Saturday, September 29, 2007

J2 Round 43 Previews- Sunday's Games



Ehime FC
-
Tokushima Vortis


Their last meeting was just over a month ago, and ended 1-1. Ehime, who played away, must find themselves most happy with that result, as Tokushima overall were the best team and had the biggest chances. The first half didn’t deliver much action, as neither of the teams looked like taking to many risks up front. 15 minutes into the 2nd half, Ehime scored on one of their first real chances as Susume Oki (who recently returned from injury) beat Tokushima’s offside-trap to give the away team the lead. Just after that, Tokushima made some offensive changes which immediately paid off. Ishida, one of the substitutes found himself free inside the box and made no mistake alone with the Ehime keeper. Tokushima continued to pressure Ehime, but eventually ran out of stamina. A fair result in this Shikoku-derby, but if anyone deserved the win it was Toksuhima who outshot Ehime 10-9.
Tokushima won the 2 other previous meetings this season 1-0 away and 2-1 at home. All previous meetings gives us 3-2-2 for Ehime. Usually when these teams meet, we see few goals, so I would expect another low-scoring contest here.
Ehime’s form is not so bad, considering they’ve met 5 of the top 7 teams in their last 5 matches. That gave them 1-2-2, which is more than Ehime realistically could hope for. They were lucky to win at Vegalta last round though. Their home form is 1-3-2, but as a total this season, they have the 2nd worst home-record. Not much better For Tokushima away, who are 2nd worst there, with only 3 wins. On their last 6 away they got 0-2-4, with only 2 scored goals. On the positive note, they have only conceded 21 goals from home, which is 2nd best in the league.
Their form in general is not bad at all, but most of their points have been taken at home.
It’s a pretty open match, which most likely will be a low-scoring one.
DRAW
Mito Hollyhock
-
Vegalta Sendai

Mito get 2 important players back from suspension for this, which might boost their chances.
In their last meeting, Vegalta disappointed with only managing 1-1 home. Mito surprisingly took the lead in the 21st minute but Vegalta equalized just minutes later through Lopes. It was a very exciting contest, and to be fair, Vegalta were by far the better team. Vegalta had a total of 17 shots on goal, but the Mito keeper Honma, who during the summer suddenly have become a really good goalkeeper, denied Vegalta their 2nd goal. Mito came close to win it in the dying minutes with a big chance, but Kobari, who stands in for the injured Schneider in the Vegalta goal, made a marvellous save to keep it 1-1. Vegalta should have won it, but can only blame themselves for not to.
Vegalta won the 2 other matches pretty easily 2-0 at home and 3-1 away. All previous meetings gives us 5-2-0 for Vegalta, who with that has a very good record against Mito.
Mito have played some decent football lately, but unfortunately for them they haven’t been able to pick up any points. Now they have 5 losses in a row, and will most likely end last this season. Their home form is not so bad though, with 1-2-3 on last 6.
Vegalta very surprisingly lost home against 10-man Ehime last round, but looked pretty solid before that. On their last 6 they got 4-1-1. They got a problem up front though, with only 5 goals in those 6 matches. Away Vegalta got 3-1-2. Despite some encouraging play of late, I think Mito will struggle against Vegalta here. Vegalta has a psychological advantage over them with their unbeaten record over them, and are on paper a much more talented team. But, Vegalta proved they’re able to screw up against the smaller teams last round, and Mito have made some impressive wins over big teams before.
VEGALTA WIN
Tokyo Verdy 1969
-
Consadole Sapporo

In their last meeting, Tokyo travelled to Sapporo for their match against league-leaders Consadole. The game ended 2-2, after a very thrilling end to the game. By the 85th minute, the game were still scoreless. Consadole scored first, and probably thought the game was won with such a late goal. Tokyo only needed 1 minute to equalize though, through Hulk, who just 3 minutes later scored again to put Tokyo up in a 2-1 lead. The drama wasn’t over yet though, and Consadole replied immediately from a corner kick to take the teams level again. A stunning end to an exciting match. Both teams approached the game with an offensive line-up, and the play almost constantly switched from side to side. Consadole had 13 shots to Tokyo’s 12, so it was a fair result after all. Hulk was once again the MOM for Tokyo. Consadole won the 2 other matches this season 1-0 away and 4-3 at home.
Consadole are also the superior team overall, with 5-1-1 on all previous meetings.
For Consadole, Tokyo’s home form probably looks intimidating wit 5-1-0 on last 6. Verdy got 5-2-0 on last 7 matches as well, so they are in really good form. Consadole on the other hand, went 5 matches without winning, picking up only 1 point before they in midweek beat Montedio 3-0 at home.Their away form is so-so, with 3-0-3 on last 6.
Both teams have few injuries to worry about, so it should be competitive match. Consadole especially have used the same players all season, something which indicate their poor performance lately. I think Consadole is in need of a good start here and perhaps an early goal if they are to defeat Verdy. They have been one of few teams this season able to neautralize Hulk, so we might be in for a low-scoring contest.
DRAW

J2 Round 43 Previews- Saturday's Games



Montedio Yamagata
-
Avispa Fukuoka

Last time they met, Avispa won 3-0 at home. The scoreline might be a bit flattering, as Montedio actually outshot Avispa 12-7. Alex opened the scoring in the 18th minute after some nice pair-work with Lincoln. But by that time, Montedio had already had some big chances to score themselves. Montedio played some decent football, but poor finishin skill let them down. Avispa took more over after the break again, and 2 quick goals from Lincoln made it 3-0. According to play, Montedio might have deserved more, but the Avispa players looked much more hungry for goals and won deservedly according to that.
The other match in Fukuoka ended 1-1, while Avispa won 2-1 in their first away match.
Montedio’s form is not so bad, they actually had 3 wins in a row before the 0-3 loss at Consadole last round. Their home form is 3-0-3. Avispa away only got 1-2-3, but took their first win in 6 matches last round. I think Montedio will still suffer due to the loss of their prolific striker Toyoda, as well as injuries to some other important members. Avispa can field their usual line-up, and I doubt they will lose this one. Montedio showed great spirit prior to the Consadole match though, and might steal a point.
AVISPA WIN
Sagan Tosu
-
Thespa Kusatsu

Their last meeting was just over a month ago, as Sagan travelled to Thespa. It was a cracker of game, with tons of chances for both teams. The play shifted from side to side almost constantly, and it was never clear who would be the winner. Sagan opened best though, and were 2-0 up b the 21st minute after goals from Takachi and Iio. Thespa weren’t all lost themselves, and could easily have scored a couple of goals by then. They got one back jsut before the break, as Takada made it 1-2. Thespa DF Chika scored 15 minutes into the 2nd half to even the score, which proved to be the last goal of the match. If not for some impressive goalkeeping at both ends, plus some poor finishing, we would probably have seen alot more goals in this one. Thespa had 21 shots on goal to Sagan’s 19. The other game in Thespa also ended a draw, this time 1-1. Sagan won their home match pretty easily 2-0. All previous meetings gives us 3-3-1 for Sagan.
Sagan’s home form is pretty good, with 4-1-1 on last 6.After some nice results a few weeks ago, they’ve only picked up 1 point from their last 3 matches. Thespa almost never wins, which 1 victory in their last 18 games tells us, and they got 5 games in a row without a victory now. their away form is 1-3-2. Both teams are missing their best defender, which could open things up at both ends.
SAGAN WIN
Shonan Bellmare
-
Kyoto Sanga F.C.

In their last meeting, Shonan lost 2-1 away at Kyoto, after Kyoto came back from 0-1 to win it. Shonan took the lead in the 30th minute through Jean, and kept it like that till half-time. Kyoto didn’t create much the first half, but came out a complete new team after the break. Within 9 minutes of the 2nd half, they had scored 2 quick goals and were suddenly in the lead. Jean, who scored Shonan’s goal, went from hero to villain as he produced the free-kick on the 2-1 goal for Kyoto. The other match in Kyoto ended 0-0, while Kyoto took a very convincing 4-2 win away.That’s all the meetings ever between them. Shonan’s home form is a solid 3-2-1, with only 3 conceded goals in those matches. They’ve only won 1 one their last 5 matches though, and were lucky not to lose against Cerezo last round. Kyoto have 3-1-2 away, and hasn’t really been firing on all sylinders themselves lately. They won against the 2 minnows ( Ehime and Mito) before losing 1-2 at home against Tokyo last round.
Kyoto must manage without Kakuda in defence, which have been a prominent figure in the team this season. It’s a very open match, and with a win Shonan might still be in the run for promotion this season, as they managed a draw last round. Kyoto have a game in hand on the others teams at the top, and since they are still in 2nd, they can afford a loss here.
SHONAN WIN

J2 Round 42 Match Reports - The Rest

Avispa Fukuoka
-
Mito Hollyhock
3-2
After only 1 point in 6 games, Avispa finally won again when they had Mito at home. Or home might be an exaggeration, as they played the match nearby Nagasaki, which is actually closer to Mito than to Fukuoka. With that, only 2700 spectators showed up, which is 1/5th of Avispa’s usual crowd. Mito opened the game best, and took a deserved lead, when Mito topscorer Shiozawa scored his 6th goal of the season in the 21st minute. Shiozawa beautifully headed home a cross from Shingyoji to give Mito the lead. Avispa seemed stunned by this, and struggled to make a gameplan of their own for the rest of the half.
Coach Pierre Littbarski made some tactical changes at half-time, which almost immediately paid off. Avispa looked far more dangerous in the 2nd half, and in the 59th minute they got their opening goal through Jogo. 4 minutes later, Avispa were up 3-1 after goals from their brazilians strikers Alex and Lincoln. A real ketchup-effect for the home team. Now it was Mito that were stunned, but they never gave up and replied immediately on the Avispa goals through newcomer Nakamura, who scored his first ever goal in his 2nd appearance for Mito. But despite big pressure from Mito for the rest of the game, Avispa managed to stay in the lead and took a much-needed win. Avispa had 12 shots to Mito’s 8.
Consadole Sapporo
-
Montedio Yamagata
3-0
After only 1 point in 5 games, and some humiliating defeats (including losing 3-0 away at Tokushima and Bellmare), Consadole finally won again home against Montedio. Consadole looked much better than last time out, when they were thrashed by Bellmare, but weren’t great. Coach Miura finally brought some fresh blood into the team, as korean MF Chong made his debut. Chong did a very good job, and co-operated well with the other Consadole midfielders. Consadole opened the scoring right before the break, as an inspiring Seiya Fujita found Davi with a cross, who easily headed the ball home. A minute into the 2nd half, Fujita again found Davi, this time from a corner, who scored also his 2nd goal from a nice header.
By this time, Montedio knew they weren’t to get much from this, and fell deep to keep the loss at a minimum. Consadole seemed happy with the 2-0 lead, so we didn’t saw much action for the rest of the match until Fujita made it 3-0 in the 83rd minute. It was a really beautiful goal, and Sunakawa found Fujita at the edge of the box, who slashed home a volley to make it 3-0. A very poor Montedio side, who had 3 wins in a row before this, had to see themselves be humiliated against a Consadole team back-on-track. Consadole outshot Montedio 12-5.
Kyoto Sanga F.C.
-
Tokyo Verdy 1969
1-2
Verdy continued their good form when they travelled to Kyoto last round. Kyoto who’s in 2nd, has been very erratic in their performances lately, and after 2 wins in a row lost again here. Once again, Hulk were the man to stop on Verdy, something the Kyoto defence struggled with the opening half.
After only 8 minutes, Hulk out-run the Kyoto defenders and found Kazu Iio free in the box who only had to tap the ball in. 15 minutes later Hulk decided to do it on his own, as he shrugged off a Kyoto defender to make it 2-0. The hometeam were stunned, but eventually regained momentum and were able to neautralize Verdy’s only real threat, Hulk.
Paulinho made it 1-2 with a beautiful lob right before the break, and should have equalized as well as he missed a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity on practically an open goal midway through the 2nd half. Overall, Kyoto looked the best team in the 2nd half, but some poor finishing from especially Andrè, who had a bad day, let them down. Kyoto outshot Verdy 15-10.
Tokushima Vortis
-
Sagan Tosu
2 - 2
Already by the 3rd minute, Tokushima had scored 2 goals against Sagan at home. But that was pretty much it for their sake, as Sagan took over after that. Tokushima scored first by Takahashi, before Ishida made it 2-0 a few minutes later. Although Sagan put the home team under alot of pressure, the score were still 2-0 by half-time. Tokushima had been putting on some nice displays lately, only losing one of their last 5 games. But many games in relative short time have been tiring on their players, which we sae in the 2nd half here when Sagan were in complete control. Sagan got one back in the 62nd minute through their topscorer Fujita, who also scored the equalizer with 10 minutes left to play on a nice solo-raid. fujita should have made it a hattrick, but lacked precision in his finish alone with the keeper in injury-time. Sagan had 15 shots to Tokushima’s 7, and might have deserved the win. They will probably be happy anyway for coming back being 2 goals behind.
Vegalta Sendai
-
Ehime FC
0 - 1
The biggest upset of the round was clearly Ehime’s victory over Vegalta away. Vegalta dominated the game from start to finish, creating tons of chances. In the 30th minute, Ehime defender Aono were sent off for a professional foul as well, making a big home-win even more likely. But as have been the case lately, Vegalta yet again struggled to find the net. They squandered several 100% chances, and lacked focus in the finishing moment. As often happens when 1 team press with all their might, it leaves things open at the other end for swift counter-attacks. Ehime got one or two of these, and maximised on one of them in the 73rd minute as Uchimura raced forward to finish off a cross from the right. A major upset for Vegalta, who needs to win about every game if they want a direct promotion spot. Their coach is still very positive about their chances, as there are 9 matches left to play. Vegalta outshot Ehime 24-6, and should have won it big.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cerezo Osaka 2 - Shonan Bellmare 2




Goals:
Cerezo: Furuhashi (15), Maeda (59) (Ze Carlos)
Shonan: Adiel (55), Kato (65)

Cerezo Lineup:
GK: Yoshida
DF:Yanagisawa, Maeda,Haneda,Ze Carlos
MF: Sakemoto,Ale,Germano,Kagawa
FW:Furuhashi,Komatsu

Subs for Cerezo:
Sakemoto ---> Hamada (65)
Komatsu ---> Y.Morishima (65)
Yellow Cards: Germano / 6 for Shonan
Shots: Cerezo 18 / Shonan 7

Attendance: 5142

A little bit disappointing result for Cerezo, who deserved more than a point here.Cerezo outshot Shonan 18-7, and had more than enough chances to win this. Credit to Shonan for being very efficient up front, and defending reasonably well.

Cerezo looked to continue their great run of form as they took an early lead through topscorer Furuhashi. It was a cracker of a goal, as his freekick from the edge of the box flew straight into the corner. Cerezo looked for a second goal, and came close on several occasions after some nice wing-play. But some of the players looked very tired, among them Shinji Kagawa on the left-wing. With the season closing in, fatigue seems to be a problem for many teams, who have used the same players for all the matches this season. So, by halftime the score was 1-0, with Cerezo being the dominant team.

The 2nd half proved to be a bit more evenly contested, as Shonan came out more attacking. The switch in tactic paid off in the 55th minute, as Adiel headed home a beautiful cross from the right to make it 1-1. But just 4 minutes later, Cerezo regained their lead as a Ze Carlos's freekick found Kazuya Maeda, who tapped it home. The Shonan keeper might should have done better on it though. But only 6 minutes later the score was levelled again. Substitute Kato, who had just come on, scored on one of his first touches after a cross from the right. Ze Carlos is a very good player, but he often leaves too much space open for the opposite team's winger which leads to dangerous situations like today's 2 goals. But his offensive contributions usually makes up for that.

After that it was all about Cerezo, and when Morishima was fouled by the Shonan GK inside the box, everyone thought that Furuhashi would make it 3-2. But the keeper picked the right corner, and kept the score at 2-2. Kagawa had some chances as well, bt were denied by the more and more impressive Shonan keeper. So, although Cerezo got a point they must find themselves very disappointed not to win this one. Now they enter a 2 week break from league action, as they have a bye next round, and the weekend after it's cup-round. But they proved here that their form is still great, which will be good to have when they meet Consadole,Kyoto and Vegalta after the break. The crowd was a bit disappointing this round, as just over 5000 went to see the match. That it was a mid-week game might have affected the numbers though, and it will probably be atleast 3 times higher against Consadole in 2 weeks time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

J2 Round 42 - Previews



Cerezo Osaka
-
Shonan Bellmare

The last meeting was quite even, and still deadlocked after the first half. Both teams looked sharp in defence, and it could go either way. Then, only 10 minutes into the 2nd half, Kato of Shonan finally opened the scoring with a nice finish to make it 1-0 to Shonan. This happened in a good Shonan period, and it looked to be heading for a home win. Cerezo came close a couple of times later in the game, but for the 14th time this season they had to see themselves beaten.Shonan outshot Cerezo 14-9 this game, and it would be fair to say it was a deserved home win. In fact, since that game, Cerezo have won 6 games in row.
Shonan won both the 2 previous meetings as well. The first one 2-1 at home, before a thrashing 4-1 win in Osaka.With that being the only times these teams have met, Shonan actually has a perfect record against Cerezo.
However, Cerezo are the form-team nr. 1 in the league. 6 wins in a row makes them a hot promotion candidate, and their home form is even better 7 wins in a row there. Shonan away got 3-0-3 on last 6, and although they beat league leaders Consadole 3-0 last match, they only have 1 win in their last 5.
Cerezo gets 2 important defenders back from suspension, which will be much-needed if they want to stop Shonan. With 3/3 wins, Shonan has a psychological advantage over Cerezo, but with the form Cerezo is in now, I don’t really think it matters. Cerezo are favorites here, due to home-advantage ( and probably a very big crowd), superior form and in general more to play for. With that being said, Shonan can with a win still have a chance on atleast 3rd place. Both Shonan and Cerezo have pretty solid defences, and among the best defensive records in the league. With so much on stake here as well, I think we’ll see 2 cautious teams.
CEREZO WIN
Avispa Fukuoka
-
Mito Hollyhock

In their last meeting, Mito were the best team overall and had most chances, while Avispa was disappointed for losing 2 points to on paper, an inferior opposition. The game itself was pretty well played, with good defending from both teams. Surprisingly, Mito withstood everything Avispa threw at them and looked for once pretty solid at the back. So, it was Mito who opened the scoring 18 minutes into the 2nd half through substitute Shingyoji. His piledriver from long range bounced off a defender, and left the Avispa keeper stranded for Shingyoji to put in the rebound. Mito looked to be in control at this stage, and they produced even more chances and should have made it a 2 goal lead. But with a minute left to play, Nunobe poked in the equalizer for Avispa to save the single point for them . Avispa were outshot 18-10 though, and might have gotten more than they deserved from this.
The 2 other meetings this season both ended in big wins for Avispa, 3-0 at home and 4-1 away. That’s the only times these teams have met so far.
Avispa’s form is really really bad now, only taking 1 point on their last 6 matches. They have fallen completely out of the promotion race, and looks nowhere near as the team they used to be. Their home form is 3-0-3 on last 6, and all their latest game at home were low-scoring ones. The same goes with Mito, who have been very good defensively lately. Their away record is 1-2-3, but they never lost big or were outplayed. Mito have now 4 losses in a row, but as earlier mentioned they have played pretty positive football.
Against Avispa they are missing 3 important midfielders, plus some long-term injuries in defence. Avispa can field a pretty strong squad here, and should win this easily on paper. They did very good in the 2 first matches against Mito, but were lucky not to lose last time.
AVISPA WIN
Consadole Sapporo
-
Montedio Yamagata

The last meeting were a pretty even one, with Consadole doing just enough to claim the win. Consadole took an early lead through MF Ishii, who scored beautifully after a pass from Ikeuchi. The play shifted from side to side after that, but no real scoring chances came, so it was 0-1 at the break. The 2nd half had more action though. First in the 52nd minute, when Takagi produced a great save to deny Miyazawa a goal from the penaltyspot. In fact, it was Montedio that looked the sharper teams among them, but everytime they were denied by Takagi in the goal. A hard-working,but a bit fortunate win for Consadole who outshot Montedio 11-10.
Consadole also won the other away match 1-0, while at home they could only manage 1-1. All previous meetings gives us 3-4-0 for Consadole, who clearly got the upper hand over Montedio. Consadole’s form however, is so-so. They haven’t won since their last match against Montedio actually, only picking up 1 point from 5 games. It reached a low against Shonan, when they were outplayed in every single way. Their home form is only 1-3-2, which is not a firstplaced team worthy. Montedio on the other hand, have had a couple of good matches lately, with 3-1-0 on last 4. Their away form is a solid 2-3-1.
Consadole get back 2 or 3 very important players for this match though, while Montedio must play without their best man in defence as well as their top striker. It’s a very hard match to predict, as Consadole are on paper the best team, but their form says a win for Montedio. But with injuries/suspension, it suddenly looks more like a Consadole win again.
CONSADOLE WIN
Kyoto Sanga F.C.
-
Tokyo Verdy 1969

Last meeting, Kyoto and Tokyo shared the spoils in what was a very competitive match. Both teams came up with some good football, and it was tight all the way to the end. Good goalkeeping ( and defending) kept either of the teams from scoring before the break. We didn’t see the first goal before in the 73rd minute, as Tokushige of Verdy poked in the opener. Kyoto geared up a bit after that, and came to some big chances at the end. When they finally equalized in the 89th minute through defender Tiago, it was well-deserved. A draw seemed most fair as both teams had played some nice football through the match. Tokyo had 14 shots to Kyoto’s 12.
Kyoto won the other match in Tokyo with the a 3-1 score, while at home, they were hammered 4-1 by Verdy. All previous meetings gives us 3-1-1 for Verdy.
Kyoto’s form has been varying a bit lately, but still they have managed to picked up some points.They have 2 wins in a row now, but both were against minor teams. So it might be too early to say they are in their usual good-form again. At home, they got 3-2-1 on last 6. Verdy got 4-2-0 on last 6 matches, and also looks to be in solid form. In their last match against Mito however, they were practically given the win by the referee. Away they haven’t been just as good, with only 1-3-2 on last 6.
Kyoto can here field their best line-up possible, while Tokyo are still without their preferred GK plus Nagai in midfield. Verdy won the first meeting in Kyoto, but this time I think home-advantage will tip the result into Kyoto’s favour. Tokyo’s away form is not good at all, and although Kyoto have been on and off lately as well, I’ll give them my tip.
KYOTO WIN
Tokushima Vortis
-
Sagan Tosu

Last meeting, Tokushima travelled to Tosu and they lost 2-1 in a match short on chances. Sagan took the lead midway through the 1st half on one of their first chances. Tokushima didn’t had a single chance for the entire 1st half, and looked generally poor in attack. Sagan doubled their lead in the 63rd minute, and controlled the game. Neither of the teams created much though, before Tokushima put one back in the 89th minute. Nothing more happened after that, and I guess it was a deserved win.Sagan outshot Tokushima 7-6.
Sagan also won the first home match, 1-0. Away it ended 1-1, which was a fair result.
All previous meetings gives us 5-2-0 for Sagan, and the matches usually offers few goals ( average of 2,0). Tokushima’s form is quite good actually, with 2-3-1 on last 6. They lost their last match away at Montedio. Home form is 2-1-3. Sagan have lost 2 in a row now, and their away form is only 1-2-3. Sagan are missing some men in defence, but Tokushima’s attack isn’t exactly intimidating, so they should be able to cope with them anyway. However, Tokushima can on their day beat anyone, which 3-0 wins over Verdy and Consadole suggests.
SAGAN WIN
Vegalta Sendai
-
Ehime FC

Last meeting, Ehime took a very surprising 3-0 win against Vegalta at home. It was top vs bottom and the highest scoring team against the least-scoring one. Against all logic though, Ehime scored as many as 3 goals which were just as many as they’ve scored in their latest 8 games. The first goal came midway through the 1st half, as FW Susume Oki broke through to slash it home. Vegalta looked stunned by the goal, and needed some time to get back into the match. As it happened, they did create some big chances at the end of the first half, and if they had scored the game would probably have looked much different. Ehime doubled their lead right after the break, as centreback Kondo rose to head it past the Vegalta keeper. This was a major blow for Vegalta, who were looking for the equalizer. As it happened, they didn’t manage to create much as Ehime packed their defence. As Vegalta pushed on, Ehime scored their 3rd on a counter attack in the 83rd minute through Josimar, who had come off the bench to replace scorer Oki. Nothing more happened, and it was deserved as Ehime outshot Vegalta 14-9. However, in the 2 other meetings, Vegalta won big with 3-0 at home and 4-0 away. All previous meetings gives us 5-1-1 for Vegalta, so the win last time around was probably just a fluke. Vegalta’s form is quite good now, with 4-2-0 on last 6. However, they struggle to score goals ( only 1 goal pr.game). Their home form is only 2-2-2. Ehime hasn’t won since the 3-0 win over Vegalta, which is 7 rounds ago.Away they haven’t won for 6 matches, and has 0-3-3 on their latest.
Sooner or later, Vegalta has to start scoring goals as well, and they got a pretty good opportunity to do that here, home against a relative poor opponent without 3 important members.
VEGALTA WIN

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Round 41 Match Reports - the rest



Mito Hollyhock - Tokyo Verdy 1969 1-2
Verdy took a very fortunate win away against Mito this weekend. Not that they weren’t the best team, Verdy outshot Mito 21 to 5. It’s more the way the goals came and the obviously biased ( or some might say even corrupt) referee who did everything he could to secure Verdy the win.
Mito played a very good first half, and it was deserved when they took the lead in the 18th minute through midfielder Suzuki. Mito defended extremely well, and were able to keep the Verdy strikers at bay. But as time were running, and Verdy didn’t really look like scoring despite many chances, the referee decided to give them a little help. In the 58th minute as a Mito player and a Verdy player collided in the air inside the penaltybox, Verdy received a penalty to everyone’s surprise. If that incident should have been called, it should have been a free-kick to Mito. After some heavy protests from the Mito players, Hulk eventually stepped up to make it 1-1. As the Verdy players were celebrating on their way back to their side of the field, the referee suddenly showed a direct red-card to goalscorer Suzuki, apparently for unsportsmanlike language. As tv-footage shows, he clearly was talking to ”himself”, which just makes the whole sending-off even more ridiculous.
Mito shrugged off their disappointment, and kept defending well being a man down. They made some chances themselves, but were brutally stopped by the Verdy defence, which should have been rewarded with a PK or 2. But it was Verdy who created most chances, and finally, in the 83rd minute, Hiroyama headed home a cross to make it 1-2.
Verdy may have deserved the win according to play, but the way it happened is a disgrace to japanese football. You might want to agree with the fired-up Mito fans who after the match yelled ”bribery” to the ref.

Shonan Bellmare - Consadole Sapporo 3-0
The misery of Consadole just seems to continue, as they were totally outplayed by an impressive Shonan side, who took their 1st win in 5 games. Consadole now have only 1 point in their last 5 matches, and if they don’t turn it around soon, it looks dangerous regarding promotion.
Consadole started the game fairly good though, and came close on a couple of occasions in the opening minutes. Especially their playmaker Seiya Fujita should have scored as he came one-on-one with the Shonan keeper. But in the 16th minute, Shonan tok the lead through topscorer Hara, and from then on it was all about Shonan. Shonan produced tons of chances, but were effectively stopped by Takagi in the Consadole goal. In the 2nd half, Takagi had to see 2 more balls fly past him, as defenders Saito and Suzuki both scored.
If not for Takagi, the win would probably have been bigger, as Shonan had a total of 26 shots on goal to Consadole’s 4.
With this win, Shonan are only 4 points behind Cerezo, but regarding promotion I think they are too far behind already. Consadole have Kyoto breathing down their neck now, and can’t afford many more losses if they still want to be promoted.

Ehime FC - Avispa Fukuoka 3 - 3
Ehime fought hard to deserve a point home against Avispa last round, who tok their first point in 6 games. It was a very open and entertaining match, with Avispa taking the lead on 3 occasins only to see Ehime equalize everytime. MF Jogo opened the scoring for Avispa in the 12th minute, but Ego on Ehime made it 1-1 in the 25th minute with his first goal of the season. Lincoln made it 2-1 for the visitors just minutes later, which also were the score at half-time. Ehime’s Josimar made it 2-2 just 5 minutes into the 2nd half,but again Avispa replied immediately, this time through topscorer Alex. Avispa continued to create chances, and should have doubled their lead on several occasions. Ehime weren’t all lost themselves, but poor finishing let them down. They finally got their equalizer with only 4 minutes left to play though, as substitute Miki lashed home a volley-shot. Not much more happened, and Ehime outshot Avispa 14-9. Despite that, Ehime should be most happy not to lose as Avispa overall were the best team.

Montedio Yamagata - Tokushima Vortis 2 - 0
Montedip picked up their 3rd win in a row, as they easily beat a travelling Tokushima side. The game saw very few chances, and Tokushima never really looked like scoring. Montedio looked a bit sharper up front, but it took a PK before they managed to score. In the 34th minute, MF Miyazawa converted the PK with easy to make it 1-0 for Montedio. After the goal, Montedio decided to lay a bit lower, and defended very well to deny Tokushima any chances. Early in the 2nd half, Montedio put on FW Sasaki, who were a constant threat to the vailing Tokushima defence. He didn’t manage to score, but were highly influental in Montedio’s 2nd goal, which came in the 83rd minute through Yokoyama.
A well-deserved win, which puts Montedio only 3 points behind Avispa in 7th. Montedio outshot Tokushima 7-6.

Thespa Kusatsu - Vegalta Sendai 1-1
Vegalta must find themselves unlucky not to have picked up a win at Thespa, as they were by far the better team. The 2 points dropped can prove vital when we sum up at the end of the season. Thespa opened the match best though, and took the lead in the 24th minute trough FW Ujihara. Ujihara were played free by J2 Player of The Month for August Yasunori Takada, and made no mistake alone with the keeper. Thespa looked pretty solid in defence as well. It opened up more after the break, and it was deserved when Sekiguchi finally got the equalizer in the 49th minute. Vegalta created many chances also after that, but looked a bit too cautious in their build-up. The Vegalta coach said afterwards he wanted to team to take more risks when in offence, as they have only manage a goal pr game lately.
Although Vegalta only picked up a point here, they played well enough to deserve the win. They now have 4-1-0 on their latest 5, and look destined for a top 3 finish. Thespa had 6 shots to Vegalta’s 12.

Sagan Tosu 0 - Cerezo Osaka 2

6th win in a row! Things are looking great for us now, but the biggest tests awaits. We've had fairly easy opponents lately, but with that being said, every match is a tough one in J2.

The match against Sagan was very intense, with both teams coming to chances. Cerezo controlled the first half quite easily, and it was deserved when topscorer Tatsuya Furuhashi in the 16th minute made it 1-0 to the guests from the penalty spot in after a horrible two-legged tackle from a Sagan defender. Noriyuki Sakamoto where whispers away from doubling that lead just minutes later, but squandered his shot. Sagan had some chances as well, but none of them were of any troubles for GK Yoshida who could see his team go into the break with a well-deserved 1-0 lead.


Goalscorer Furuhashi

Things got more even in the 2nd half though, and Sagan deserved a goal from their many chances. Cerezo's passing suddenly started lacking precision, which led to some dangerous counter-attacks from Sagan. Komatsu,Furuhashi and Kagawa all seemed very tired, and their dribbling raids were effectively stopped by Sagan's defence.
So, against the play, Cerezo answered with a counter-attack on their own. In the 76th minute, Germano lofted forward, and played a neat one-two with Kagawa to find himself in a position to score. The newly acquitted brazilian made no mistakes, and scored his first ever goal for Cerezo.
With little time left, that pretty much killed the game off, and it ended 2-0 for the guests. Cerezo had 13 shots to Sagan's 11, and with the big away domination in the first half, I will say it was a deserved win. Apart from the goalscorers, Maeda in the Cerezo defence did a very good match, and deserves to be crowned MOM this time.
After the match, coach Levir Culpi made a plea to the Cerezo supporters to meet up in big numbers for the 2 upcoming home matches. Extra support might just be what Cerezo need to make it, so to all you Osakajins: Meet up! Since I live in Norway, it's quite hard for me, but if I were in Osaka I would surely have done my part ;)

So, now awaits 4 really tough matches. Shonan, who is only 4 points behind us in the table will come to Osaka on Wednesday, while current leaders Consadole will take the long trip from Sapporo in the weekend. After that, Cerezo won't play for about 2 weeks, before they meet Kyoto and Vegalta away. We need atleast 9 points from those games to still have a good chance of promotion. I reckon Shonan and Consadole should be wins, with Cerezo's great home record and the slump in form from the opponents.

Here for the stats:
Cerezo Squad:
GK: Yoshida
DF: Niwa, Maeda, Haneda,Ze Carlos
MF: Sakemoto, Ale, Germano, Kagawa
FW: Furuhashi, Komatsu


Goals: C: Furuhashi 16 (PK),Germano 76 ( Kagawa)
Subs for Cerezo:
Sakemoto --->Hamada 63
Komatsu ---> Y.Morishima 63
Furuhashi --->Miyamoto 83

Best in Pink: Kazuya Maeda
Shots on goal: Sagan 11 - Cerezo 13
Yellow Cards: Sagan 2 - Ale, Miyamoto for Cerezo
Attendance: 5290

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Round 41: Sagan - Cerezo Preview

VS

Probable line-up's :
(Sagan white / Cerezo Red)



Last meeting was in Osaka, where Cerezo won 2-1. But according to reports it was a very lucky win, which the fact that Sagan outshot Cerezo 16-5 understates. Either way, it was 3 much-needed points, and Cerezo fans might argue they deserved this win, after losing so many points in games they've dominated earlier this season. Komatsu scored the opening goal in the 30th minute, but Sagan equalized just before half-time. But Yasuhito Morishima added another for Cerezo just minutes into the 2nd half, which proved to be enough for the home team. The first meeting, which also was in Osaka, Cerezo quite comfortably won 3-0. In Tosu, Sagan won 1-0. That’s the only times these teams have met in the past.
Sagan’s form is not so bad, with 2-2-1 on last 5. On their last 6 at home they got 4-1-1. They are too far behind to be thinking about possible promotion though. Cerezo got 5 wins in a row, and looks very solid now.However, Cerezo are the best home team in the league, and takes most of their points there. Away they should do better. They got 2 away wins in a row now, and on last 6 they got 3-0-3. For the first time this season, Cerezo now looks to be consistently good. They are still missing 2 important defenders, but the back-up is good.
Up front, Komatsu and Furuhashi seems to be on fire, so I would expect some goals.
CEREZO WIN

J2 Round 41 - Sunday's previews



Ehime FC
-
Avispa Fukuoka

Avispa were in quite good form last time these teams met, and didn’t have much problems overcoming Ehime at home,where they won deservedly 2-0 in front of 11 000 spectators.
The first half wasn’t that thrilling, and with few chances for both teams. Ehime had some counter-attacks that looked dangerous, but they lacked the skills to convert them into any goals. Avispa as well came close on a couple of occasions, and when they finally scored in the 44th minute though MF Miyazaki you can say it was deserved. Avispa topscorer ( and 2nd in J2) Alex scored his 18th goal of the season 9 minute into the 2nd half to double Avispa’s lead. That virtually killed off the game, and Ehime didn’t look being able to get one back. Avispa seemed to cool down things as well, and not much more happened. Avispa outshot Ehime 14-8 and fully deserved the win.
Avispa also won the first match 1-0 at home, while it ended 0-0 in Ehime. That’s all the meetings so far between these clubs.
Ehime’s form is not good, and they have only picked up 2 points from their last 5 matches. At home they got 1-2-3 on last 6, and a goal aggregate of 5-7. Avispa have 5 losses in a row now and is out of the promotion race. Their away form is so-so, with 2-1-3 on last 6.
Avispa get’s 2 important defenders back from suspension for this match, which might help to tighten things at the back. Ehime still got some injury problems, and will suffer from that.
Both teams are in bad form, and most likely it’s Avispa who will win this. They are miles better than Ehime, and should win this pretty comfortably. Against Tokyo they played kinda good actually, but rued chances let them down. Alex and Lincoln will have a much easier task here, so I think we will see a couple of away goals.
AVISPA WIN

Montedio Yamagata
-
Tokushima Vortis

Their last meeting ended with a 1-0 away win for Montedio. It was a game few on chances, and both teams looked very cautious in their build-up, as they couldn’t afford to lose. The first half especially were dull, and by half time the score were still 0-0. Montedio scored the only goal of the game around the hour mark, after Tokushima conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position. Tokushima chased the equalizer, but Montedio kept their head cool to win their first game in 6 matches. Montedio outshot Tokushima 9 - 7.
Montedio also won the other away match with the same score, while it ended 0-0 in Yamagata. All previous meetings gives us a whopping 6-1-0 for Montedio, who clearly has the upper hand on Tokushima.
Montedio now have 2 wins in a row, and 2-1-0 on last 3. Their home form is so-so though, with only 2-1-3. Tokushima are in great form as well, with 2-3-0 on last 5, including a 3-0 win over Consadole. Away they only got 0-2-4 , but the last 2 matches have been draws.
Both teams have both scored and conceded few goals of late, so I don’t expect many goals- The fact that Montedio’s main man up front Toyoda is out as well understates that.
Tokushima have only 3 away wins this season, and I don’t see them taking their 4th here, although their form has improved of late. Montedio are haltered by some injuries, but that hasn’t affected them in their latest matches.
DRAW

Thespa Kusatsu
-
Vegalta Sendai

Last meeting Vegalta were held 1-1 at home, after Thespa took the lead in the 1st half. DF Chika made it 1-0 to the guests in the 36th minute, after Vegalta had been the best team the opening minutes. Vegalta geared up things a bit after that, and came close on several occasions for the equalizer. They had to wait until the 67th minute for what they wanted, as MF Tamura unleashed a beautiful shot to make it 1-1. For the rest of the match, Thespa surprisingly kept up with Vegalta, and both teams had big chances. Vegalta’s Tanoue got sent off in the 86th minute for a professional foul, which forced Vegalta to defend the last 5 minutes. Vegalta had 16 shots to Thespa’s 12. The first meeting this season also ended 1-1, in Sendai. Away, Vegalta picked up a pretty easy 3-1 win. All meetings gives us 4-3-0 for Vegalta, who got a good grip on Thespa.
Thespa’s home form is only 0-3-3, and they haven’t won on 10 home games. The last 3 all ended draws though. On the last 5 home and away, they’ve picked up 2 points. Vegalta onthe other hand, have five 1-0 wins in a row, and looks really solid.Away they got a decent 3-1-2.
Vegalta can except their goalkeeper field the best possible line-up here, and playmaker Lopes returns from suspension. Thespa are without 2 important defenders, and might struggle at the back.
VEGALTA WIN

J2 Round 41 - Saturday's previews

2 of Cerezo's main rivals in the battle for promotion are playing tomorrow, while Cerezo and the rest are not scheduled to play before Sunday. Here are the previews for Saturday's games:

Let's hope for a Mito and Shonan win ^^ ( although it's not likely)


Mito Hollyhock
-
Tokyo Verdy 1969

This match might prove to be tougher for Tokyo than one would presume, as Tokyo have struggled against the minnows on several occasions before.
They won last meeting though, as they eased past Mito with a nice 2-0 win.As things turned out, Tokyo proved to be too tough a team to beat this time. Mito had won all 3 previous meetings away against Tokyo actually.
Mito fans must have felt gutted the way Tokyo scored their first goal in the 22nd minute, as the incident prior to Diego’s goal should clearly have been rewarded with a free-kick for Mito. But the referee didn’t see anything wrong, and wrongly have Tokyo the opening goal. Tokyo made it 2-0 10 minutes later through a beautiful set-piece pass which led to Funakoshi scoring his 5th goal of the season. Tokyo were the best team for most of this match, but things could have gone different if the referee had done his job, as Mito should have gotten a penalty in the middle of the 2nd half. Tokyo outshot Mito 15-10, and all in all were the better team.
Mito won the first match this 5-1 away ( which was Mito’s first win of the season!), while Tokyo picked up a 1-0 away win the other match. All previous meetings gives us 3-0-4 for Mito. Tokyo have won all previous meetings in Mito, and has a goal aggregate of 4-1 those matches. After a very nice period in August, Mito have now lost 3 matches in a row. Their home for is so-so as well, with only 1-2-3 on last 6. Tokyo aren’t much better away. with only 1-3-2. Tokyo have been much better at home this season, so they might get problems here. They are unbeaten for 5 games now, but hasn’t impressed in their play. Mito are missing some important men as well, including 3 suspended players.
Mito have the advantage of playing without pressure, as they look destined for last place anyway. Tokyo can’t afford to drop points here, as they are chasing Vegalta in 3rd. I don’t really see Mito winning this, altough they are capable of springing a surprise. I think Tokyo will clinch this, much due to their form and the clear difference in ability.
Verdy WIN.

Shonan Bellmare
-
Consadole Sapporo

The teams met a month ago as well, when Shonan took a surprising 2-1 away win over Consadole. Shonan started the game best, and took the lead in the 38th minute through their notoric topscorer Ryuta Hara. Nishitani equalized a minute later though for Consadole, so the teams were still deadlocked by half-time. The 2nd half turned out as the 1st, with the play shifting from side to side with chances for both teams. Somewhat surprisingly it was Shonan who managed to score, after substitue Ishihara made it 1-2 with 10-15 minutes left to play. Consadole failed to reply, and their first loss in 12 games were a fact. That game marked the beginning of Consadole’s recent slump in form, and it will be interesting to see if they can turn it around here. Shonan outshot Consadole 12-10.
The first match this season ended 0-0, while Consadole won 2-1 away the 2nd.
All previous meetings gives us 3-1-3.
Shonan haven’t won in 5 games now, and like Consadole need to turn it around soon. Their home form is a decent 2-3-1, but they don’t score enough goals. The defence is good though. Consadole as well are in bad shape, and have only 1 win in their last 6.Away, they have 4-0-2 on their last 6, but they’ve lost the latest 2.
This is a very open match, as Consadole have several important players out with injury, and Shonan have 3 midfielders out with suspensionConsadole HAS to win it, or they might see themselves in 2nd place after this round.
Consadole WIN

Round 40 Match Reports

A bit late maybe, but here are the reports from last weekend's matches:

Consadole Sapporo - Vegalta Sendai 0 -1

As predicted, Consadole’s bad form continued last round when they had 3rd placed Vegalta at home. Vegalta took theier 5th 1-0 in a row after their prolific striker Hiroki Bandai exploited an error from Consadole player Otsuka right after the break. Some Consadole fans might have it that Bandai used his hand to gain control of the ball, but the referee let it pass. Consadole didn’t manage to build up much play this match, as Vegalta both defended well and at times also put the home team under big pressure.
The biggest letdown for Consadole must be their midfield, who were totally outplayed by their counterparts on Vegalta. As usual, the home team defended well, but Bandai and co. always looked more likey than Consadole to score. I will say it’s a well-earned away win, as Vegalta overall were the best team. Over 22,000 spectators turned up for this match, which is a season J2 record. Vegalta had 14 shots to Consadole’s 10.
(While we’re talking about Consadole; 2 new acquirements have been brought in the last couple of weeks as Consadole raided Yokohama for new players. GK Yasuhiro Tominaga were bought from Yokohama F Marinos, and Chong Yong De, a defensive midfielder were brought in from Yokohama FC. Tominaga will very doubtly receive any playing time this season, as he is not near as good as Takagi. Chong however, have played 12 matches for Yokohama FC this season, and can very well become a joker for Consadole the last matches).

Kyoto Sanga F.C. - Mito Hollyhock 2 -1

Kyoto took their 2nd win in a row now, and it might seem they’ve turned around their bad form. However, the teams they’ve beaten have been Mito and Ehime, by many regarded as the 2 worsest teams in the league. Andrè proved the difference for Kyoto this time, as he scored 2 goals within the first 12 minutes. Mito DF Yoshimoto got one back for the visitors midway through the 1st half as he steered home a corner. Kyoto seemed to lose focus after that, and Mito could have gotten an equalizer as well. It was a very hot day, which of course reflected in tiring players as the match progressed. Kyoto controlled most of the play in the 2nd half, but didn’t create as much in offense as one would expect. It was a fair result in the end, as Kyoto outshot Mito 13-8. With this win, and Consadole’s loss, Kyoto are now only 3 points behind the league leaders. Although Kyoto have won 2 games in a row now, I guess it’s too soon to say if they’re back on track yet.

Montedio Yamagata - Thespa Kusatsu 2 -0

Montedio took a very convincing 2-0 win over Thespa last round,and with that made the gap down to 10th place 13 points. This was the first time in 25 games Montedio have scored 2 goals in a game! Montedio opened the game very positively, and could have gone one up in the opening minutes. The first goal didn’t came before the 36th minute though, as MF Akiba fired it home. 5 minutes later, Thespa FW Careca were sent off for a professional foul, and the brazilian forward continued his horrible run of games for Thespa.
With 11 against 10, Montedio took more and more over, and doubled their lead in the 61th minute through their topscorer Toyoda, who had returned for this game. They came very close on a couple of set-pieces to go 3-0 up as well, but just missed the target. Montedio outshot Thespa 17-6 and were by far the best team.

Tokushima Vortis - Shonan Bellmare 2 -0

Shonan can blame rued chances for not getting aything from this match. It was a very evenly contested game, and Shonan deserved atleast a point from it. Tokushima proved very efficient, and scored on their first real chance as FW Kobayashi tapped it home in the 23rd minute. After the goal, Tokushima focused more on the defensive play, trying to protect their lead. Shonan took more over, but didn’t took their chances. Winger Kataoka made it 2-0 with a nice shot in the 57th minute. Tokushima had a total of 6 shots on target, while Shonan had 10. Tokushima took their 2nd home win in a row now, and have an impressive record of 5 unbeaten matches. Shonan on the other hand, looks to have fallen too much behind the teams in front, making promotion very unlikely for them. Only 2 points from the last 4 games tells us that their form isn’t much either.

Cerezo Osaka - Ehime FC 4 - 2

SEE OWN STORY

Tokyo Verdy 1969 - Avispa Fukuoka 2 -0

Tokyo seems in very good form now, and have only lost 2 of their latest 16 matches. Against Avispa, they won after 2 goals from Hulk, who scored his 27th and 28th goal in his 33rd appearance. Very impressive numbers, and Hulk look destined for a bigger club if Tokyo fails to be promoted. It was an even match though, and Avispa were the better team in the opening stages. Tokyo took the lead in the 30th minute, after Hulk scored on a penalty-kick. Avispa kept pressing Tokyo after that, and should have deserved a goal before the break. Alex and Lincoln up is always dangerous, but the Tokyo defence did a good job denying them any goals. Hulk made it 2-0 right after the break, and from then it looked to be an uphill battle for Avispa who were trailing a 2 goal lead. They continued their nice play though, but unfortunately for them, it didn’t result in any goals. Tokyo had 17 shots this match, while Avispa had 14. This was Avispa’s 5th loss in a row, and they seems to have fallen too much behind already regarding promotion. Tokyo on the other hand, looks quite good now.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cerezo Osaka 4 - Ehime FC 2

Cerezo put on an impressive display against Ehime on sunday, and took 3 very deserving points.
It was a cracker of a game, with tons of chances and 6 goals. This was Cerezo's 5th win in a row, and they look really good at the moment.

But Ehime opened the match best, and took the lead in the 3rd minute through Josimar after Ze Carlos had left spaces wide-open on the left-side. The defence, who were without 2 regulars, looked very unstable in the beginning, but gradually improved to shut down Ehime. Especially Haneda were bad, as he made 3 very dangerous back-passes to Yoshida who the Ehime attackers almost reached. However, In the 28th minute, Cerezo equalized through an own-goal from Ehime DF Kondo. Rui Komatsu, who's been really really good lately, were the man behind the goal, as his pass ( to the open Kagawa) deflected off Kondo back into the net.

Ze Carlos made amends for being out of position on the first goal in the 34th minute, as his cross from the left side found Komatsu, who headed home the 2-1 goal. That were the score at half-time, and the 14.500 or so spectators must have been happy with what they saw. Cerezo's individual skills were clearly much better than Ehime's, and they should have lead by a much bigger margin.

So it was no surprise that Cerezo went 3-1 up in the 51th minute yet again through Komatsu. He came in from the left and his shot were too good for the Ehime keeper who only got his fingers on it. Tatsuya Furuhashi made it 4-1 7 minutes later, after Kagawa showed great technique before sending a pin-point cross towards Furuhashi who smoothly put the ball into the goal.
At this stage, the only question were how big the win were going to be.

Cerezo made some subsitutions after that, and with that cooled things down. They should have scored a goal or 2 more, but instead it was Ehime who got one back in the 89th minute, after Ze Carlos were found out of position once again to let Uchimura score.

A great win though, but Cerezo needs to improve even more if they want to beat the top 4 teams. In the 2 next games awaits Sagan and Shonan, who both are tough teams. They are not in their best form though, so it should be possible to beat them.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

2 down - 5 to go

Both Tokyo and Cerezo picked up nice wins today, and after this weekend's matches it looks like Avispa and Shonan has fallen too much behind. Tokyo beat Avispa 2-0 to extend their losing streak to 5 games. So now it seems that there are only 5 serious contenders left for promotion.

Cerezo - Ehime were a very thrilling match, with 37 shots on goal in total (!). I will come with a match report later today, but here are the hard facts:

Cerezo 4 - Ehime 2
Goals:
Cerezo: Kondo (OG) 28, Komatsu 34,51, Furuhashi 59
Ehime: Josimar 3, Uchimura 80

Cerezo squad:
GK: Yoshida
DF: Niwa, Maeda, Haneda, Ze Carlos
MF: Hamada(Sakemoto 65), Ale, Germano , Kagawa
FW: Furuhashi (Kokeguchi 69), Komatsu

Yellow Cards: Cerezo 2 ( Maeda,Haneda)/Ehime 0

Attendance: 14,537

Round 40 preview - Sunday's games



Cerezo Osaka
-
Ehime FC

In the last meeting, Cereso travelled to Ehime, where they quite easily won 2-0. The game were quite even at the start, but Cerezo always looked the more likely team to score. It was still deadlocked at the break though, but only 10 minutes into the 2nd half Cerezo had the lead through a nice goal by defender Maeda. Cerezo kept pushing for the 2nd goal, and Ehime had enough problems just defending. So, 3 quarters into the game Shinji Kagawa, who just returned from U-20 World Cup popped up to give Cerezo a double lead. Ehime made some half-hearted attempts to get one back, but at the end they never stood a chance. Cerezo outshot Ehime 15-9, and it was a pretty convincing away victory. All meetings this season gives us 2-0-1 for Cerezo, and Ehime’s one win came in Osaka actually. That’s the only times these teams have met. Cerezo got a perfect home form ,with 6-0-0 on last 6. They also got 4 wins in a row home and away. Ehime away got a decent 1-3-2, but have gone 4 matches without a win now. Only Sagan have won more home matches than Cerezo this season, so it proves they are solid at home. Ehime have taken 6 points more away than home this season, so they might be able to upset Cerezo here. Besides that and the win Ehime produced here last time, everything else suggests that Cerezo will win this with ease. Cerezo are without a few defenders, but they got pretty good coverage at the back, so they should do well without too. Cerezo returns to Nagai Stadium for this match, and I think we will see double figures at least in terms of attendance. Extra support will only help the home team. CEREZO win.

Tokyo Verdy 1969
-
Avispa Fukuoka

In their last meeting, Tokyo struggled without Hulk, when they lost 2-1 away. Tokyo didn’t produce much up front, and their attacking play looked without rhytm and a proper plan. Avispa took an early lead through in-form striker Alex, and doubled that lead 15 minutes into the 2nd half. Tokyo also had some chances, but porr finishing kept them from scoring until midway through the 2nd half, when they reduced Avispa’s lead to 1 goal. I wasn’t enough though, and a deserved win for Avispa who were helped forward by a record-high home crowd, outshooting Tokyo 10-7. Avispa have won both their home matches against Verdy, while the last one in Tokyo ended with a home win.
Tokyo’s home form is quite good, with 4-2-0 on last 6 and only 3 conceded goals. Avispa away only got 2-1-3. Tokyo got 2-2-0 on the last 4 matches, but dropped 2 valuable points in their last match away at Shonan. Avispa now have 4 losses in a row, and faces an uphill battle for promotion now. They get 3 players back from suspension here, but are still without a couple of important players. But so are Tokyo, especially in defence.
I think we will see an open match, with 2 of the most impressive attacking lineups in the league in action.I think with home advantage. It can go both ways, but most likely a TOKYO win.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Round 40 preview - Saturday's games



Consadole Sapporo
-
Vegalta Sendai

Last meeting, Consadole travelled to Sendai for a tough away game with Vegalta, and took a strong 2-0 victory. They may find themselves a bit fortunate though, as Vegalta were the dominant team for most parts of the game. Consadole took the lead against the play in the 19th minute. After that, they defended with all their strength to deny Vegalta any goals. Vegalta had plenty of chances, but for once, poor finishing let them down. Consadole extended their lead 1 minute into the 2nd half, through topscorer Davi. Vegalta pushed hard to get back into the game, but good goalkeeping from Takagi denied them any goals. Vegalta outshot Consadole 22-6 though, and deserved at least a point. In the 2 other meetings this season Consadole won 1, and one ended a draw.All previous meetings gives us a whopping 4-3-0 for Consadole. Vegalta is in other words chasing their first ever win against Consadole. Consadole’s form is so-so, and on the last 6 at home they’ve got 2-3-1. Vegalta away got 3-2-1. Consadole have only taken 4 points from their last 5 games, and with all their missing players might get problems against a Vegalta side chasing promotion. Vegalta have 3 wins in a row now, and only 1 loss in their last 7 matches. The visitors have a good opportunity here to take their first win against Consadole.
Consadole have conceded more goals than usual lately, and doesn’t look as solid in defence as they used to be. Vegalta on the other hand, who’s known for their offensive football, have struggled to find the net, and have 3 1-0 wins in a row. Consadole are without 3 regular defenders here, so it might open things up for the Vegalta strikers.
VEGALTA win.
Kyoto Sanga F.C.
-
Mito Hollyhock

In their last meeting Mito lost 2-1 at home against a Kyoto side which were in great form at that time. Yet again, Mito played some very decent football, only to see the other team get away with all points. Kyoto took an early lead after a wicked goal for Paulinho. Ogura of Mito cleared the ball straight into Paulinho’s leg, and it bounced straight back into the goal to take Kyoto 1-0 up, which were also the score by half time. Kyoto started the 2nd half best too, and scored the 2-0 goal 4 minutes into the half. Mito didn’t gave up though, and put one back in the 56th minute, through Ogura who was the unlucky man on Kyoto’s first goal. At this stage, Mito were clearly the better team, and midway through the 2nd half, they were robbed of a clear penalty, after the impressive Jun Muramatsu were put to ground withing the penalty box. Both teams had 14 shots each, and a draw would have been most fair. The 2 other meetings this season both ended with Kyoto wins. Kyoto’s form hasn’t been all that good lately, and last round’s 1-0 away at Ehime was much needed. On the last 8 they’ve got only 2 wins. Home form is 3-2-1. Mito away got 1-3-2, which is quite good for them. But they’ve only scored 2 goals those games ( and conceded 5). They’ve lost 2 in a row now, but were quite good before that. They hardly concede any goals anymore, and the defence and the GK has done a very good lately. The problem lies up front, and we rarely see many goals from the Mito side.
KYOTO should win this.
Montedio Yamagata
-
Thespa Kusatsu


Last meeting, Montedio travelled to Thespa where the teams shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Montedio were slight favorites, as Thespa’s form were anything but good, going 14 ( now ) games without winning. But, it was Thespa that opened the scoring late in the 1st half. FW and topscorer Takada got loose to finish off a nice move in the 41st minute to make it 1-0 to the hosts. After the break, Thespa tried to defend their 1 goal lead, and Montedio put them under big pressure for long parts of the half. It took a while before they managed to equalize though, as with only 4 minutes left to play subsitute Yokoyama finally overcame the Thespa keeper. If any, Montedio deserved to win this, but a draw is a fair result as well. It’s result neither of the teams can be thrilled about, but not losing is important as well. Montedio outshot Thespa 13-9.Montedio won the first meeting this season, while the 2nd one also ended 1-1. All previous meetings gives us 3-3-1 for Montedio, and the matches usually delivers few goals.
Montedio’s form is not so good, with only 1 win in the last 7 matches. At home they got 1-1-4 and only 4 scored goals. Thespa’s away form is so-so, with 1-3-2 on the last 6.
They got 1-5-1 and only one loss in their last 7,which isn’t too bad. But, draws don’t steer them any higher in the table, and they have only won 1 (!) game in the last 21 matches. Thespa have a total of 14 drawn matches this season, which is a league high. Montedio got 11, which is the 3rd ”best” record. This match looks very much like a draw as well, especially since Montedio are missing so many players. No doubt Montedio is a better team than Thespa, but that have might been levelled now with all the injured players of Montedio.
I think we’ll see a DRAW.
Tokushima Vortis
-
Shonan Bellmare

In the last meeting Shonan had Tokushima at home, and won quite easily 2-0. Tokushima had 2 players sent off that game, and never really stood a chance. In fact, Tokushima must find themselves lucky not to have lost by a bigger margin, as Shonan outplayed them all through the match, even before the red cards. It was still deadlocked by halftime though, and the biggest action we saw before the break was the red card of Tokushima striker Kobayashi. Tokushima were now forced back on the field, and as they tried to defend with all their might, Shonan took the lead through new brazilian signing Eduardo Marquez, who bagged his first goal in his 2nd appearance. Midfielder and top-scorer Adiel doubled the lead just minutes after, and Shonan dominated the play for the remainder of the match. Tokushima got one more player sent off after that, and were lucky not to concede more goals. Shonan outshot its opponents 22-9.Shonan have won all 3 matches this season actually. All previous meetings though gives us 2-1-4 for Tokushima. Tokushima’s home form is only 1-1-4, but they got 1-3-0 on their last 4, so they are in quite good form. Last home match they took a major scalp as they beat Consadole 3-0. Shonan’s form away of lately is a solid 4-0-2. But they got only 1 win in their last 5 games, and seem to have fallen too far behind regarding promotion. Here, they are without 2 of their most important players as well due to suspensions, so it will be a tough match for them. I still rate them as favorites though, and most likely it will be another win for SHONAN.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A look on the teams still in run for promotion

With 3/4 's of the season played, still 8 teams have a chance of getting promoted. But it's getting tougher every round, and the majority of the remainding matches need to be won if one wants promotion.

A little rundown of the teams, and a brief look on their chances:

Consadole Sapporo
Right now, Sapporo looks the only team certain of a place in J1 next season. They've got a 10 points lead on Vegalta in 3rd, and only a total breakdown will prevent them from going up. They deserve to be atop of the table, as they've been constantly good all season. Especially in defence, where they've been rock solid. In Takagi, they've got arguably the best GK in J2, and he might be bound for a bigger club next season ( especially if Consadole fails to win promotion). A little question-mark over the fitness of the players though, and we've seen some signs of tired players recently.

Prediction: 1st place

Vegalta Sendai
From my point of view, Vegalta looks 2nd strongest after Consadole, and I will be surprised if they don't manage at least 3rd. While Verdy got Hulk, Vegalta got arguably the best offensive lineup overall in the league. Now, Tokyo,Kyoto and also Avispa have scored more goals than Vegalta, but Bandai,Lopes and Nakashima combines perfectly well together up front and forces a threat against all oppositions. Vegalta are also in relatively good form, and have nwo won 3 in a row. With the season entering it's closing stages, Vegalta should be happy that they are among the form teams now. However, the biggest issue for Vegalta is the ability ( or more precisely lack of) to win even matches, and if they continues to drop points cause of that promotion might slip away. Vegalta got the best home crowd in the league, and their support might be the X-factor they need to be promoted.
Prediction: 2nd-3rd place

Cerezo Osaka
Some might think Im being biased now, but with the current situation I hold Cerezo as the 3rd biggest favorite to be promoted this season. Their form is great, with 4 consecutive wins now. They don't have that many injury problems anymore, and besided Hiroaki Morishima, who's been out for almost all season, they can field their best possible squad. The defence has shut down the Cerezo goal now, and their new signing Germano has fitted perfectly in midfield. Kagawa looks revitalized on the wing, and Komatsu and Furuhashi up front combines really well. As it stands, only Consadole and Kyoto have won more matches than Cerezo this season ( Vegalta has as Cerezo won 18), and only 4 teams has a better defensive record than Cerezo. With that being said, Cerezo have only scored 47 goals so far, which is the lowest among the top 7 teams. Also, Cerezo's goal difference is not near as good as the other teams around them
Pundits and various experts said that the sacking of Tsunami was a mistake, and I was unsure about it myself, but one have to give credits to Levir Culpi for the job he's done since he took over. He's done a brilliant job, and it looks like the Cerezo board made the right decision with bringing in Culpi. I think Cerezo's form will continue, and that they will do enough to be among the top 3 teams when the season is finished.

Prediction 2nd-3rd place

Kyoto Sanga
Kyoto currently holds the 2nd place, but their form of late has been mildly spoken stuttering.
They got a very talented squad,and would probably do a reasonable good job in J1 as well ( they look better now than last year), but it doesn't seem like they fully exploit their potential. Maybe it's a lack of team chemistry or bad coaching, but they should have done better anyway. In Paulinho and Andrè, they've got maybe the best striker partnership in the league ( Vegalta got the best offensive line-up, Kyoto the best striker partnership and Verdy the best striker). But Andrè's been injured for over half the season, and since he returned from his injury he has not looked the same. Getting Andrè back in form might be the key for Kyoto. Kyoto finally got a win again last round, but whether they really are back on track, or it just was a lucky win remains to be seen. I think they will drop enough points to just miss out on play-off/promotion this season.

Prediction: 3rd-5th place

Avispa Fukuoka
Should have done better this season, but it's not over yet and Avispa still has a reasonably good chance of promotion. Avispa needs to become more stable in their results though, as they have struggled to kept up the momentum for long runs at a time. Also, Avispa clearly got a disciplinary problem. Against Cerezo last round, as many as 5 (!!) regular players were out with suspension. And their nastiest player Lincoln were not among those 5 ( although he's missed a fair share of games earlier this season). With the season nearing it's end, and the consequences of yellow cards picked up earlier in the season begins to kick in for real, we might see Avispa without several starters also in the remaining matches.Now, Cerezo played a really good match against Avispa last round, but one have to think about what a full Avispa squad would have managed. I think Avispa have dropped too many points already this season, and their current form doesn't suggest that they will be picking up enough from now. I think they will manage to get ahead of Verdy.

Prediction: 4th-6th place

Tokyo Verdy
Tokyo is the biggest question-mark among the top teams. They got probably the most talented squad in the league, but a very poor coach and too lazy players have resulted in far less points than most people predicted.
I've mentioned Hulk before, who is an attack alone. But the games Hulk doesn't have a good day, or the defence manages to neutralize him, there is not many else in the Verdy team who can score goals. They simply rely too much on the brazilian. I guess much is up to what form Tokyo will be in the remainding matches. If they suddenly lose a game or two, they might find it hard to turn it around ( as they struggled so much with earlier this season). but if they keep their momentum, and Ramos manages to keep the player's focus on the one important thing; 2nd or 3rd place, they surely are strong enough to get into J1. I think they fail though.

Prediction: 5th-6th place

Shonan Bellmare and Sagan Tosu
I think Shonan and Sagan are too light-weighted in this company, and will end up 7th and 8th, respectively.
I rate Shonan as slightly better than Sagan at current form, and think they will stay ahead of the Kyushu-based team. Shonan got a very good defence lead by former FC Tokyo man Jean Carlos Witte, but they don't really have anyone up front to score the goals. Adiel in midfield, who based on this year's performance should be bound for a bigger club next season,has been excellent in midfield and scored 10 goals. Ryuta Hara up front is good, but not great, and I think they have to settle for 7th. Sagan on the other hand, is quite the opposite if Shonan. They are really bad in defence, but got a natural goalscorer ( and he's japanese!) in Yoshihito Fujita up front. He's managed 18 goals in 35 appearances, and maybe deserves a shot at J1 next season. He can't be worser than King Kazu can he? :) But even with Fujita's goals, Sagan look overall too poor to be a serious candidate for promotion. Their form isn't the best either, and I think they will end 8th.

So, this is how I think it will end:

1.Consadole Sapporo
2.Vegalta Sendai
3.Cerezo Osaka
4.Kyoto Sanga
5.Avispa Fukuoka
6.Tokyo Verdy
7.Shonan Bellmare
8.Sagan Tosu
9.Montedio Yamagata
10.Thespa Kusatsu
11.Ehime FC
12.Mito Hollyhock
13. Tokushima Vortis

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Round 39 match reports - the rest



Ehime FC
-
Kyoto Sanga F.C.
0 - 1
Kyoto finally won again at Ehime last round, after an early goal from versatile defender Tiago. From a nice set-play, Tiago showed good timing to steer the ball in the goal in the 8th minute. With only 1 win in their last 7 matches, Kyoto were in desperate need of a win again. That one could see from their play too, especially in the first half, when they showed great determination. Maybe due to tired players, Kyoto let Ehime back into the game after the break, and struggled to cope with the midfielders of Ehime. Ehime played much more aggressive in the latter half, and came to some chances as well mainly after good play from their wings. But overall Kyoto had most chances, and were the best team. They outshot Ehime 17-9 and deserved the win.
Mito Hollyhock
-
Montedio Yamagata
0 -1
After going 4 games without losing ( which is a season record) Mito have now lost 2 consecutive games. Against Montedio, they lost out to an Ishikawa goal after failing to pick up the 2nd ball. Ishikawa’s goal came in the 58th minute. Mito defended well this match, but didn’t look that threathening in attack. And the few chances they had, the Montedio GK saved. Montedio had a very cautious approach to the game, and created very little in the first half. But after Toyoda, their star striker ,entered the pitch right after the break Montedio looked much sharper up front. Overall it wasn’t the best match, as both teams focused on the defensive part this time. Montedio took their 1st win in 7 matches, but are already too far behind the teams above them to be able to catch up. They’re 13 points ahead of Ehime and Thespa, so they look destined for 9th place.
Thespa Kusatsu
-
Tokushima Vortis
0-0
Compared to this game, Mito-Montedio looked really entertaining. Thespa looked like they were afraid to lose, as that would put Tokushima only 1 point behind them in the table, and Tokushima didn’t manage to break through the home team’s defence. Tokushima’s coach seemed happy with the one point though, and everything but a loss away is a bonus for them. Thespa’s brazilian FW Careca, who were expected great things from, didn’t have a particular good day. He hasn’t really fitted into the team yet, and were substituted right after the break. Up till now, he hasn’t managed to score a single goal. Both teams had 10 shots, but the most dramatic scene was when Sakurada where sent off for Thespa with 5 minutes left to play.Thespa has taken over the ”drawmaster” tag this season, and now has 14 draws. Tokushima are nto far behind though with 13. These 2 teams have by far most draws this season, and the 3 games between them all ended 0-0 (!).
Vegalta Sendai
-
Sagan Tosu
1 - 0
With the loss at Vegalta, Sagan’s hope of promotion took a real blow. They currenty lies in 8th, and have to win most of the remaining matchs if they want to have a chance. Vegalta on the other hand, took their 3rd 1-0 win a row, and are now only 4 points behind Kyoto in 2nd. It was a pretty evenly played match, with some big chances for both teams. Vegalta always looked more dangerous though, and probably deserved the win more than Sagan.
They had to wait until the 85th minute before they scored their goal though, as Lopes were clipped down just outside the edge of the box. Hiroki Bandai, who scored a hat-trick against Sagan earlier this season, neatly lifter the ball over the wall to make it 1-0 for Vegalta. Vegalta had 12 shots to Sagan’s 11.
Shonan Bellmare
-
Tokyo Verdy 1969
1 -1
This game was played on monday, and Tokyo must have been left gutted as Shonan equalized in the 89th minute to make it a tie. Hulk were on target again for Tokyo, as he easily put the visitors 1-0 up in the 15th minute. He should have scored at least one more though, but weren’t as effective as he usual are this time. Shonan got their defender Tamura sent off right before the break, and now everyone thought Tokyo would run away with it. Tokyo have to blame rued chances for not winning this, as they played almost a half 11 against 10. But Tokyo got a man sent off themselves, with 7 minutes to play asYukio Tsuchiya, the highly influental man in defence received the marching order. Shonan were qucik to exploit the whole n the Tokyo defence, and got their equalizer in the 89th minute through brazilian Marquez. According to chances and play, Tokyo deserved the win, but Shonan put in a great effort with only 10 men and defended well.
This is a result neither of the teams can be very happy with though, as only victory is good enough if any of them wants to be promoted. Tokyo had 17 shots to Shonan’s 10.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Avispa Fukuoka - Cerezo Osaka 0-1


Yes! Another important win for Cerezo, who now have clocked 4 wins in a row. We're only 4 points behind Vegalta in 3rd now, so everything is possible. Unfortunately, both Vegalta and Kyoto also took some narrow wins.

The game: 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.

Kagawa was the undisputed MOM today, but goalscorer Komatsu deserves some credit as well. Furuhashi did a brilliant job as usual, and it was nice to see the "new" centre midfield Ale and Germano playing so good together. The defence played a good match as well.

Cerezo squad:
GK: Yoshida
DF: Yanagisawa, Maeda,Ezoe,Niwa
MF: Hamada, Ale,Germano,Kagawa
FW: Furuhashi, Komatsu

Subs: Ze Carlos in for Yanagisawa (89)
Cards: Avispa 4 Yellow , Cerezo 3 Yellow
Attendance: 12,925