ( or perhaps Takeshi Hamada) will fill Ale's shoes, and he's proven his worth already this season when he vacated for the injured Kenjiro Ezoe in defence. Haneda is not as good on the offensive part as Ale is, but is probably just as good defensively. Germano have been in superb form lately, so if he take care of the offensive matters it might turn out ok anyway.

Other news suggests Mr.Cerezo himself
Hiroaki Morishima will most likely be
sidelined for next season as well as he's
struggling with neck pain. That's very sad,
and one have to wonder if Aki have played
his last match ever for Cerezo. Morishima
have played 425 matches for The Flaming Pinks and notched up 133 goals.

J2 round 49 - Match Reports

Mito Hollyhock
Ehime FC
1 - 0
In a very evenly contested match Mito ended up as winners when they played Ehime FC at home last round. Mito held the ball for most of the match but when it came to big chances Ehime had just as many as the home team. Mito’s finishing didn’t look good this match, and of a total of 18 shots ( to Ehime’s 9), only 3 of them really threatened the goalkeeper. For long it looked like it would end a draw, until MF Hiromasa Kanazawa exploited an error from Ehime keeper Kawakita to make it 1-0 in the 85th minute. That was Kanazawa’s first goal since early May, and only his 2nd goal of the season.
The win takes Mito just 1 point clear of Tokushima, and they have a nice opportunity to finalyl climb up from bottom-place now.
Tokyo Verdy 1969
Vegalta Sendai
Verdy’s finishing was for once below par, and despite 14 chances they only managed 1 goal. Especially Hulk had a bad day, with a total of 9 shots and no goals. The away team started the game best, and went 1-0 up already in the 9th minute through Ryan Yong Gi. The versatile midfielder received a pass from Hiroki Bandai, and sent away a low piledriver shot that proved to be too hard for the Verdy keeper to save. Vegalta decided to pack their defence after that, and did a good job denying Verdy goals. However, Verdy kept pushing, and 32 minutes into the 2nd half Diego were on the receiving end of Hattori’s looping pass and had an easy task scoring the equalizer. Verdy pushed forward for a 2nd goal as well, but Vegalta withstood the pressure and held on for the draw. Verdy outshot Vegalta 14-5.
Kyoto Sanga F.C.
Montedio Yamagata
Kyoto had few problems beating Montedio at home last round, and should have won by a much bigger margin than 2-1. But actually it was the away side that opened the scoring through a counter-attack in the 32nd minute. GK Shimizu sent away a long ball that eventually found Hayato Sasaki free, who scored neatly with a right-footed shot. 4 minutes later Kyoto playmaker Kuranuki were injured, and replaced by FW Andrè. Moments later, Watanabe’s cross found the head of Andrè, who scored with his first touch of the game. Despite heavy pressure from the home-side, the score were still 1-1 at half-time.
In the 52nd minute though, Sanga went ahead after what ust go down as an own-goal. An in-swinging corner cause havoc in front of the Montedio goal, and under heavy pressure from Andrè the ball deflected off a Montedio defender and into the open goal.
Kyoto kept dominating for the rest of the match, but actually Montedio could easily have stolen a point in the dying seconds as they blew a major chance. Despite that, it was a very deserved win, which should have been bigger. Sanga outshot Montedio 17-6.
Sagan Tosu
Consadole Sapporo
1 - 0
Sagan did a brilliant job to win the home match vs league-leaders Consadole last round. It was an evenly contested match, and Sagan tried their best to deny Consadole any chances.
With a win here, Consadole would have at least 1,5 foot in J1 next season, but Sagan denied them that glory as they beat them with a goal to nil. The only goal came 5 minutes into the 2nd half, as an error by a Consadole defender led to Yu Eto being alone with Takagi, who saved Eto’s first effort but had to see his rebound shot go past him. Takagi was once again easily the man of the match, as he came p with a string of first-class saves.
Sagan looked very good in their attacking play here, and for once did a good job in defence as well. Consadole still has 3 matchballs and probably only need to win one of them to go to J1 next season. Sagan outshot Consadole 14-11.
Shonan Bellmare
Thespa Kusatsu
Shonan took their 3rd win in a row last round when they overcame Thespa with 2-1.
Shonan opened the game best, and came around on the flanks with great wing-play on several occasions, but the finishing/crossing were too bad. But it was only a matter of time before the first goal came, and it was fully deserved that it was Shonan that opened the scoring through MF Shota Suzuki in the 38th minute. After being played through by veteran MF Kato, Suzuki finished neatly with a lob to make it 1-0. Shonan had been by far the best side in the 1st half, and the lead was fully deserved. Thespa came more into the match in the 2nd half however, and could easily have equalized on one of their counter-attacks. Instead Shonan made it 2-0 with only 5 minutes left to play, as a risky back-pass from a Thespa defender went past the keeper and into the open goal. Careca, who came on for the injured Takada in the first half, scored in his 2nd game in a row to make it 1-2. Thespa threw all men forward after that, but didn’t manage to come to any big goal-scoring opportunites and lost the game deservedly. Shonan outshot Thespa 12-9.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A run-down on the J2 run-in

So, with only 3 rounds left, we now have 5 teams left who still has a chance of promotion.
Here's a look on the 5 teams and their chances:

Consadole Sapporo ( 87p) :
Sanga (H)
Mito ( H)
Consadole looks almost certain to end up either in 1st place or 2nd place, and with that will win direct promotion.
A point against Sanga will most likely be enough to secure a top 2 finish, and my guess is they will end up with 91 points and 1st place.

Tokyo Verdy (85p) :
Ehime (H)
Cerezo ( A)
Verdy as well looks set to win direct promotion. A win against Ehime in their next game will secure a top 3 finish, and my guess is Vegalta and Kyoto will drop too many points to be able to climb above them into 2nd. Verdy faces a tough away match in their last match, when they travel to an in-form Cerezo. Verdy will miss Hulk in both their remaining matches, and that's good news for Cerezo, who needs a win against Verdy. I think Verdy will win against Ehime, but lose against Cerezo, and with that end up with 88 points and 2nd place.

Kyoto Sanga (81p) :
Consadole (A)
Vegalta (H)
Thespa (A)
Kyoto looks to be in a fairly good position regarding the 3rd place spot, but they have the toughest schedule left among the top 5 teams. Consadole away is never easy, and I doubt they will end up with more than a point there. Vegalta at home is just as tough,and with only 3 wins in their last 8 matches, Kyoto's form is not that good. They might very well end up drawing that match as well. Thespa away should be an easy task, and that would give them 2 draws and a win in their last 3 matches, which would see them end up with 86 points, and 5th in the table according to my calculations.

Vegalta Sendai (80p) :
Shonan (H)
Kyoto (A)
Tokushima (H)

Shonan and Tokushima are teams Vegalta normally would win against, and their current form suggests that will be the case this time around as well. Kyoto away is a very tough match, and neither of the teams can afford to lose. It might be a long-shot, but I have the feeling that one will end like a draw. That would leave Vegalta with 2-1-0 on their last 3 matches. That means 87 points and a 3rd/4th place finish.

Cerezo Osaka (78p) :
Thespa (A)
Mito (A)
Verdy (H)
Cerezo are currently in superb form, and shouldn't have much trouble overcoming both Thespa and Mito away. However, Thespa is a tough team to beat, and a draw there ( or at Mito) would put an end to Cerezo's promotion chances. But my guess is they will win both those matches, which means their home game vs Verdy is a heaven or hell match. Cerezo have lost all 3 matches against Verdy this season, with a goal aggregate of 0-8. So things doesn't look too promising with that in mind. But for this match, Verdy will be without Hulk, who's Verdy's only real threat up front. That, and Cerezo's great form and the importance of the match, plus the most likely big crowd ( perhaps 30 000+), things could easily turn into Cerezo's favour.
So, Cerezo winning all their remaining 3 matches would mean they will end up with 87 points, and a 3rd/4th place finish.

That means goal difference will have to separate Cerezo and Vegalta which now is exactly the same ( +18 for both teams). but Vegalta hardly scores nowadays, and Cerezo have 3 matches they "will win" , which should see Cerezo steal the 3rd place ahead of Vegalta.

That would result in this table:

1. Consadole 91p
2. Verdy 88p
3. Cerezo 87p
4. Vegalta 87p
5. Kyoto 86p

It might be a little wishful thinking, but certainly a highly possible scenario!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cerezo Osaka vs Avispa Fukuoka 11/11

All the goals from the 4-0 thrashing of Avispa at home.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cerezo Osaka 4 - Avispa Fukuoka 0

A season high attendance of 20 000+

Cerezo had no problems beating a surprisingly poor Avispa side last round, when they beat them 4-0. The first 30 minutes were quite evenly contested, as neither of the teams looked to be taking any chances. Avispa actually had the biggest chances, especially with Alex who were the only player on the Avispa side that looked to cause Cerezo any problems. Luckily for the home team, his finishing weren't on par this match, and non of his shots really troubled Yoshida in the Cerezo goal.
Cerezo broke the deadlock in the 30th minute through Yasuhito Morishima who scored his 6th goal of the season. The architects behind it were Hamada and Kagawa, who combined well before Kagawa fired off a shot that rebounded off the post. Morishima had an easy task of placing the ball in the now wide-open goal.

Just before the break, MF Ale had to retire for the day, and were replaced by Kenjiro Ezoe.
Ale is probably out for the rest of Cerezo's matches this season, as he's expected to be sidelined for approximately 3 weeks.

In the 2nd half, Cerezo's superior form and fitness became clearer and clearer, and the home team took more and more over. The Avispa players looked very tired, and found it hard to keep up iwth the energetic young Cerezo players like Kagawa, who once again had a brilliant day at work. In the 73rd minute, Kagawa found Yanagisawa with a perfectly timed through-pass and Yanagisawa made no mistake alone with the goalkeeper. 2-0, and that was Yanagisawa's first ever goal for Cerezo. Cerezo were now on a run, and just 2 minutes later Kagawa made it 3-0 after Kokeguchi found him with a looping pass from the right. Kagawa's shot, who most likely would have ended up on the outside of the post, were deflected by a Avispa defender into the net.

With the victory in hands, Cerezo slowed down a little, but got their 4th in hte 89th minute through a header from Germano. Ze Carlos found Germano with an in-swinger and the brazilian easily placed his header past the Avispa keeper. Cerezo even scored one more goal in injury-time, but the ball deflected off Kagawa's hand and were rightly disallowed.
Cerezo outshot Avispa 17-10 and looked really good. That promises well for the remaining 3 matches.

Cerezo: Y.Morishima 30, Yanagisawa 73 ( Kagawa), Kagawa 75 ( Kokeguchi), Germano 89 ( Ze Carlos)

Cards: C: Germano, Furuhashi yellow - A: 3 yellow
Shots: Cerezo 17 - Avispa 10

Cerezo lineup:
GK: Yoshida
DF: Yanagisawa, Maeda, Haneda, Ze Carlos
MF: Hamada, Ale, Germano, Kagawa
FW: Y.Morishima, Furuhashi

Substitutes for Cerezo:
Ale --> Kenjiro Ezoe 42
Y.Morishima --> Takuya Kokeguchi 72
T. Furuhashi --> Noriyuki Sakemoto 79

Attendance: 20,170 ( Impressive! )

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cerezo Osaka - Avispa Fukuoka Preview

Probable squads ( Cerezo in white)

In their last meeting back in september, Cerezo took a narrow win in Fukuoka. The first half was pretty evenly contested, with Cerezo looking the brightest among the teams. Especially the youngster Shinji Kagawa had a good day, impressing with some nice dribbling on the wing. We didn't saw that many chances, as both teams took a careful approach to the game.
8 minutes into the 2nd half, Rui Komatsu scored his 9th goal of the season to give Cerezo the lead. He was played free by Ale, and firmly put the ball behind the Avispa keeper with a nice one-touch finish. After the goal, Cerezo switched to a more defensive formation, but still managed to put the Avispa defence under pressure on a couple of counter-attacks. As usual, Cerezo did a good job in defence, and Avispa never really looked like scoring.
Cerezo had 13 shots to Avispa's 7.The other match in Fukuoka ended 2-2, while Cerezo won the first match at home pretty comfortably 2-0. All previous meetings gives us 2-2-1 for Cerezo.
Cerezo are still in very good form and ave 9-2-1 on last 6. After they fell 2-1 to Vegalta a couple of weeks ago, they’ve clocked up 2 straight wins. Their home form is really good with 5-1-0 on last 6 and 9-1-0 on last 10. Avispa are not in the best of forms, with only 4 points in their last 4 matches. But to their defence they’ve met 3 of the top 4 in those matches. Their away form is not much to brag about either with only 1-1-4 on last 6.
Cerezo are most likely without Kakitani for this match as he’s busy with the U-18 NT.Kakitani have been an important member lately for Cerezo and received much playing time the last few months. In for him will most likely Y.Morishima come, which necessarily isn’t a bad thing. Avispa are still without Lincoln, but for this match their topscorer Alex is back.

Players to watch:
Cerezo: Shinji Kagawa - the young and very impressive dribbler on the flank have been constantly good ever since he broke into the 1st team in May. He doesn't score that much, but creates alot of chances for his team-mates. Expect many dribbling raids from this very talentful midfielder.
Avispa: Alex - the little brazilian have scored 24 goals already this season, but here he's without his regular partner Lincoln.It's most likely up to Alex to produce the goods if Avispa have hopes of stealing points here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

J2 round 48 Match Reports

Quite late but, here are the reports from last round's matches:

Ehime FC
Consadole Sapporo
0 - 1
Consadole took their 4th win in a row last round when they did just enough to beat Ehime away with 1-0. Consadole, who were without some of their more creative players took a very defensive stance to the match, and we saw relatively few big chances for either teams.
For being the home-team, Ehime looked very cautious in their build-up, and it became clear early in the match that we wouldn’t see many goals. In fact, we had to wait until injury-time before we got the only goal of the match which came through substitute Nishi. Nishi, who had just returned from a short stay in Brazil for this match, came on for the tiring Okamoto with 20 minutes left to play, and his marvellous shot from distance left the Ehime keeper with no chance. Whether it was a deserved win is another story, and a draw might have been the ”correct” result. Consadole outshot Ehime 10-9 and looks almost certain now to join J1 next season.
Vegalta Sendai
Avispa Fukuoka
Hiroki Bandai once again came to the rescue for Vegalta, as they overcame a visiting Avispa side in a evenly played match. This was Vegalta’s 3rd win in a row, and they look set to finish top 3 if they can maintain their form. But Vegalta got both Verdy and Sanga left, and losses against them will most likely see Vegalta end outside top 3.
In a match with plenty chances for both teams, Bandai,who scored his 13th goal of the season, were the only one who managed to score as his shot 8 minutes into the 2nd half were too good for the Avispa keeper. Both teams were missing some important offensive players, and we would probably have seen more goals if the likes of Vegalta’s Lopes and Avispa’s Lincoln and Alex have played. Vegalta seems to be some sort of a bogey team for Avispa, as they have lost all their 4 matches against them. Vegalta just managed to outshoot Avispa with 15-13.
Montedio Yamagata
Shonan Bellmare
Montedio’s poor form continued when they lost 0-1 at home against Shonan. Montedio, who’ve only taken 1 point in their last 7 matches might feel they deserved more from this, as it was all over a very evenly played match. It was a rough match, with especially Shonan playing hard. 5 Shonan players received yellow cards, and it could easily have been a few red ones as well. The only goal came 15 minutes into the 2nd half, as Shonan’s brazilian FW Eduardo Marquez scored his 4th goal of the season. Kato’s corner-kick found Eduardo unmarked in the box, and the brazilian made no mistake.
Shonan dominated the first half, and could easily have been both 1 and 2 up by half-time. However, after the goal, Montedio took more and more over and came very close on a couple of counter-attacks.Both teams had 11 shots. Shonan still got a theoretically chance of finishing 3rd, but whatever happens in their last matches they got to be satisfied with their performance this season.
Sagan Tosu
Kyoto Sanga F.C.
3 - 0
The most surprising result of the round were the 3-0 win for Sagan over Sanga at home. Sanga looked to be in a fairly good position of making it top 2, but things looks much harder now.
Sagan opened the match in a very high tempo, and the visitors looked stunned from the very first minute. It took a while before we saw the first goal though, which came in the 25th minute through Sagan’s very impressive striker Yoshihiro Fujita. Fujita received a through-pass from Takahashi and made no mistake to make it 1-0. 5 minutes later it was 2-0 to Sagan as a direct shot from the korean FW Kim flew past Ueno in the Kyoto goal.
Sagan were on a roll now, and scored a 3rd immediately after that. Once again Takahashi in the Sagan midfield were the architect, as his lob-pass found Kato who easily made it 3-0.
Kyoto’s coach Miura imediately made 2 substitutions and things became more even after that. In the 2nd half, Sanga were marginally the better team, but the players looked like they already knew the game were lost. But despite the big win for Sagan, the game weren’t as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. Sagan outshot Sanga 13-12.
Thespa Kusatsu
Tokyo Verdy 1969
Thespa managed to stop Verdy’s run out of 8 consecutive wins with a late goal in injury-time. Thespa played quite good this match, and took an early lead through their brazilian FW Careca. Careca scored his first ever goal for Thespa ( in his 15th appearance) with a nice header after Yuki Matsushita found him with a corner in the 9th minute. But Thespa weren’t ahead for long as Hulk equalized with a a nice solo-effort in the 26th minute. by half-time the score were still 1-1, but both teams could easily have scored a couple of more goals. Hulk made it 1-2 midway through the 2nd half after a nice through-pass from Diego. Verdy now looked on route to another easy win, as they were the dominating side. but Thespa didn’t give up, and in injury-time Takada beat 2 Verdy defenders in the air after a cross from Akiba. That was pretty much the last that happened, and 2-2 is a fair result between 2 hard-fighting teams.Thespa outshot Verdy 14-12.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tokushima Vortis 0 - Cerezo Osaka 2 (28.10-2007)

Cerezo are in a position where they have to win all the remaining matches now, and they had few problems beating Tokushima 2-0 away Sunday. Levir Culpi had made some tactical changes since last match, like replacing out-of-form striker Komatsu with Kakitani from the start, as well as giving Kota Fujimoto a rare start in midfield, which led to Germano taking place on the wing. Because of this, Cerezo looked pretty bad in the first half, and struggled to find their usual rhythm to build up attacks. Tokushima had the most possession, but didn't come to any dangerous situations.

With the team struggling so much, Culpi decided to change back to their normal tactic this match, replacing Fujimoto with Sakemoto. Now Germano and Ale were back in centre midfield, and things suddenly looked much better. Cerezo switched their play more and more to the wings, and came to several chances.

But we had to wait until midway through the 2nd half for the opening goal. Ze Carlos's freekick from the right reached Germano, who with ease headed the ball past the Tokushima keeper.
After the goal, the tempo slowed down a bit, and Tokushima had trouble breaking through the compact Cerezo defence. The times they came to chances, Yoshida in the goal had no problems dealing with it. Also Kakitani left the pitch, and in came Komatsu. Komatsu and Furuhashi have built a very good partnership over the season, and their combination play is a joy to watch.

Right before the end, Cerezo made it 2-0 through Ze Carlos. The technical brazilian dribbled his way through a few Tokushima defenders before calmly placing the ball behind the keeper in the 89th minute. That was the last of action we saw, and it was a well-deserved win. Cerezo outshot Tokushima 14-9.

After the match, Culpi stated something needed to be made after the break, as his tactical changes didn't paid off. Next up is Avispa Fukuoka at home, but that's not before 2 weeks from now. With Kyoto losing 3-0 (!) at Sagan, we're only 3 points behind them now, and 4 points behind Vegalta in 3rd. Our goal difference still needs to be improved, and Vegalta/Kyoto need to drop points in atleast 2 more matches. But everything is possible, and our chances were strengtened after this round.

J2 round 48:
C: Germano (Ze Carlos) 71 , Ze Carlos 89

Cerezo lineup:
GK: Yoshida
DF: Yanagisawa,Maeda,Ezoe,Ze Carlos
MF: Fujimoto,Ale,Germano,Kagawa
FW: Kakitani,Furuhashi

Fujimoto ---> Sakemoto 45
Kakitani ---> Komatsu 73

Shots: Tokushima 9 / Cerezo 14
Cards: T: 1 yellow / C: Ze Carlos, Yanagisawa yellow
Attendance: 4807