Monday, March 2, 2009

J1 2009 preview: Vissel Kobe

Stadium: Kobe Wing Stadium (34,500) and Kobe Universiade Stadium (45,000)
Average attendance 2008: 12,981
Last season's finish: 10th

2009 season's transfers:
GK Kenta Tokushige (Transferred from Urawa Red Diamonds)
DF Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (Transferred from Red Bull Salzburg)
DF Ryuhei Niwa (Returned from Cerezo Osaka)
DF Tsubasa Oya (Drafted from Kansai University)
MF Alan Bahia (On loan from Clube Atl├ętico Paranaense)
MF Akihito Kusunose (Drafted from Ryutsu Keizai University F.C.)
FW Kazuki Ganaha (Transferred from Kawasaki Frontale)
FW Marcel (On loan from S.L. Benfica)
MF Keisuke Kurihara (Transferred to Tochigi S.C.)
FW Leandro (Transferred to Gamba Osaka)
FW Yoshito Okubo (Transferred to VfL Wolfsburg)
MF Tomoyuki Sakai (Released)
MF Takayuki Toyomitsu (Released)
GK Kohei Doi (On loan to Mito HollyHock)
MF Keita Sogabe (Transferred to Vegalta Sendai)
FW Masahiro Ito (Released)
DF Keiichi Misawa (Transferred to Thespa Kusatsu)
GK Kota Ogi (On loan to Ventforet Kofu)
DF Shusuke Tsubouchi (On loan to Oita Trinita)
DF Kiyokazu Masuda (Transferred to Arte Takasaki)
MF Kim Tae-Yeon (On loan to Mito HollyHock)
FW Shingo Kinoshita (Transferred to MIO Biwako Kusatsu)

My view on the transfers:
Vissel have lost both their two best forwards since last season, as Okubo has headed for Germany while Leandro were sold to Gamba. Vissel have brought in out-of-favour striker Ganaha from Kawasaki Frontale, as they are hoping the talented striker will revive his career in Kobe. Also, Marcel has joined the ranks on a one year loan deal from Portuguese outfit Benfica. It remains to be seen if the two can fill the holes left behind by Okubo and Leandro, as both the two players have under-performed in recent years. DF Miyamoto is a solid acquisition to the defence, which definitely strengthens the team. In midfield, Alan Bahia is new from Atletito Paranaense, where he was regarded as one of the pillars of the team. Leandro and Okubo are the only departed players of any significance.

Preferrable starting line-up:
4-4-2: Enomoto - Yanagawa / Niwa, Kitamoto, Miyamoto, Mogi / Kobayashi - Kim, Botti / Park, Bahia, Suzuki / Tanaka - Ganaha / Yoshida, Marcel

My view on the team:
Despite the fact that Kobe's two best players have left, they look almost better this season as they have strengthened each section of the team. Whether or not Ganaha and Marcel can replace Okubo and Leandro remains to be seen, but with Bahia and Miyamoto brought in as well as Niwa returning from Cerezo they look a more complete team this season. Last year their defence were hampered by alot of injuries, which meant alot of different players saw some action. With more options back there this year they should be better covered if that is to happen again. Vissel got five foreigners in the team, three Brazilians and two Koreans, which means one of them have to be left out of the squad at all time. The weakest among them seems to be Park, which means Bahia will probably take his role within the team. They got a solid squad, and even some decent back-ups if needed.

Player to watch: Marcel

Manager: Caio Junior
Despite his young age, Caio is an experienced manager that has been in charge of several top clubs in Brazil. Last year he coached Flamengo in which he finished 5th with. In 2007 Caio were rated as the 2nd best coach in the Brazilian League. Supporters:Despite having two big and spacious stadiums, Kobe only averages around 12 000 each season, which is among the lowest in J1. They have a nice group of supporters though, and when the club are playing in the high-tech Kobe Wing Stadium they usually manages to create a good atmosphere as well. Where will they finish:Kobe doesn't look too bad, and I think they will be able to fight for a finish on the upper half of the table. They got a squad filled with potential, and will prove a hard opponent for even the best teams. I don't think they will be able to fight for a top 5 finish though, but they should be able to match last season's finish atleast.

7th - 11th

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