Monday, March 2, 2009

J1 2009 preview: Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Stadium: Hiroshima Big Arch (55,000)
Average attendance 2008: 10,840
Last season's finish: 1st ( J2)

2009 season's transfers:
GK Yutaro Hara (Promoted from youth team)
DF Shogo Nishikawa (Returned from Tokushima Vortis)
MF Takashi Rakuyama (Transferred from JEF United Ichihara Chiba)
MF Mihael Mikić (Transferred from NK Dinamo Zagreb)
MF Koji Nakajima (Transferred from JEF United Ichihara Chiba)

DF Kozo Yuki (End of loan from JEF United Ichihara Chiba)
FW Stjepan Jukić (Transferred to NK Croatia Sesvete)
GK Koichi Kidera (Transferred to Zweigen Kanazawa)
MF Kazuyuki Toda (Released)
FW Shunsuke Maeda (Transferred to Oita Trinita)

My view on the transfers:
Sanfrecce have kept all their regulars from last season, with only 2nd string players leaving the squad. They've been quiet on the transfer market as well though, with only Croatian winger Mikic as the only major addition to the team. An experienced player, but he will meet fierce competition from the likes of Kashiwagi and Takahagi. Nishikawa, who returns from Tokushima, adds depth to the defence, and the same goes for a couple of other midfielders brought in mainly to be used as back-up players.

Preferrable starting line-up:
3-5-2: Shimoda - Makino, Stoyanov, Moriwaki - Takahagi, Ka.Morisaki /Ri Han-Jae, Ko. Morisaki, Hattori, Kashiwagi / Mikic - Sato, Kubo / Hirashige

My view on the team:
Sanfrecce has produced alot of talents over the last couple of years, and have a very solid squad now. In goal veteran Shimoda will probably still be regarded as no.1, although he lost big parts of the 2008-season to injuries which let rookie Sato guard the posts in 28 matches. Sato did his job quite well, and might give Shimoda a hard fight for the no.1 spot. The defence is quite good as well, and most likely Sanfrecce will adapt a 3-5-2 formation. They don't have too many options back there though, and it's important to avoid injuries on the regulars. The midfield is without a doubt Sanfrecce's strongest part, with 6-7 class players. It will be hard to please them all, as one or two of them atleast will have to sit on the bench if all are fit. Up front Sato is a class-act, but there are question marks over his partners Kubo and Hirashige, who neither had a particular good 2008-season. Kubo is getting older and are more prone to injuries, where as Hirashige only on occasions sparkled last year. If both fails to deliver, a 3rd option would be to push Kashiwagi further up in the pitch, leaving space for Mikic on the flank.

Player to watch: Yojiro Takahagi

Manager: Mihailo Petrovic
An experienced manager that has coached clubs all over Europe in the past with reasonably success. Managed to get relegated with Sanfrecce in 2007 against all odds, but were given the chance to take them back up the following year, and led Sanfrecce safe through J2 last season in a very dominant way. Seems like a solid coach, and has brought in his compatriot Mikic ahead of this season.

Got a good core of supporters that gives everything for the team, but aren't particularly big in numbers. A good thing is that the average crowd only decreased by a mere 1000 pr game from 2007 to 2008, even though they played in a lower league. Very loyal fans, and expect approximately 15 000 on average this season.

Where will they finish:
I think Sanfrecce learned their lesson back in 2007, when they kept on saying "we're too good to be relegated" but had to face the drop still. The team look even stronger now, but even though they cruised through J2 last season doesn't mean they will get an easy task this year. If they manage to finish somewhere around mid-table they should be happy. I don't think they will be one of the three squads that will be relegated, although the possibility is absolutely present.



Endo said...

Nice one, but are you sure with Shimoda between the posts? i mean he didn't play a single match in 2008. Akihiro Sato played 24.
I'm sure it will be Sato :)

NipponBasse said...

Well, Shimoda was injured for most parts of the 2008-season, but as far as I know he¨s still regarded as the club's no.1. I doubt Sato is any worse though, and he will probably see alot of playing time as well.