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.