Feature match 1
Vvaren nagasaki vs Urawa reds
Vvaren nagasaki, the new boys on the j1 block come up against urawa reds, the perpetual giants of Asian and Japanese football. All the signs point to a urawa victory, even considering for the away factor, at 1.55. However, i would like to point out that the favourites have been in a 2 game league slump, discounting the fact that they won the recent cup game against nagoya grampus 4-1. The two teams that they faced hiroshima and Tokyo FC do not have the best squads and have been tipped for mid table mediocrity. However, the lack of ability from the reds to beat either of those 2 teams is indicative of their ability to compete in the j league this season. This is all on top of the fact that they played some of the regular starters in midweek against nagoya grampus, which means that the mentioned players like shinzo koroki and will be tired for the game against nagasaki. The 2 games have shown an appaling lack of fight one of the traditional powerhouses of Japanese football and this does not bode well for the game ahead.
Vvaren nagasaki on the other hand have came off 2 heart breakers in their first two games where they held their own for most of the match. The first game against newly promoted (as well), shonan bellmare was done in by a unlucky bounce from a free kick. Most of that game nagasaki held their own and was actually good for a draw and a point in a very tough stadium to play at. The 2nd game, their first home game, they took a 2 goal lead into the half time break against sagan tosu but couldn’t see the game out and got pegged back 2-2. The 2 goals were very soft goals and did not reflect the true nature of the game. Nagasaki played in front of a sell out crowd of 19 thousand in their first home game and this upcoming one will not be any different. Vvaren nagasaki rested most of their players against vissel Kobe in midweek and will have the benefit of a full week of rest. Nagasaki in their promotion push to j1 from j2 have shown stellar home form but have been prone to letting in goals. This has resulted in many 2-1 victories at home.
Home form coupled with the couple extra days of rest has me doubting the odds provided for a nagasaki win. On paper, urawa reds have a better team but the desire of a first home win for the ever adoring nagasaki faithful might just push the nagasaki team into a result. Thus I’ll be back backing nagasaki double chance at 2.05. Those abit more adventurous can try the vvaren Nagasaki ML at 5. At bitcoinrush you can get Nagasaki ML +450 / 5.5 or Nagasaki +0.75 2.01
Feature match 2
Kashiwa Reysol vs Cerezo Osaka
Cerezo Osaka seems to be in early season slump after their star midfielder, Kiyotake has been injured. The have only gotten one win their entire season, in the Asian Champions League(ACL), with a last gasp winner against Jeju United. This does not bode well for the team and how their progress this season. Many J league experts have tipped Cerezo Osaka to replicate their form of last season and finish top 4 this season. Their main lineup has seen only 2 matches of play as Manager of the Season Yang Joon Hwan aims to balance domestic and continental title challenges. This has proven to not work as evident by the results. However, in the long run, this tinkering will do Cerezo good due to their tight and congested schedule. Last season, the biggest bugbear for Cerezo was the limited squad that they have and how they ran out of gas towards the end of the season, effectively extinguishing their faint title hopes. The ability of the coach to find a balance for the squad needs is imperative in Cerezo Osaka’s season. When the full squad played the 2 games this season, they have shown an ability to score goals but the defense is sorely lacking, especially in the aerial department. Cerezo in their last league game gifted Consodale Sapporo 3 goals from set pieces and this is one the issues that needs to be looked at going forward.
Kashiwa Reysol had a largely successful season too last year, getting into the top 4 and obtained an ACL spot like Cerezo Osaka. Reysol plays a very compact style of football that is reminiscent of the Leciester City winning title run. This is due to a top 5 defence in the league with well drilled back 4 that keeps it shape really well with the rock in defence Kamata and Nakayama. Reysol like cerezo has had a really rocky start to the season. The first ACL game was a dream turned into a nightmare as they were leading 0-2 away from home at half time but lost 3-2 at full time to a talented Jeonbuk side. The entire defence collapsed toward the end of the game and gifted Jeonbuk the winner late into the 2nd half, and this makes me question their mental toughness. The last league game, they gave us a semblance of the well drilled side as they won against a talented Yokohama F. Marinos team 2-0 at home. One of Reysol’s weakness is their inability to find the back of the net a measly 1.44 times each game, the 2nd least amongst the teams at the top half of the table.
Cerezo Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol will be looking to prove doubters and critics wrong in this marquee matchup and hope to right the ship. With both first team players expected for this matchup, expect a exciting affair that will be close. Cerezo however has too much star quality in their lineup and the odds for them to win a 3.2 is really decent. Many of punters and analysts have picked Osaka to end the season as the champions and we will see a regression to the mean after the 2 disappointing draws in the first 2 rounds.
Prediction: Kashiwa Reysol 1 -3 Cerezo Osaka – Cerezo Osaka ML +220 / 3.2
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