Monday, March 2, 2009

J1 2009 preview: Yokohama F Marinos

Stadium:Nissan Stadium (72,600)
Average Attendance 2008: 23,682
Last season's finish: 9th

2009 season's transfers:
MF Jeong Dong-Ho (Drafted from Boo-Kyung High School)
FW Mike Havenaar (Returned from Avispa Fukuoka)
FW Kazuma Watanabe (Drafted from Waseda University)
FW Manabu Saito (Promoted from youth team)
FW Jin Hanato (Promoted from youth team)
MF Hayuma Tanaka (Transferred to Nagoya Grampus)
MF Lopes (End of loan from Cruzeiro Esporte Clube)
FW Hideo Ōshima (Transferred to Albirex Niigata)
GK Daijiro Takakuwa (Transferred to Tokushima Vortis)
MF Taku Ishihara (Released)MF Takashi Inui (Transferred to Cerezo Osaka)

My view on the transfers:
Marinos have released their topscorer last season Oshima to Albirex Niigata, as well as the talented wing-back Tanaka to Nagoya. Both important members to the squad, and might turn out hard to be replaced. MF Lopes never really managed to live up to his expectations, and has left the club. The only newcomer of any importance is FW Havenaar, who has returned from J2 outfit Avispa where he spent the entire 2008-season. Havenaar only scored 8 goals, and it's hard to see him filling Oshima's shoes. Much the same type of player though, so he will probably get some chances to break into the first-team.

Preferrable starting line-up:
4-4-2: Enomoto - Komiyama, Nakazawa, Matsuda, Tanaka/Kurihara - Kano, K.Yamase, Hyodo/Kawai, Ogura/Hasegawa - Sakata, Havenaar

My view on the team:
Marinos looks strong in defence, but lacks depth in attack without any real goalgetters. Nakazawa/Matsuda forms perhaps the best central-defence in the league, and the sidebacks are quite strong as well. Koji Yamase is a great playmaker, but the players surrounding him doesn't quite match his level. MF Kano, who only worked his way into the team near the latter half of last season, showed great technical skills, and also has a killer-instinct and enough egoism to do things on his own. If he can build on that, Marinos will surely get a whole new dimension to their attack. They don't have too many strikers to choose from though, and Sakata and Havenaar are expected to be the regulars.

Player to watch: Kenta Kano

Manager: Takashi Kuwahara
Kuwahara took over Marinos midway through last season, and managed to steer the club clear of relegation. He doesn't have too much experience prior to that, but Marinos looked a better side with him at the helm than earlier that season.

Marinos averaged around 23 000 last season, which is quite high. But they have a gigantic stadium, so even though they have 40 000 on a home-match, the stadium will feel empty. Their fans certainly know how to create a good atmosphere though.

Where they will finish:
Marinos is not the same powerhouse they were a few years back, and realistically the most they can hope for is a mid-table finish this year. They got a very tight defence,and I think they will a hard team to score on. The lack of options up front might hurt them though, and I think they will finish somewhere around 10th.


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