Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday far, so good !

I am VERY excited about the Summer, best consecutive months for GOWI in each of
the last three years have been June/July and after this evening, our three main summer league in J-League/ MLS and
Campeonato Brasileiro Série A will all be up and running. Long term readers will know how well we have done with these and we were two from two on J-League this morning (see below) with Omiya Ardija winning 3-0 and Yokohama F.Marinos 1-0.  I have put up Omiya three times this season, they have won each time, opposed Marinos twice and backed them today, again getting all three correct. You can switch off, take things easy for next season, clubgowi will be looking to build our bankroll through the next couple of months and also try to pick out some early summer gems like this.
Previews below were sent to clubgowi subscribers at 14.55 UK time Friday, 16 hours before kick off.
Ventforet Kofu- Omiya Ardija

We have spoken a couple of times about both of these teams already this season, Ventforet did us a favour against Jubilo Iwata, but disappointed against Shimizu S-Pulse and have since lost heavily at Hiroshima, conceding seven goals across the two matches. They are short of options with a number of players carrying knocks and Brazilian striker Hugo ( 12-5-0) suddenly looks out of sorts and the jury is still out on whether he and Paraguayan forward Jose Ortigoza, who has finally forced his way into the starting line up, can play together, they may need time. 

Omiya served us very well over the holiday weekend fixtures at the begining of the month ...

Omiya did us a big favour on Friday with a very comfortable 2-0 win at Oita Trinita, ahead of which I wrote ... 

At the start of this season, I produced a league table, showing points won not only last season, but in the second half of the campaign and also over the last ten starts. One of the stand out teams was Omiya Ardija, who had collected 20 of their 44 points over the last ten matches, a total only equalled by champions Sanfreece Hiroshima. They have continued in the same vein and after eight rounds are 6-2-0 and top of the table, they have not lost since August 25th, that's 19 starts and an 11-8-0 record, which equates to over 73 points over 34 games and would have seen them win last season's J-League by 9 points plus. So, they have to be seen as worthy leaders.

A 4-0 win at Kashiwa Reysol last week took Omiya top and they will be looking to consolidate their position against newly promoted Oita, who are bottom of the table and 0-3-5, they came up through the playoffs and were the lowest ranked team heading in, collecting 15 points less than the champions. Allowing for changes in the league structure, 3 of the last 4 teams to be promoted with such a low total have been immediately relegated. They might feel hard done by not to have broken their duck in a 0-0 draw with Cerezo Osaka last week, after hitting the woodwork twice through Yasuhito Morishima and Takuya Marutani, but they were largely outplayed and looked especially vunerable on the right flank, something which has been a problem previously. They remain without Yuri Kimura in midfield, he had 9 assists last season and they do not have a like for like replacement.

The visitors could hardly be in better or more confident shape, strikers Zlatan Ljubijankic and Milivoje Novakovic whom we discussed a few weeks back, are in perfect sync with six goals between them and are being kept hungry by Hasegawa and Tomiyama two young strikers eager for a look in, so huge competition up front and no injury problems for Omiya.

They are already used to playing on Friday, with the Reysol match played 24 hours before the other fixtures last week and that extra 24 hours will also serve them well with a home match against the defending champions on Monday. I see a huge incentive for Omiya to go into that game and return home as league leaders and even the tough looking handicap is not a concern , given how freely they are scoring. Left winger Cho Young-Cheol started last season on fire and already has two goals and three assists this campaign, he should be looking forward to this, especially if he saw how much joy Yoichiro Kakitani had last week.

That is now 20 matches unbeaten and they continue to be underestimated by the oddsmakers IMO, they have no injury problems and will not lack in motivation against an admittedly better rested opponent. Sanfreece sat out many starters in midweek (AFC CL) and have had an extra couple of days to prepare solely for this and are themselves unbeaten in six in all competitions. Which includes road draws at Nagoya Grampus, Bunyodkor and Pohang Steelers, all commendable results, defensively they look solid, but this is no longer an easy place to come and I feel the most they can hope for is a draw. There is a good chance of a stalemate, Omiya will retain their lead and Sanfreece will not fall any further off the pace with that result, but with the level ball safeguard, I can only lean one way. Omiya have only conceded nine goals in those 20 starts, it is hard to beat a team you cannot score against and they are not top by chance and were as good as anybody in the top flight over the last quarter of 2012 and not just the first of this

Since winning those two matches, they lost their long unbeaten record (21 matches) in a 2-1 defeat at Vegalta Sendai, the hosts were deserved winners were 2-0 up at the break and coasting, missing good chances to increase their lead to three, before Omiya found a goal from somewhere and almost an equaliser, missing a couple of chances themselves. That would have been unfair on Sendai, but it is a sign of how tough the league leaders now are to beat. They bounced back immediately with a win over Shonan Bellmare last week and whist they did not defeat much, it was a hugely important win for Omiya. It increased their lead at the top to five points and they will be eager to hold on to that ahead of the mid season break. It is been important that their pair of Slovenian strikers ( see above) have continued to contribute, with 10 goals and five assists between them and with no reported problems , both should start. The clubs have already met in the League Cup with Kofu winning 3-1, that meant little in a competition Omiya have shown scant regard for and they only fielded two regular outfield players in that game. The loss at Sendai aside, Omiya have been incredible on the road, winning eight of the other ten (two draws) and keeping seven clean sheets. Given that the hosts suddenly look vunerable defensively and with the visitors so difficult to score against, I can only lean one way. 1.5 units Omiya Ardija -0.25 ball 1.99 asian line/Ibramarket.Sagan Tosu- Yokohama F.Marinos

Hosts had a fine 5th place finish in J-League last year, only missing an AFC Champions league spot by two points, a terrific effort following promotion a year earlier. That is now a distant memory and in the always difficult second season, they sit just one point above the drop zone, having conceded an eye popping 30 goals, it is difficult to win when you are allowing 2.5 per game and the three they conceded at home to basement club Oita Trinita in the cup in midweek, will not have helped their confidence one little bit. There have been a few odd decisions, like taking off a striker who had just scored ( when you are losing) and replacing him with a left back (!) at Urawa last week where they eventually lost 6-2 and i am not sure they know which way to turn at present. I was not entirely complimentary about Dad's Army/ Marinos a few weeks back and we succesfully opposed them twice ....

A fortnight ago I opposed then leaders Marinos, who were 6-0-0 at the time, with a Albirex team I had been happy to take on a week earlier, writing ....

It is not often I take such a firm stance in opposing a team one week and them back then the very next, but I am fairly keen on Albirex getting the handicap start this week. They have not suddenly improved, as this has more to do with the league leading visitors. Not that they have done too much wrong, infact, they have a 100% record so far this season, but two things about that, they are the first team since 2004 to win their first six starts and that puts them under a lot of pressure, also, last week, at home to Frontale, they looked really vunerable for the first time, needing a 90th minute winner to claim the points. Four very key players in this team are not just the wrong side of 30, but at least mid and in two cases late 30's. No injuries has meant little rotation in these areas and whilst that has been good so far, I feel it might come at a cost somewhere down the line (today ?). The backline is largely unchanged through six games and with an average age of almost 33, might start to be increasingly vunerable, on the one occasion they did look to switch things around resting one, they conceded twice and brought him off the bench late in the game.

They lost that 1-0 and drew at home to Ventforet last week, with still no changes to that back four and key striker 37 yo Marquinhos Araujo (7-6-1) who is very much the focus of their attack, is not 100% to start this week. However, of equal/maybe even a bigger concern to me was that after being in control YFM looked to run out of steam and hand the initiative to Kofu and if not the age, the age combined with the lack of rotation, would be a worry for me if I was a Marinos supporter.

Kashima have lost just once in 12 league starts and that came to Omiya ( who's form lines could hardly be better), they have not lost in three ( only once in seven) visits to Yokohama and I do not see that changing this evening.

They have since regrouped and taken four points from their last two league starts and also shoehorned in a pair of confidence boosting cup wins. Their old limbs can rest up after this week over the mid season break and they will not want the Omiya advanatge at the top of the table to increase any further. Marinos had the meanest defence in J-League last season and have only averaged a goal per game conceded over the last 15 months. Meeting an opponent so low on confidence and one who simply cannot keep a cleansheet should be perfect for them. By the way, they have been mixing up that aged backline a bit recently and gave left back Dutra, who will be 40 in August, the night off in midweek. 1.25 units Yokohama F.Marinos -0.5 ball 2.16 asian line/Ibramarket.
Good Luck.

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