Monday, December 8, 2008

Cerezo to stay one more year in J2

Cerezo won their match against Ehime 2-1, but since Vegalta won their match as well, it means we will finish 4th, missing out on 3rd and play-off by a single point. A huge disappointment, as this was the year we were going to be promoted again, but on the positive sides we've played some really good football at times, and for the time being it seems as we might be able to hold on to atleast some of our profiles from this year. Shinji Kagawa, our biggest asset and best player, will stay on for one more year despite being chased by the likes of J1-champions Kashima Antlers, according to japanese newspapers.

Double-click for bigger version

Personally I don't think too many players will leave, as the team-spirit and atmosphere at the club seems to be high. Just take a look at this picture, which was taken at the match against Ehime. Levir Culpi will also stay on, and my personal opinion of him is also positive. His tactics are a bit risky, which explains our poor defensive record, but we score tons of goals and our games are usually very entertaining. One thing is to win a match, another thing is to win in style. Our defensive problems can be explained by the player material as well, so I don't think that's all Culpi's fault. In the last matches, we changed into a 3-6-1 formation, and from what I saw that turned in to be a great success. Hopefully Culpi will build on from that and make it work even better next year.

So who will go and who will stay? Our brazilians seems destined to stay. Gilton has just established himself at the club, while Germano enjoys life in Osaka so much that I doubt he will be willing to leave. Ale has been injured for a while now, so I don't know about him. Kaio is the one with the biggest question mark on him though, as he's young, talented and probably got alot of J1 clubs wanting his signature if Cerezo wants to let him go.

One of our strikers will probably leave anyway. Furuhashi have had a nightmare season, much because of injuries. Although I like him very much, it might be better for him to switch clubs. If we opt for a single striker next year as well, both Kaio and Komatsu seems to be ahead of him in the pecking order. That is, if both stays. Komatsu have scored 15+ goals for 2 years in a row now, and might be heading for a J1 club. Yoichiro Kakitani is a huge talent, but he doesn't receive enough playing time at Cerezo to develop properly. If he stays, I hope he gets more chances next year. He will have one more year at his back too then, and that can only be a good thing. Kakitani actually failed to scored this season, despite starting 10-15 matches.

Shinji Kagawa will most likely stay, and I hope the same goes for Takashi Inui. In defence Fujimoto is being chased by Oita, and he might be on his way out. Fujimoto didn't got to play until late in the season, but once he got the chance he made the most of it. From the little I saw of him, I hope he stays. In goal I don't think either Aizawa or Yamamoto have been a huge success. Yamamoto seems a bit slow and "heavy" for a goalkeeper ( kinda Neville Southall-ish), and Aizawa haven't showed anything that suggests he's the man to go for. Perhaps it would be an idea to get back Yoshida from Avispa, who's only a 2nd choice there?

I think what we need is a couple of new defenders and a new defensive midfielder. That, as well as a more reliable goalkeeper should be enough to give us success next season. However, all depends on who stays on though. With 3 more teams joining J2 next year, we need a big squad so it's important to have double-cover all places.

Final table ( Double - click for bigger version):

Friday, December 5, 2008

J2 - Final round preview

A look at Cerezo's match against Ehime and Vegalta's match against Thespa:
Cerezo Osaka Ehime FC

Cerezo are still without a few starters, but their squad is so big that it doesn’t really weakens them that much. With good cover all places Cerezo looks great at the moment. Ehime are without GK Kawakita still, which means Tada will meet his former teammates here. Up front Uchimura us out as well, but not really a big loss.

Cerezo got 3 straight wins now, and are in scincillating form. They’re scoring tons of goals at the moment, and Ehime will get a tough time here I think. At home Cerezo got 3-1-2 on the last 6. Ehime have only 2 points in their last 5, and away it’s 1-2-3 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 5-0-1, and Cerezo won both matches earlier this season.

Cerezo are naturally huge favorites, and Ehime shouldn’t be any match for them here. A win for Cerezo at the same time as Vegalta drops point means Cerezo will finish 3rd. Over 20 000 have showed up on the last 4 matches, and expect even more here as this will be the farewell-match for ”Mr Cerezo” Hiroaki Morishima as well as it being a very important match.

Vegalta Sendai Thespa Kusatsu

Vegalta are without 2 regulars in midfield, and looks overall a bit weakened because of that. They are still able to fiel a strong squad though. Thespa’s only concern is that MF Akiba is suspended. The important midfielder Kumabayashi returns form suspension.

Vegalta only got 2 points in their last 3 matches and are in alarming form at the moment. Another draw or a loss here will most likely mean they will lose that 3rd place. At home they got 3-1-2 on the last 6. Thespa have lost 3 matches in a row, and aren’t in a particular good form them either. Away they only got 0-2-4 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 5-5-0, and this season Vegalta won 1-0 at home and drew 0-0 away.

Vegalta are favorites, but their poor form makes it a tough object. They got alot of pressure on themselves as well, and they’ve finished 4th 3 years in a row or something, and might do it again if they don’t win this one.Thespa doesn’t have too much to play for, but they’ve come up with good results again big teams earlier this season and can do it again.

Come on CEREZO!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

R44 - Thespa demolished by impressive Cerezo

Thespa Kusatsu Cerezo Osaka 0-4
C: Kagawa 21’, 68’, Inui 32’, Kaio 50’

Cerezo impressed by winning 4-0 away at Thespa, and with that kept their hopes alive for finishing 3th which gives playoff. It was never any doubt about where the points would end, as Cerezo dominated from beginning to end, and looked lethal every time they attacked. Kagawa once again put in a marvellous performance, and scored 2 more goals to take his tally to 17 this season. Not bad for a midfielder, and considering his age it’s even more remarkable. Cerezo’s new formation seems to work really good, and Kagawa and Inui in their offensive midfield roles causes alot of problem for the opposition. Both contributed alot with offensive runs and neat passing here, and the 2 were involved in all of Cerezo’s 4 goals. Kagawa gave Cerezo the lead after 21 minutes, and Inui doubled that lead 11 minutes later. Thespa seemed to be atleast one level beneath Cerezo this match, and didn’t create anything that challenged Cerezo’s goalkeeper. Kaio made it 3-0 five minutes after the break before Kagawa scored his 2nd in the 68th minute. The win could have been much bigger, but 4-0 is a result Cerezo should be happy about. Cerezo outshot Thespa 21-9.

Friday, November 28, 2008

J2 round 44: Thespa - Cerezo preview

Thespa’s only concern is that MF Kumabayashi are still out with suspension. Regarded as one of Thespa’s better players, he will be missed. Cerezo are missing DF Omata and Ezoe still, as well as Ale in midfield. New to the list is FW Komatsu, who got injured last round. Komatsu is Cerezo’s topscorer, but is only the 2nd choice up front now behind Kaio. Cerezo plays a 3-6-1 kind of formation now, with 3 central defenders and only a single striker. The speedy and technically midfielders Kagawa and Inui are just behind Kaio up front though, which means they got a pretty strong attack still.

Thespa only got 1-4-5 on the last 10, and looks to be in quite poor form at the moment. They’ve lost 4 of the last 5 matches as well. At home they haven’t been too bad, with 2-3-1 on the last 6. Cerezo got 2 straight wins now, and are desperate for another 3-pointer here to keep their promotion-hopes alive. They’ve won 3 of the last 4, and looks to be in quite good form at the moment, playing some very effective football. Away they got 3-2-1 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 1-1-4, and earlier this season Cerezo won 3-1 away, while Thespa won 2-1 in Osaka.

Cerezo are big favorites, and should normally beat Thespa without too many problems. However, last year in a similar match near the end of the season, Cerezo only managed a 2-2 draw which ended their hopes of promotion back then. It might be a similar story here, but Cerezo looks quite strong at the moment, and although Thespa plays some good football at times, they meet a much better team here. Come on Cerezo!

R43 - Kagawa seals 3 points at home vs Bellmare

Cerezo Osaka Shonan Bellmare 2-1
C: Sakemoto 31’, Kagawa 46’
S: Adiel 5’

Cerezo kept their promotion-hopes alive with a strong 2-1 win at home against fellow promotion-chasers Shonan. Shonan are not out of the race yet, but their form is quite bad at the moment and it’s unlikely they will be able tu surpass both Cerezo and Vegalta on the table. Cerezo’s chances are slim though, as Vegalta can’t take more than 2 points from their last 2 matches. Cerezo has to win their matches, so alot has to go right if Cerezo wants 3rd.
They got off to a very poor start, and Adiel gav SHonan the lead after only 5 minutes on a penalty-kick. They were quick to shake off the early disappointment though, and in the 31st minute Sakemoto’s free-kick went directly into the goal which made it 1-1. Cerezo looked very dangerous, and came up with tons of chances to score. Shonan’s tight defence were hard to break down though, and by half-time the score were still 1-1. Kagawa came up with a little big of magic as he dribbled past a few players before hammering it home with a left-foot drive to make it 2-1 immediately after restart. A great goal from the young midfielder, who’s had a marvellous season. Cerezo controlled pretty much the rest of the match, and took a very deserved win in the end. FW Komatsu were injured early in the match, which meant Furuhashi came on. Kaio returns from suspension next round though, so they should still be able to field a strong attack in the next match. For the 4th time in a row, Cerezo had over 20 000 in the stands, which is even higher than city-rivals Gamba has on their games. Cerezo had 20 shots to Shonan’s 8.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

R42 - We're still in it!

V: Maranhao 9,’39’
C: Kagawa 51’,73’, Fujimoto 69’

Shinji Kagawa

A marvellous turn-around by Cerezo in the 2nd half means they still got a chance of 3rd place, but being 6 points behind Vegalta with 3 matches left it will be tough. Kofu got off to the best start this match, and Maranhao gave them the lead from the penalty-spot after only 9 minutes. He were on target again in the 39th minute after Kofu attacked down the right-hand side. Cerezo looked changed for the 2nd half though, and coach Culpi must have said the right words, cause just a few minutes after the restart gave Kagawa Cerezo a lifeline. Kota Fujimoto, who’s only recently have been involved on the first team, equalized in the 69th minute. Kagawa once again showed how important he is to the team with another goal shortly after, which in the end became the winning goal. Despite some dangerous counter-attacks from Kofu, the result stayed the same, and Cerezo could take 3 very important points. Cerezo opted for a 3-5-2 formation this match, and although the struggled a bit defensively, it worked well in offence. FW Kaio were sent off late in the 2nd half, and the in-form striker will be out for the match against Shonan next round. Cerezo had 13 shots to Kofu’s 11.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

R41 - See you next year Tochigi!

Cerezo Osaka Vegalta Sendai 3-4
C: Sakemoto 17’, Gilton 22’, Kaio 35’
V: Nakashima 12’,51’, Sekiguchi 80’, Nakahara 84’

Cerezo have made it a habit of falling apart in the last stage of the match, and with that giving up a seemingly comfortable lead. They did it against Avispa and Sanfrecce recently, and now they did it to Vegalta as well. A great first half saw Cerezo 3-1 up, but all that effort were worthless after they conceded 3 after the break. With that the promotion-train has already left the station for Cerezo’s sake, and only a miracle will see them finish 2nd or 3rd now.
Atleast one Cerezo-fan didn't seem to let the result affect her mood..

Vegalta got off to the best start, as Nakashima masterfully curled the ball into the top corner to make it 1-0. Just a few minutes later, Sakemoto equalized after a scramble in front of the goal. Brazilian left-back Gilton, who’s been under some critiscism earlier, made amends with a nice goal as he came racing down the left-side. Kaio made 3-1 in the 35th minute, after Vegalta’s goalie suddenly found himself out of the goal. With that, things looked very good for Cerezo, but that were all to change after the break. Cerezo still played good football though, and had the most of the chances. But they couldn’t find the goals, and Nakashima scored a 2nd after beating Germano for the header to make it 2-3 shortly after the break. As the game came to an end, Sekiguchi equalized with a brilliant solo-effort with just 10 minutes to go. Shortly after late-substitute Nakahara took away all hopes for Cerezo with another goal.

Maeda doesn't looks too happy...
Cerezo had 21 shots to Vegalta’s 10, and clearly the home team should have deserved to win. Cerezo doesn’t seem to strong mentally though, and perhaps that’s the main reason why they won’t be in J1 next year. Surely they have enough qualities atleast. Over 20 000 showed up for this match.
Highlights from the match:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

R40 - We're still alive!


S: Takachi 80'
C: Kagawa 44', 86', Inui 60',63'

Cerezo travelled to Kyushu, or more precisely Tosu for their match against Sagan this round. With both teams still in the race for promotion, defeat was not acceptable for either teams. For Cerezo, it was even worse, and a draw or a loss would pretty much kill their hopes of a return to the upper tier of japanese football.

As for the match, both teams showed in the beginning that alot were on stake, and it was a cautious opening. Cerezo dared more than Sagan though, and had a few chances early on. Shinji Kagawa should have put the visitors 1-0 up midway through the half, but alone with Sagan's goalie he ballooned his shot. But Kagawa made amends right before the break with a well-placed shot and put Cerezo in the lead.

Sagan put on a lacklustre performance this match, and didn't had a single chance until they got their consolation goal 10 minutes from full-time. Cerezo started the 2nd half as they finished the first, and the little speedy winger Inui scored to goals within a few minutes. With that the win were out of Sagan's reach, and they looked already resigned. Inui, who were weighed too light in Marinos, has been a revelation in the pink shirt, and should have gotten his hat-trick shortly after. As the match wore on, Cerezo squandered several chances, and instead Sagan scored a lucky goal through substitute Takachi. Kagawa removed all doubt of a Sagan-comeback a few minutes later with a great header after a cross from Sakemoto. Cerezo had 15 shots to Sagan's 11. Next up for Cerezo is Vegalta at home, another must-win game!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

R39 - Another 2 points dropped in Yokohama

Yokohama FC Cerezo Osaka 2-2
Y: Miura 37’, Elizeu 77’
C: Komatsu 66’,74’

Cerezo didn’t manage to pull off a win in Yokohama, and with that their promotion-campaign took another blow. However, most of the others teams above them dropped points as well, so the gap up to 3rd is only 5 points. But with one more game gone, the chances are getting smaller. They should have won this one though, as they dominated pretty much the whole game. They looked terrifying in the beginning of the match, putting the Yokohama-defence under a great amount of pressure. Especially down the left-flank, were Kagawa were a constant threat. But instead it was Yokohama to take the lead, infront of a massive crowd of over 20 000 at National Stadium. Atsushi Miura showed his old legs still got it, and the wing-back found the net with a powerful shot from distance after 37 minutes. That was the only goal we got before the half, and Yokohama held a somewhat lucky lead.

Cerezo didn’t stop to play though, and continued with their offensive strategy. It finally paid off in the 66th minute when Komatsu scored his 15th goal of the season. Not too long after he added another after being beatifully played free by his compatriot up front Kaio. But Miura had more tricks up his sleeves, and with a free-kick he found the brazilian Elizeu free in the box, and Elizeu headed home the equalizer. The end to the match was dramatic as well, with a Yokohama defender being sent off. But we didn’t see any more goals, and 2-2 is a result Cerezo’s coach Levir Culpi won’t be too happy about. Cerezo outshot Yokohama 20-6.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

R38 - Same old, same old...

Cerezo Osaka Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-3
C: Kagawa 8’, Germano 45’
S: Takahagi 40’,42’, Sato 44’

Cerezo’s promotion chances took a real knock as they lost to Sanfrecce at home this round. Sanfrecce scored 3 goals within 4 minutes just before the break, and that little period were enough for them to get away with all points. A huge disappointment for Cerezo, who overall were on level with Sanfrecce for most of this match apart from that letdown before the break. Wonderkid Shinji Kagawa gave Cerezo an early lead after only 8 minutes, and Cerezo looked to be in decent control in the following minutes. They were headed to half-time with a 1-0 lead, but in the 40th minute Takahagi equalized. Just 2 minutes he added another before Hisato Sato made it 1-3 straight afterwards. Cerezo were shocked, but Germano reduced on a penalty-kick to make it 2-3 before the referee blew off for half-time.

Cerezo’s best player this match were Kagawa, but as the match went on Sanfrecce managed to neautralize him and that took alot of the sting out of Cerezo’s attack. Even a few offensive substitutions didn’t help, and in the end Cerezo had to see Sanfrecce get away with all the points. Cerezo had 11 shots to Sanfrecce’s 14.

The good thing we can take from this match is that we had quite a high attendance for the 2nd match in a row. Over 20 000 last round, and this time there were approx. 18 000. Vegalta's loss is also positive, but we need to close in 6 points on the lies of Shonan,Vegalta and Montedio now, as well as get by Sagan... It seems awfully tough, but neither of the teams up there are showing too much consistency so the chances are absolutely there.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

R38 - Up against the Champions

Cerezo Osaka Sanfrecce Hiroshima

For Cerezo, no news since the last match against Avispa, and they are still missing GK Yamamoto, left-backs Omata and Hirajima as well as Ale in midfield. Aizawa is just as good as Yamamoto though in goal, and on the left-back position they got Gilton, a new signing from Brazil that will step in as well as Niwa in back-up. Instead of Ale, former Nagoya-player Aoyama will start. All those injuries will weaken the squad a bit, but Cerezo got many players to choose to from so they should be well-covered..Sanfrecce are missing a few regulars, but they are well-covered all places so it shouldn’t affect the team’s performance in any way. Both teams are likely to field the same squads as last round according to Yahoo.

Cerezo suffered a huge blow when they lost the match vs Avispa last round with 2 conceded goals in the dying minutes. Before that their form were really good. They played quite good against Avispa too, and lead until only 5 minutes remained. So playing-wise, they seem just as strong as earlier. On the last 6 at home Cerezo only got 2-1-3. Sanfrecce secured the J2 title last round, and doesn’t need to take any more points now really. But that doesn’t mean that they will take the last matches lightly, as they are bound for breaking records if they keep it up like this. They’ve won 5 of the last 6 matches, and away they got 3-1-2 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 2-2-4, and earlier this season Sanfrecce won both meetings.

Cerezo got everything to play for, Sanfrecce only records and glory. Therefore the motivation should be alot higher in the home team’s camp. But Sanfrecce is stronger, and ruin Cerezo’s hopes of promotion with a win here. I think it will be close, but the fact that Sanfrecce are already in J1 probably makes them ease down a bit, and that could be the chance Cerezo needs.
MUST WIN game.
Match starts at 13.00 ( Nagai Stadium)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

R37 - Cerezo mess it up - again

Kazuya Maeda and the rest of the players have every reason to feel down about themselves...

Avispa Fukuoka Cerezo Osaka 3-2
A: Okubo 69’,90’, Tanaka 85’
C: Kaio 22’, Kagawa 71’

Cerezo lineup:
GK: Aizawa
DF: Yanagisawa, Maeda, Ezoe, Gilton
MF: Inui,Aoyama,Germano,Kagawa
FW: Kaio, Komatsu

Kaio --> Haneda 71'
Komatsu --> Furuhashi 89'

Up until 5 minutes remaining, things looked great for Cerezo who were up 2-1. but 2 late goals from the home team turned the match around, and for Cerezo’s sake it must have been one of the most bitter defeats this season. The loss means Cerezo are falling further behind the other teams battling fo a top 3 finish, but there are still plenty of points to play for so everything isn’t lost yet.

Cerezo got off to a good start, and put Avispa under pressure immediately. They attacked mainly down the wing, and set up Kaio for several chances. In the 22nd minute, the talented brazilian met a cross from Yanagisawa to make it 1-0. Perhaps he should have scored on one of his other chances as well, but by half-time Cerezo were 1-0 up. Avispa looked a bit more lively after the break, and started creating chances on their own. Their topscorer and prolific striker Okubo equalized in the 69th minute only to see Kagawa take the visitors back into the lead a few minutes later. The end to the match were dramatic, and within the last 5 minutes Avispa turned the match around to take all 3 points. First a goal from Tanaka, before Okubo scored his 2nd of the day with a precise header in injury-time.

All in all the teams were very evenly contested, with 15 shots on goal each. Cerezo were best before the break, but Avispa took more and more over in the 2nd half. Credit to Avispa for coming from behind to take the win, but at the same time it’s disappointing from Cerezo’s side to let it happen in such an important match. Perhaps that’s one of their main problems, not being able to win they need it the most. It happened in 2005, when they lost the title on the last day, and then in 2006 when they got relegated. At the end of last year as well they only needed to win their last 2 matches to get promoted, but also then they messed it up.

Monday, September 22, 2008

R37 - Trip to Fukuoka (preview)

Avispa Fukuoka Cerezo Osaka

Not too many injury problems for Avispa at the moment, who are only missing DF Rudan of any importance. He’s been out for most of the season though, so not the biggest loss. For Cerezo, no news since the last match, and they are still missing GK Yamamoto, left-backs Omata and Hirajima as well as Ale in midfield. Aizawa is just as good as Yamamoto though in goal, and on the left-back position they got Gilton, a new signing from Brazil that will step in as well as Niwa. For Ale, former Nagoya-player Aoyama will start. Both teams are likely to field the same squads as last round according to Yahoo.

Avispa aren’t in the best of forms, with only 1-4--2 on the last 7 matches.They are placed in the middle of nowhere in 9th, and doesn’t have that much to play for. Their home form is quite good though, with 3-3-0 on the last 6. Cerezo got 3-2-0 on the last 5, and seems to be in quite good form at the moment. They’ve impressed play-wise atleast, and should be on roll now. They don’t have the best away record though, with only 2-2-2 on the last 6. Cerezo are currenty in 5th, 3 points behind promotion and the pressure is on for them to get a win. Cerezo got a great record against Avispa, with 5 straight wins. Overall record is 1-2-5, and Avispa’s win came in 2006 when both teams were in J1.

In other words, Cerezo are favorites here, and should be able to win. Avispa are not bad though, and more than good enough to cause problem for Cerezo. It’s just a few days since the last match, and both teams will probably struggle with tired players, as they don’t seem to be making any chances. Cerezo got a better player material, so they should atleast be able to avoid defeat. I think we'll win though.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

R36 - Germano goal saved a point

Germano with another PK goal against Montedio

Cerezo Osaka Montedio Yamagata 2-2
C: Kagawa 22’, Germano 64’
M: Toyoda 33’, 45’

Cerezo lineup:
GK: Aizawa
DF: Yanagisawa, Maeda,Ezoe, Gilton
MF: Inui,Aoyama,Germano,Kagawa
FW: Kaio,Furuhashi

Furuhashi --> Komatsu 55'
Aoyama --> Haneda 69'
Kaio --> Kakitani 79'

Cerezo took on 2nd placed Montedio in a thrilling and evenly-played match this round, and the teams ended up sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw. The match always seemed to have a big nerve in it, and although we didn’t see too many chances it was never a dull moment. Cerezo’s wonderkid Shinji Kagawa gave the hosts the lead after 22 minutes, when Cerezo came up with sone impressive one-touch passing counter-attack that Kagawa coolly finished. But 11 minutes later found Kitamura U-23 NT Striker Toyoda with a cross, and the compact striker did well to equalize. Just before the break Toyoda were on target once again, after Aizawa in Cerezo’s goal failed to hold on to a shot from Miyazawa.

10 minutes into the 2nd half Cerezo changed their topscorer Komatsu in for Furuhashi, and that gave a new spark to Cerezo’s play. A few minutes after that Cerezo were awarded a penalty-kick when Shogo Kobara committed a fould inside the box. Germano converted the PK as usual, and the teams were on level terms again. With a 1-man advantage, Cerezo were suddenly in control of the match, but despite several chances and some offensive substitutions near the end they couldn’t find the winning-goal. Cerezo had 9 shots to Montedio’s 10, and in the end a draw seemed a fair result. Montedio will be most happy about it though, but drawing 2-2 against the 2nd placed team is not something Cerezo can be unhappy with either.

Over 20 000 had met up for this match, which only fellow J2 team Sagan Tosu as well as Kawasaki Frontale managed to beat in the whole J.League this round. It’s quite strange that two of the highest 3 attendances this weekend were J2 matches. Gilton made his debut for Cerezo here, as he stepped in as left-back with both Omata and Hirajima out with injury. Gilton is on-loan from brazilian club Joinville, and he did quite well in his debut match according to reports.
Among the teams chasing promotion, only Vegalta managed to win, so overall the weekend for Cerezo weren't too bad after all despite only managing a point here.
Pictures from the stadium:

Friday, September 19, 2008

R36 - Tough match vs the Mountain Kings ( Preview)

Cerezo Osaka Montedio Yamagata
Cerezo’s injury list are growing again, and now MF Ale is ruled out. From before, DF Omata and Hirajima are out, as well as GK Yamamoto. Omata and Hirajima are both left-backs though, and Cerezo got Niwa in back-up so they should be covered. Ale is harder to replace, but it’s likely Hamada or Sakemoto will take his place in midfield. Hamada is the more defensive type, so probably it will be him. He’s done well in the past, but isn’t as good as Ale. Montedio are only missing DF Kimura, who’s been out for months with a long-term injury.

Cerezo are back on track with 10 points on the last 4 matches. That has taken them up to 4th, just 6 points behind 2nd placed Montedio with a game in hand. That means if they win this one, they could be on level terms with them if they win the game in hand as well. On the last 6 at home they only got 2-0-4, but they’ve won the latest 2.The last match were probably Cerezo’s best all season, when they won 6-0 away vs Gifu. Montedio finally lost again after going 7 matches unbeaten when they met Sanfrecce last round, and 0-4 at home surely affects the morale and confidence of the players. Meeting a strong side like Cerezo might not be the best then after such a heavy defeat. On the last 6 away Montedio got 3-1-2. All previous meetings gives us 4-0-2, and earlier this season both teams won a match each.

Considering the results last round, Cerezo are small favorites here, especially since they seem to be back on the right track again. Player by player they seem stronger than Montedio as well. Ale will be missed though, but the covering player are good as well, so they shouldn’t be too weakened. A very important match for Cerezo, and only a win is good enough.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My trip to Nagai

I've just arrived back from Japan, where I attended the Cerezo - Tokushima match on August the 30th. It was my first time in Nagai since 2006, and it was great to experience the stadium and live J-football again.
I met up with a few Cerezofriends, Heichi, who I've had email contact with for about a year and who's kindly given me updates about Cerezo among other things, and his friend Riki. Outside of the stadium we bumped into MR.Cerezo, Hiroaki Morishima. Talk about luck! I had a little chat with Mr.Morishima, and he kindly signed my newly-bought Cerezo-shirt ( see picture).

Then it were off to buy tickets, and and time to get ready for the match. On the way around the stadium we also got a glimpse of Shinji Kagawa, who were suspended for this match, busy signing autographs for some members of the official Cerezo supporter club.
The giant stadium were by no means full, and only a mere 5000 attended this match. That's a bit disappointing, but that's a part of the not-so-glamorous J2 life I guess.

With Cerezo being a bit off the pace, a win against Tokushima were very important. Cerezo got off to a good start, and already after 3 minutes were they 1-0 up thanks to a goal from Ale. Ale were later announced as the Man of the Match. Cerezo looked to be in control of the match without really dominating, so therefore it was important with the 2nd goal which came through Tatsuya Furuhashi. Furuhashi has had an injury-struck season, and hasn't been anywhere near as good as he was last year. He curled in a free-kick some 16-20 yards out ( see picture).

With that Cerezo could go to half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead. Here's a picture of me and Heichi taken in the stadium:

Soon after the 2nd half started, and we were soon about to see Cerezo score their 3rd goal of the evening. Germano stepped up to take a PK, but did his usual stop'n go twist. Apparently this referee didn't approve that, so it had to be retaken. Germano did exactly the same once more, and the referee ordered it to be retaken again. Germano refused to change his way, and repeated it again. Now the referee allowed it, although it looked exactly the same as the 2 other attempts. Strange. Here's a picture of it:

As you can see the goalkeeper has already gone down which makes it easy for Germano to place it in the open goal. Im not sure if this is allowed or not, but it happened earlier in the season too, against Kofu. With 3 goals up, Cerezo took the foot off the gas-pedal, and allowed Tokushima to get back into the match with 2 quick goals. That made for a nervous finish to the game, but in the end Cerezo held out for the win. All of us were happy with the result, but the finish to the game were crap.

After the game it was off to buy some more Cerezo-accessories, and then grab something to eat at a local izukaya. On the way out of it we ran into some nice Tokushima-fans ( pictured), who after some chatting gave me a Tokushima-scarf.

More pictures from the game will be uploaded later.

R35 - Cerezo puts 6 behind Gifu

Kaio with 3 goals against Gifu

FC Gifu Cerezo Osaka 0-6
C: Kaio 12’,15’90’, Kagawa 60’,Furuhashi 64’, Komatsu 90’

Cerezo went berserk in Gifu for the 2nd time this season, and didn’t stop before they had put 6 goals behind Gifu’s goalkeeper. A huge boost for Cerezo, who proved they are back in the form we expect them to be in. Cerezo’s brazilian forward Kaio got somewhat of a breakthrough here, scoring 3 goals and being a constant threat to Gifu. Already after 15 minutes played had Kaio found the net twice. The early lead made the Cerezo-players relax, and Gifu were forced to play catch-up early on. That was a job they didn’t feel comfortable with at all, and they were never a real threat for the visitors.

Shinji Kagawa, who returned to the squad here after being suspended last round once again turned in a marvellous performance. He scored the 3-0 goal in the 60th minute, and just minutes later added Furuhashi a 4th after picking up a spill ball. The win were already secured at that point, but in injury-time Komatsu and Kaio added 2 more to complete the humiliation of Gifu. Last time Cerezo were in Gifu they won 5-0, so clearly it’s one of their lucky stadiums. Gifu had 6 shots to Cerezo’s 15.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

R35 - Ahead of Gifu - Cerezo

FC Gifu Cerezo Osaka

Gifu doesn’t have an injuries at the moment and can field their best possible lineup. They seem to opt for a defensive 4-5-1 formation though, with just a single forward up front. Usually Katayama and Katagiri pair up, but Katagiri are likely to be sidelined for the 2nd match in a row here. Probably to strengthen the defence, but it didn’t really help last round when they were hammered 1-7 by Hiroshima. For Cerezo their 2 best left-backs are out, as both Omata and Hirajima will sit this one out. But Niwa is available, and he’s done quite well earlier this season on several occasions. GK Yamamoto is also out, but Aizawa is regarded as better anyway so it’s not really a big loss. In other words can Cerezo field a very strong lineup here. Up front topscorer Komatsu are expected to be rested though, which means Furuhashi and Kaio will start. A bit surprising, but coach Culpi seems to have big faith in his compatriot Kaio, although the speedy brazilian are yet to score after 6 matches.

Gifu’s form is pretty bad, and they’ve played 9 matches without winning now. They got 3 straight losses as well and have fallen a few places in the table cause of that. At home they got 1-2-3 on the last 6. For Cerezo things are starting to get better now, with 7 points on their last 3 matches. That means they are still very much in contention for a top 3 finish and promotion, but still trailing the other teams by a few points. A win here could take them on level points with the 3rd placed team though. On the last 6 away they got 2-2-2. Cerezo won both previous meetings this season, including a whopping 5-0 away win.

Cerezo are big favorites here, and anything but an away win would be surprising. Cerezo’s form are on the up, and they rested last round as well which means the players should be in good condition. The big loss against Sanfrecce last round certainly wont help on Gifu’s confidence, who were poor even before that match. Cerezo controlled the last match against Tokushima, only to lose focus in the 2nd half which resulted in 2 goals against and a nervous finish to the match. But they seem to be in good form, and here Kagawa returns as well which only makes it better.
A Must-win game.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Arrived in Osaka

Went to my first Cerezo match for about 2 years today, and it was GREAT. Cerezo won 3-2, the atmosphere were great and I even got to meet Mr Cerezo, Hiroaki Morishima! Some nice Tokushima-fans also gave me a Tokushima-scarf, so everything was great.
No time for writing match report or uploading pics now, but when i get back from japan there will be several pics etc.

De wa Mata!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Osaka next!

Time for the annual Japan-trip, and this time 16 days will be spent mainly in Osaka. Will try to travel around a bit too, and perhaps even go see a few matches. The football-highlight of the trip will of course be the match between Cerezo and Tokushima on August 30th.

So for anyone that will be attending that match, look out for a lost norwegian gaijin dressed in pink.


R32 - ahead of Roasso - Cerezo

Roasso Kumamoto Cerezo Osaka

Roasso has to do without DF’s Yamaguchi and Kawabata still, but got decent cover now that Cha is back. For Cerezo, there are some injuries, with the biggest loss beng FW Furuhashi. GK Yamamoto and DF Omata is out as well, but they got good cover for both of them. Furuhashi’s replacement is Kaio, and he’s done fairly well in the last 2 matches.
Roasso’s form aren’t too bad, as they are unbeaten for 3 matches and got 2-2-1 on the last 5.They are just 2 points behind Ehime now, and can get ahead of them with a win here. Their home form is quite good too, with 3-1-2 on the last 6. Cerezo finally won again last round, and did that by impressing alot playwise although the score were only 2-1 vs Mito. They looked like the same team that impressed earlier by winning several matches in a row, and might be back on track now. Before that they had 3 straight losses. Their away form is 2-1-3 on the last 6. Both teams won a match each earlier in the season, and in Kumamoto Roasso won 3-2 after a hat-trick from Takahashi.
Cerezo are favorites here as they are a much better team, and have improved form-wise as well lately. They got alot more to play for, and can’t afford to miss here. Roasso got a match-winning striker in Takahashi, whic he showed last match vs Cerezo, and he’s in good form at the moment and could cause trouble again here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

R31 - Solid performance against Mito earns 3 points

Cerezo Osaka Mito Hollyhock 2-1
C: Inui 13’, Komatsu 18’
M: Akahoshi 52’

After 4 matches without a win, Cerezo finally found back to winning ways when they met Mito this round. And they played quite a good match too, constantly pressuring Mito’s defence. New signing Inui scored his first ever goal in a Cerezo-shirt in the 13th minute from close range, after a scramble inside the penalty-box. Just 5 minutes later Inui set up Komatsu for Cerezo’s 2nd goal, when Inui dribbled a few guys before taking a shot that Honam in Mito’s GK only could parry for Komatsu to head it home. Cerezo were in total control the first half, and came to tons of chances. Honma in Mito’s goal did a good job at keeping the score at 0-2, and the finishing of particularly Kaio up front weren’t that good either. Mito’s Takafumi Akahoshi reduced to 1-2 a few minutes into the 2nd half after a mistake in the Cerezo-defence, and the away-team looked much more competitive in the 2nd half. But it was no doubt that Cerezo deserved the win, and they outshot Mito 28-9 in the end.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

R31 - vs Mito preview

Cerezo Osaka Mito Hollyhock
Cerezo had to players injured in the last match, and both were pretty serious too. GK Yamamoto is out for 2 weeks, while DF Omata are probably out for the rest of the season. Yamamoto’s loss isn’t the worst, with Aizawa in back-up. Omata’s loss is a little more serious, but that means the new signing from Kyoto Hirajima will take the left-back position. Certainly not a bad replacement, as Hirajima were a regular for Kyoto earlier this season. Up front Furuhashi are still out, which means another new signing Kaio will take place alongside Komatsu. Kagawa are still in Beijing, and is perhaps the biggest loss of them all. Mito on the other hand, doesn’t have any injury-worries at all and will field their best squad here.

Cerezo are in really poor form, and got 3 straight defeats now and just 4 points from their last 7 matches. No wonder they have fallen to 6th in the table. They got 3 relatively easy matches coming up now though so it’s a good opportunity to get back into it. They are currently the worst home team in the league with just 0-1-5 on the last 6, which is quite surprising considering they were almost unbeatable there in the earlier stages of the season.

For Mito, its been a good period lately, with 4-1-2 on the last 7. That means they are in the run for ta top 10 finish, but it’s still a long way to go. On the last 6 away they got 3-0-3.
All previous meetings gives us 3-1-2, and both teams won a match each earlier this season.
Mito aren’t a bad team, and could very well cause trouble for Cerezo here. Considering how poor Cerezo have fared lately as well, it’s more open that what it seems on paper. Surely Cerezo got enough quality to win it though, and sooner or later they got to start winning again.

R30 - Another loss

S: Ishihara 15’,26’, Careca 80’

Cerezo’s misery doesn’t seem to be having an end, and once again they ended up the losing side for the 3rd consecutive match, and for the 6th time in the last 8. But in difference to most of their other losses recently, they totally deserved to lose this time, as Shonan were by far the best team. Naoki Ishihara bagged a brace early in the match to give Shonan a 2-0 lead. First he headed home a cross from Sato, before picking up a spill-ball after a freekick before hammering it in. Ishihara is really on fire at the moment, and only Hisato Sato have scored more than him this season. Cerezo never really looked like threatening Shonan, and even when they swapped DF Ezoe for FW Kakitani they looked toothless in attack. To complete the misery for Cerezo, their former striker Careca added a 3rd with 10 minutes left to play. Careca were a big disappointment at Cerezo, but when he got the chance to play against them he managed for once to find the net. Shonan took a very deserved win in the end, and outshot Cerezo 13-7.

Friday, August 8, 2008

R30 - tough match vs Shonan

Shonan’s only real problem here is that they have to play without Adiel, who’s arguably their most important player. Without him thet lack the offensive creativeness, and looks weaker.Apart from him though, they can field their best possible lineup. Up front Abe and Ishihara has been scoring goals all season, and although Lincoln has left the club, they don’t look too weakened up front. Careca is brought in from Cerezo, but since Cerezo still owns him, he’s ineligible to play if i understood it right. Cerezo on the other hand, are without 2 of their most important playrs in Furuhashi and Kagawa. Furuhashi got injured last match, and will be out for another 3 weeks. For him ,the season has been a major disappointment, and nowhere near as good as last year. Luckily for Cerezo, Komatsu have been scoring goals regularly, and is the team’s topscorer. Along with Komatsu though will wonderkid Kakitani play, but despite being involved in almost every game and starting most of them he’s yet to score a goal. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Cerezo are struggling that much, with strikers not finding the net. Kagawa are busy with the olympics, and will surely be missed with his creative runs, dribbling skills and passing.

Shonan and Cerezo are tied in 5th with 42 points, but the difference is that Shonan are in decent form and Cerezo not. Shonan got 2-3-0 on their last 5 matches, and atleast manages to avoid defeat. They should win more often though if they want to get promoted. At home Shonan got 3-1-2 on the last 6. Cerezo on the other hand, only got 1-1-5 on the last 7, and has with that fallen several places in the table. They are desperate for a 3-pointer now, as they aim for the 2nd place. Luckily for them they play away, where they got 3-1-2 on the las 6. Their home form lately has been horrendous, so it might be better to regain their form away. All previous meetings gives us 3-1-1, and both matches last season in Bellmare ended with home wins. Cerezo won the first meeting this season though 2-0.
Shonan are naturally favorites due to home-advantage, injury-situation and form. But on paper, Cerezo looks the strongest, and if they were to find their form again they could get a result here. The games they’ve lost recently have all been just a by a single goal, and they’ve always been levelled with the competitors on chances etc. But looking at their results, Shonan should be named as favorites.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lose Lose Lose Lose Lose

First, apologies for poor updating lately...cause of the holidays my time is limited these days, but hopegully i will be able to update more often soon :-)

Cerezo Osaka Yokohama FC 1-2
C: Komatsu 86’

Y: Ikemoto 32’,71’

Over 15 000 had showed up to see Cerezo’s match vs Yokohama, but most of them ended up disappointed as Cerezo once again slipped to a defeat at home. This was their 5th loss in 6 home games, which is nothing else than a catastrophy for a title-contender. Remarkably enough though, they are only 3 points behind 3rd placed Sagan, so they must still be considered one of the favorites for promotion. That is however, if they can get their season back on track.

They didn’t look too bad this match, but sloppy defending saw Yokohama get away with 2 goals. First, Ikemoto met a cross from Ota to make it 1-0 after 32 minutes in what was a good Cerezo-period. Cerezo focused their attacks down the flanks, but it was clear they missed Kagawa’s creativity. The wingers did create chances though, but neither Komatsu or Furuhashi managed to convert them. Actually, Furuhashi got injured in the 1st half, which saw Kakitani enter the field instead. The new signing Kaio made his debut as he came on early in the 2nd half, but unfortunately for Cerezo he couldn’t help them in avoiding a defeat.

Ikemoto were on target again in the 71st minute to score Yokohama’s 2nd goal, and with little time left Cerezo’s chances of points looked slim. Heavy pressure on Yokohama saw them get to some chances though, but the only goal they got came in the 86th minute through Komatsu, who scored his 12th goal this season. Perhaps Cerezo should have deserved more, but in the end it was Yokohama who could celebrated a very long-awaited win. Cerezo had 14 shots to Yokohama’s 12.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

R27 - Cerezo - Sanfrecce highlights

Highlights from Cerezo's 1-2 loss against Sanfrecce in R27:

Stunning goal from Kashiwagi, who really seems have found his feet now.

R26 - Vegalta-Cerezo highlights

Highlights from the Vegalta - Cerezo match in R26:

Although made by and for Vegalta fans, it seems to cover the match pretty well. That Sekiguchi is a talented dude though.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

R27 - The agony continues

Cerezo Osaka Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-2
C: Komatsu 52’
S: Sato 55’, Kashiwagi 63’

Poor Cerezo lost again, and were totally outplayed when they met Sanfrecce at home. Sanfrecce’s win should have been by a bigger margin, but Yamamoto in the Cerezo goal had a good day, and denied Sato and the others over and over again. However, with a bit more luck Cerezo would have ended up as winners actually, as they blew a penalty early in the 2nd half. Although Sanfrecce had the most of the chances, that goal could have stirredup the match, leaving Cerezo in charge.

Eve without a lead by half-time, Cerezo looked quite strong when they entered the 2nd half though, and took the lead just 7 minutes after the break. RB Yanagisawa and Komatsu had a nice one-two combination that ended with Komatsu giving Cerezo the lead. But it didn’t last long, and 3 minutes later Sato equalized wit a dynamic and powerful shot from distance. Now it was all Sanfrecce ,and with minutes they were 2-1 up, thanks to a goal the in-form midfielder Kashiwagi. Certainly a deserved lead, but the way it came seemed a bit lucky.
Cerezo threw on some extra firepower near the end, but it didn’t help, and Sanfrecce took all 3 points. With Cerezo’s 7 shots against Sanfrecce’s 20, it was fully deserved as well.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

R27 - Clash of the Titans ( or atleast one)

Cerezo Osaka Sanfrecce Hiroshima

There’s no news on the injury front for Cerezo, and the biggest loss are MF Germano. Cerezo have acquired a new player since last match though, and has rented Kyoto’s DF Hirajima. He’s been a regular starter for Kyoto this season, and will be a good addition to Cerezo. However, FW Yasuhito Morishima have been rented out to J1 side Oita Trinita. Morishima started a few matches lately, has been way down the pecking order this season, and looked like a 6th choice up front. Still, it’s a significant loss. FW Furuhashi are expected to be starting this match, but still has to go through a late fitness test. A very important player, and his return will be highly appreciated.

For Sanfrecce, there’s no news since the last match, and DF Stoyanov does not seem to be ready for the match as he’s struggling with fitness problems. Both their 1st and 2nd goalkeeper are injured, as well as another regular defender in Moriwaki.
Cerezo’s form aren’t the best, with just a single win in their last 5 matches and just 2 in the last 8. But they still holds the 2nd place, and there’s been vast improvements over the last 2 matches. They drew Vegalta last round away ,which is a strong result, but actually they deserved to win. Cerezo are typically a very solid home team, but got a mediocte 2-1-3 on the last 6 in Osaka. For Sanfrecce, they look scincillatiing, with 10 wins in their last 13, and back-to-back wins in their last 2.Away they are equally as impressive, with 5-0-1 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 2-2-3, with Sanfrecce winning the last match 4-1 at home earlier this season. Before that, Cerezo had 4 matches without a loss, but that was in 2006.
Sanfrecce are favorites due to their superior form, but they meet a team most people regard are equally as good to them. Surely there’s lots of potential in Cerezo, but they haven’t been 100% up to it this season. Cerezo are usually a very strong home team as well,but it’s a wide-open match

Thursday, July 17, 2008

R26 - Scoreless draw in Sendai

The two top teams Vegalta and Cerezo shared the spoils in 0-0 draw in Sendai this round, but despite the lack of goals, it was an entertaining mach. A draw is a result neither of the teams should be particularly happy with, as we’re in a phase of the season where winning is as important than ever. But with the teams fighting for the same places, atleast none of them fell behind.

Reports says Cerezo were the best team, but couldn’t quite capitalize on their chances. Once again Shinji Kagawa was a menace, and set up his team-mates on several occasions. However, it was Cerezo’s sturdy defensive play that was most impressive this match, and they managed to keep a clean sheet against a tough opponent. Likewise for Vegalta, who seems to have problems finding the net at home though. They haven’t scored for 3 matches in Sendai, which is quite rare.
All in all a fair result, but Cerezo had the edge for the most of the match, and with a bit more spark in their attack, they would have won it. Vegalta had 12 shots to Cerezo’s 17.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kagawa set for Beijing Olympics!

Cerezo's wonder-kid Shinji Kagawa has been named as one of the 18 players that will make the trip to Beijing and the Olympic Games. It was news taken out of the blue, as Kagawa has never been involved with this team before. But despite his young age ( 19), Kagawa has already gotten his debut on the Japan NT squad, and even played as a starter in the important WC-qualifying matches a month ago. Surely this is a good opportunity for Kagawa to shine at the world-stage, and a quick peek at the full roster for the Olympic suggest that Kagawa might get an important role, as he's one of few offensive players in midfield.
Congratulations to Kagawa, and although he will be missed during the games, I bet all of Cerezo's fans are happy with the news.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

R26 Vs Vegalta preview

Vegalta Sendai Cerezo Osaka

Vegalta got a couple of new additions to their injury list, but neither GK Schneider or FW Suzuki are regulars. Schneider were the forst choice in goal last season, but has been demoted to the bench now. For Cerezo, the very important DF Maeda is fit again, and Cerezo can now field their strongest back-line, which will boost their chances. Germano are still out in midfield as long as Furuhashi up front. MF Ale is also back from suspension.
Vegalta’s form is not too bad, with 3-1-1 on the last 5 matches. They haven’t been too consistent though, and dropped points in fairly easy matches. Vegalta’s home form is 3-1-2. They took a strong 2-1 away win against Sagan in the last round. Cerezo had 3 straight defeats before they met Montedio away last round, and agains the odds they managed to beat an in-form home side 2-0. A strong result, but here Cerezo are facing another top-team. Cerezo have a good away record though, with 4-0-2 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 3-0-4, and Cerezo won the first meeting this season 2-1 at home.
It’s pretty open who’s gonna win it here as well, as neither of the teams have shown a particular good form lately. Cerezo looked good in their last match, and gets few key-members back since then. Vegalta are without any regulars, but often fails to deliver againt good teams. I think it will be a closely fought match, and most likely a 1-goal win to either of the teams. Hopefully Cerezo :-)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

R25 - J2 results

Ehime FC Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-2
S:Takahaji 4’, Sato 32'
League-leaders Sanfrecce took all 3 points when they battled it out against Ehime away this round, and won 2-0. It was a closely contested match though, and Ehime could very well have won it. In fact, Ehime had more shots on goal than the visitors, and it was surprising to see how easy Sanfrecce’s usually sturdy defence let Ehime get shots at them.
A good start from Sanfrecce made Ehime’s case look tough, and Takahaji gave them the lead on a counter-attack after only 4 minutes. It didn’t take too long before Sanfrecce’s lead were doubled, when Sato were on the receiving end of a pass from DF Aoyama, who did great to create space for himself with a surging run forward. He showed great passing skills inside a small space, and Sato had an easy job scoring.
Ehime, who had gone 8 matches unbeaten at home before this match, tried their best to get back into the match, and began making vigorous attacks down both flanks, and created several chances. Lack of accuracy in the finishing let them down though, and even though they put in 2 new strikers it didn’t help. Ehime had 17 shots to Sanfrecce’s 14, and on a better day Ehime would have won this.

Thespa Kusatsu Avispa Fukuoka 1-2
T: Goto 75’
A: Havenaar 38’, Nakajima 67’

After 6-2-0 on the last 8,Thespa were beaten by Avispa at home in a match they should have won. Avispa won 2-1, but it was Thespa that looked the best team, and also had most of the chances. A strong performance from the visitors either way.
Thespa started the game best, and impressed with neat one-touch passing that left the Avispa-defenders running around chasing the ball. But it didn’t result in too many chances, and eventually Avispa found out of the tricky passing game. The tall FW Havenaar gave Avispa the lead a few minutes before the break, with a powerful header from close range. A somewhat undeserved lead by half-time, but it were going to get worse for Thespa.
As neither of the teams managed to build up a momentum in the 2nd half, the teams made a few changes. It didn’t have an immediate effect, but it opened up a little more. Nakajima doubled Avispa’s lead with a shot from a free-kick midway through the half, and now Thespa’s chances of a point looked slim. They managed to get one back though a few minutes later through Goto, but in the end they lost. Avispa got DF Nagira 10 minutes from full time, but even with a man extra Thespa failed to break down the defence. Thespa had 8 shots to Avispa’s 5.
S: Abe 67’

Shonan disappointed by only managing a draw away against Tokushima this round, who had 4 straight losses ahead of this one. Shonan doesn’t look like a promotion-contender at the moment, and were lucky to even get the draw here.
Tokushima started the game best, and came to a few big chances early on. They stood high with their defence, which also let Shonan get a few chances on counter-attacks. Most of the action took place after the break though, and the away team took the lead midway through the 2nd half with Yojiro Abe, who fired home a cross from the right. The goal came in a good Shonan-period, and if it hadn’t been for Shimazu in the Tokushima goal, Shonan would have had a bigger lead.
Tokushima didn’t give up though, and got their deserved equalizer 10 minutes from full-time. Another Abe scored the goal, the substitute Yutaro who scored with a header after an inswung free-kick. Tokushima did their best to get the winning goal, but despite a few big chances near the end, the match ended 1-1. Tokushima had 12 shots to Shonan’s 10.
M: Hori 12’, 69’, Arata 44’

Mito took their 2nd win in a row when they impressed by beating Roasso 3-1 away this round. A strong win and it was deserved too.
Mito’s MVP were by no dout midfielder Kento Hori, who scored twice to secure all 3 points for the visitors. He got on the scoresheet early on, and gave Mito the lead after 12 minutes with a well-taken shot. Roasso took over after the goal, and put Mito under big pressure to try to get the equalizer.But Mito’s defence had a good day, and managed to withstand the Roasso attacks. However, right before the break Roasso got their equalizer through MF Komorida, who just had returned from injury. But Roasso’s joy weren’t to last long, as Mito’s topscorer Arata scored his 7th goal of the season just 2 minutes later to make it 1-2 by half-time.
The 2nd half were a little bit more off the pace, and both teams looked to be running out of steam. Mito managed to look the sharpest though, and Hori got the honour of killing the game off with his 2nd goal midway through the half. A well-deserved win for Mito, who climbed to 12th with the win. Mito had 15 shots to Roasso’s 9.

Sagan Tosu Vegalta Sendai 1-2
S: Hirose 44’
V: Okayama 64’, Ryan Yong Gi 73’

In the battle for 4th place Vegalta beat Sagan 2-1 away, and are now 1 point ahead of them with a game in hand. Both teams had varying results going into this match, but Vegalta showed alot more willingness and poise and were deserved winners.
Sagan got off to the best start though, and looked the sharpest in the first half. Vegalta opted for counter-attacks, but never really managed to get near enough Sagan’s goal for a shot. Sagan took the lead just before the break through Hirose, who scored his first goal of the season.
Vegalta made a few substitutions going into the 2nd half though, and it paid off immediately. Vegalta looked totally changed, and took over the match. Okayama equalized with a nice shot from a set-play in the 64th minute, and it didn’t take long before Ryan had put them 2-1 up. Sagan’s Hidaka fouled a Vegalta striker inside the box, and were rightfully sent-off. Ryan converted the PK with ease, and after the goal it was all Vegalta. Sagan had enough trouble defending themselves, and clearly the one-man deficit affected their play. Vegalta should have scored a couple of more goals, but they managed to win atleast. Vegalta had 14 shots to Sagan’s 6.

Yokohama and Kofu shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw, and that’s a result Kofu should be most happy about. Yokohama were the best team, but can only blame themselves for not being able to score on any of their chances. They had the similar problem last round, when they were held at home by Thespa in another 0-0 draw.
Yokohama looked the best already early on, and got to several big chances in the first half. Anderson had a few dangerous shots, and Nanba’s header were cleared on the line by a Kofu-defender. Right before the break Miura were unlucky not to score from a free-kick, so it was basically one-way traffic. Kofu managed to get alittle more into the game for the 2nd half though, and played a very good game defensively. But overall, they were lucky to escape with a draw, but as both teams are stuck in the middle of the table, the match weren’t the most important one anyway. Yokohama had 12 shots to Kofu’s 5.

R25 - Cerezo back on track with a win in Yamagata

Montedio Yamagata Cerezo Osaka 0-2
C: Inui 47’, Komatsu 74’

Cerezo ended their streak of defeats with a strong 0-2 win at Montedio this round, which means they are tied with Montedio for 2nd place now. A highly important win, and considering Cerezo were without several key players it was a strong performance as well. For Montedio it was their 2nd straight defeat, and perhaps their good form is about to end.

The match were pretty intense, with quick football and neat passing from both sides. Both defences had a good game though, and the first half didn’t have any real chances. But despite the lack of chances, it was never boring. Cerezo fielded two fairly new signing in midfield this match, in Inui and Aoyama. Inui gave Cerezo the lead a few minutes into the 2nd half when Kagawa set him up after a nice dribbling run. A deserved lead, as Cerezo had the most of the possession. As the match went on, Cerezo still looked like the team in charge, and when Komatsu doubled their lead after receiving a through-pass in the 74th minute, the match were practically over as Montedio realized they wouldn’t get any points from here. A few weeks ago Montedio’s star striker Toyoda returned from injury ( unavailable this match though due to U-23 duties), and the other big-name up front Rychelly made his comeback this match by coming off the bench. Rychelly didn’t had much of an impact on the game though, but surely having those 2 back will be a major boost as they try to defend their 2nd place position. Cerezo had 13 shots to Montedio’s 8th.

R15 - J1 results

The biggest match of the round took place in Kashiwa, where Reysol beat Gamba 1-0 after a late goal from Tadanari Lee.
Although Gamba had the most of the chances, Reysol had the biggest ones, and the home-team looked very dangerous every-time they went near the Gamba-goal. It was Franca’s first start this season, and he proved his worth to the team on several occasions with some nice combination plays. Franca and Lee is a dangerous duo up front, and with help from the likes of Popo, Shigehara among others in midfield they make one of the best offensive line-ups in the league. Gamba’s biggest chances came through Bare, but the big striker failed to find the net this match. Reysol’s keeper had a good day, and came up with several good saves.
The only goal of the match came in the 75th minute, when Franca set up Lee to fire home a powerful shot. It came in a good Gamba period, and they put in a good attempt to get back into the match after Lee’s goal. But Reysol rode the storm off, and could take yet another big win that means they are in 3rd, one point ahead of Gamba in 5th. Reysol had 8 shots to Gamba’s 20, and Gamba deserved more from this match.

Kawasaki Frontale Yokohama F Marinos 2-1
K: Ganaha 10’, Juninho 91’
Y: Yamase 43’

For the first time this season, Kawasaki could pair up Juninho and Ganaha up front, and the 2 strikers that formed such a great partnership the previous seasons had a good game together, and both got on the scoresheet. Ganaha where highly undoubtful for the match though, but a late fitness test saw him make it in the starting eleven.
He didn’t took long before scoring the opening goal, when he pounded in a rebound from a Juninho-shot after only 10 minutes. With that the tone were already set, and the 2 rival teams played a competitive and entertaining match this evening. Marinos’s playmaker Yamase scored from a direct free-kick to make it 1-1 just before the break, and for long it looked like it would save a point for the visitors.
The 2nd half were played in a slightly slower tempo, perhaps cause the players were losing stamina. Frontale looked the most likely winner though, and when they subbed in Chong Tese for Ganaha who were running out of steam, they sparked into life again and got to a few chances. Marinos got Kawaii sent off a few minutes before full-time, and in injury-time Frontale exploited the one-man-deficit of Marinos, when Juninho scored on a volley-shot after a corner. Frontale had 12 shots to Marinos’s 9, and deserved the win.
O: Maeda 25’

Kyoto were unlucky only to get a draw when they met Oita at home. Kyoto had most of the possession and also most of the chances. Only sloppy finishing and good goalkeeping from Nishikawa kept Oita in this game.
It started well for Kyoto though, as Watanabe exploited a mix-up in the Oita defence and ran towards goal with 2 defenders surrounding him. Watanabe found Yanagisawa with a clever pass, and the striker slid in the opening goal. But just a few minutes later, Maeda equalized on a rare chance for Oita, with a header that Kyoto’s goalkeeper should easily have saved.
Kyoto dominated most of the play, and had several chances to double their tally, both before and after the break. But their target striker Yanagisawa were usually were ineffective, and when Fernandinho and the others didn’t managed to hit the target either they only managed a draw. Oita came close a shock win when Ueslei hit the bar with a swirling shot, but that would have been very undeserved. Kyoto had 15 shots to Oita’s 6.

Urawa Red Diamonds FC Tokyo 2-0
U: Edmilson 3’, Nagai 88’

Urawa hit back after 2 straight defeats, and defeated a strong FC Tokyo side by 2-0 at home this round. Urawa got off to a good start, and should have lead by a couple of goals by half-time. Takahara were placed on the bench for this one, which left way for Tatsuya Tanaka to start alongside Edmilson. Those two combined very well, and with a little more playing time they might turn out to be the deadliest partnership in the league. Tanaka’s comeback were a joy to watch, and he impressed more this match than Takahara has done all season. Tanaka were the man behind the first goal, as he got loose on the left and sent in a diagonal pass for Edmilson to fire home in the opening minutes. Tanaka and Edmilson got to a couple of other chances as well, but either Shiota in the Tokyo goal saved it or they failed to hit the target.
The first half were pretty much dominated by Urawa, althought Tokyo got more into the game near the end. They even had a big chance through Konno, who hit the post with his header. After the break, the match had completely turned, and suddenly Tokyo looked the fiercest team, dominating the play. Urawa didn’t come to any chances until they scored the winning goal in the dying minutes, which underlines how good Tokyo were. But the finishing weren’t up to par, and in the end Urawa deserved the win. One of the reasons why Tokyo took more over is perhaps that Tanaka,Edmilson and the very inspiring Robson Ponte all were forced to leave the field early in the 2nd half. Those 2 were the biggest contributors offensively, and they lost the spark in the attack when they went out. When Tokyo were pressing forward for the equalizer, they left alot room left in defence, and Nagai got a rare chance in the 88th minute when he were played through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Nagai did everything right and punctuated the game with a clinical strike. Urawa had 10 shots to Tokyo’s 12.

Albirex Niigata Nagoya Grampus Eight 2-1
A: Matsushita 59’,Yano 83’
N: Masukawa 74’

Albirex took their 4th win in the last 5 matches when they beat 2nd placed Nagoya 2-1 at home. An impressive win, which means Albirex are in 9th place, just 4 points behind the 3rd placed team. After a very poor start to the season, few would have predicted that Albirex would turn it around like this. Likewise, Nagoya seemed to have fallen apart now, and dropped to 4th with this loss. With just 2 wins in their last 8 matches their form isn’t the best.
It was a very entertaining match, with plenty of chances, and both teams should have scored atleast a couple of more goals. Especially in the first half did they waste chances, and all goals came after the break. Albirex dictated most of the play though, and were deserved leaders in the end. Matsushita scored the opening goal in the 59th minute after a nice pass from right-back Uchida. Nagoya had several chances to equalize, and Johnsen atleast should have managed to get on the scoresheet this match. It was clear that Nagoya were missing their playmaker Magnum though. They still managed to find the net once, when Masukawa headed home a corner-kick in the 74th minute. But it proved to be worthless, because 7 minutes from full-time Kisho Yano scored the winning goal for Albirex. The home team had 20 shots to Nagoya’s 14.
K: Ogasawara 3’, Motoyama 34’

Antlers took their 3rd win a row when they beat Jubilo 2-1 away this round. That means they are in 2nd place now, only 1 point behind leading Urawa. Antlers certainly looks very strong this season, and look like early favorites for the title. Jubilo became atleast a number too small this match, and Kashima deserved the win.
The playmaker Ogasawara gave Kashima an early lead after only 3 minutes, after some nice play from Araita on the flank. Araibia had a very good match and set up both of Antlers’s goals. The 2nd goal came in the 28th minute, and was another high cross that Motoyama haded home to make 2-0 for the visitors.
Jubilo weren’t all lost though, and had several chances for themselves to score. The only goal the got came after an hour or so, when Cullen met a cross form Murai wih his head. The end of the match where very entertaining as Jubilo chased the equalizer, which left room for Kashima on counter-attacks. In the end it became another loss for Jubilo though, who struggled down in 16th now with 4 losses in their last 5 matches.

A single goal from Leandro were enough for Vissel to beat Omiya at home, in a slowly-paced contest without too many chances. The teams were evenly contested, and the win could have gone either ways. Vissel ended up as winners in the end though, which seems fair.
Leandro gave Vissel the lead with a fabulous strike from distance after only 9 minutes, which meant Omiya had to play catch-up for the entire match. They struggled to get past the sturdy Vissel defence though, who played one of their better matches this season. Omiya’s usually effective play on the wings weren’t too good either this match, with overall poor crossing. Vissel were by far the best team in the first half, but Omiya looked the strongest after the break. If the visitors had been a bit more lucky, they could have gotten an equalizer,and especially Marques should have scored. Vissel withstood it though, and in the end they could take a very important win that propelled them out of the relegation zone and into 12th. Vissel had 8 shots to Omiya’s 9.

Tokyo Verdy JEF Utd Ichihara 3-0
T: Hulk 49’, Shibasaki 58’, Diego 79’

Verdy completely out-classed JEF this round as they beat them 3-0 at home. All goals came in the 2nd half, and JEF were lucky to escape with only 3 conceded goals.
Verdy were very deserved winners, and looked the best team for most of the match. They weren’t as dominant in the first half as in the 2nd though, and if JEF have scored on one of their big chances in the first half the match might have been different.
In the 2nd half, it was a complete one-way traffic out there, and JEF didn’t have a single shot on goal. Hulk gave Verdy the lead a few minutes after the break with a powerful shot from distance with his left-foot that left JEF’s keeper stranded. IT didn’t take long before Verdy were 2-0 up, when Shibasaki scored after Hulk set him neatly up. Verdy’s gifted brazilian trio over and over again caused trouble for JEF’s defence, and Diego got the honour of rounding it off with another strike from distance. A very deserved win, and a proof of why JEF are struggling down in the relegation-zone. Verdy had 18 shots to JEF’s only 5.

Consadole Sapporo Shimizu S-Pulse 2-2
C: Davi 29’, Ikeuchi 75’
S: Nishizawa 13’, Marcos Paulo 45’

Consadole and Shimizu fought it out in a close encounter at Atsubetsu Stadium this round, and the teams shared the spoils with a 2-2 result. It was overall a very closely contested match, but the visitors looked marginally the better team. Atleast in the first half the visitors looked good, and took an early lead through Akinori Nishizawa. The veteran striker headed home a cross from Edamura in the 13th minute to make it 1-0 for Shimizu. But the lead didn’t last long, cause in a good Shimizu period Consadole got a corner. Clayton’s in-swinger precisely found the rising Davi in the box, who easily converted his header. As the teams battled it out, and were preparing for half-time, Fujimoto combined well with the brazilian striker Marcos Paulo to set up Shimizu’s 2nd goal. In the dying seconds of the first half Paulo received a nice through pass that set him free to score alone with Consadole’s keeper.
For the 2nd half, Shimizu continued to be the team in charge,but didn’t come to that many chances. Neither did the home-team, but somewhat against the play they still managed to find an equalizer for the 2nd time in the match. Clayton were the one with the assist this time as well, with a nice cross to Ikeuchi who scored with his head. Despite heavy pressure near the end, Shimizu couldn’t find the winning goal, and in the end they might should have deserved more. Overall pretty even though between 2 teams stuck near the bottom of the table.. Consadole had 9 shots to Shimizu’s 8.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

R25 - Tough match vs The Mountain Kings

Montedio Yamagata Cerezo Osaka
For Montedio, there’s 2 new additions to their list of absent players. FW Toyoda got some 20 minutes on the pitch last match, but he are out with U-23 NT duties. DF Kimura is missing as well with an injury.
For Cerezo, the list are still huge, and the only change since last match is that DF Haneda are out with suspension. But righ-back Omata are back from suspension, so in terms of number of regulars missing it’s not any changes. Haneda are harder to replace than Omata though.

Montedio lost against Gifu last round, and have only 1 win in their last 4 matches now. They seem to be a bit out of it but still holds 2nd place. Montedio’s home form is simply amazing though, with 7 straight wins and 8-2-0 on the last 10. They’ve been unbeatable on home soil lately. For Cerezo, they lost again last round, and have 5 losses in their last 7 now, which means they’ve fallen to 4th. With 5 regulars plus 2 support players out, that’s the most obvious reason for the slump in form, but there seems to be some other problems too.
Cerezo’s away form is quite good though, with 4-0-2 on the last 6. All previous meetings gives us 2-0-3, with Montedio winning the first match this season 1-3 away.

Montedio have scored tons of goals lately at home, and conceded very few. 16-3 in goal-difference is impressive. Like-wise, Cerezo have scored plenty away, and got 15 goals in the last 6. I think we’ll see an entertaining match with some goals here, as it’s 2 attacking-oriented teams that meets.
Unfortunately, Montedio looks most likely win.