My plans for Saturday are still a little undecided, but the first email will be ready at 09.30 (UK
time) and I will confirm follow up times then.
J-League Saturday August 3rd
Kashiwa Reysol- Sagan Tosu
Shonan Bellmare- Yokohama F. Marinos
Two of these teams met in midweek, with Reysol scoring a late equaliser to earn a share of the points in Yokohama, we previewed that match and a lot of the content is pertinent, so I have reproduced it in full, at the foot of the email. Both teams missed good chances in that game, but Kashiwa will be the more pleased with the result and will be looking to follow up with all three points today. They have three very win-able fixtures in a row now and a chance to close in on the top three ahead of their AFC Champions League double header with Al-Shabab and provide a safety net, in terms of next year's competition, should that not go well.
Reysol rarely do things the easy way, they have not kept a clean sheet at home this season and Sagan's backline has conceded in every away game and 15 times in their last five in all competitions, but also scored in 8 of 9 road starts, so this clearly promises goals. However, when the dust has settled, I think the most likely outcome is a home win and feel that offers slightly better value than the "over" 3.5 goal line. Playmaker Leandro Domingues Barbosa (14-5-2 all comps) returned to action in midweek after 11 weeks out, he played 73 minutes, will come on for that and provided there is no reaction, will surely take part today. I was both complimentary and a little cynical about him in the preview(s) below, but his hard work has been missed and they play at a better tempo when he is in the team. Home win.
Shonan recorded a shock come from behind win at Kawasaki Frontale in midweek, the hosts are tough to beat once they get their noses in front ( previously 7-0 when leading at the break). I watched the second half and feel that Frontale sat off too much and allowed Bellmare back into the game, but they took their chances and looked very dangerous on the break. On loan Brazilian keeper Alex Santana made his debut after his paperwork was finally completed and was in outstanding form, he saved a penalty and inspired the entire team, who he spent the entire second half shouting at, I have no idea if they understood him, but he is not built like the kind of guy you would ignore. The team fed off his performance and also their travelling support, which despite their lowly position, arrived in great and noisy numbers.They had a 5-0 win over Malaysia in a friendly a few days before that, which means nothing, but I feel it gave them a little confidence, defensively they are much improved from early season, conceding 11 goals in their first six, 13 from their next half dozen starts and just 7 from their last six and Santana looks a very good signing. I still have my concerns about Yokohama (see below) especially with such a quick turnaround. The two teams have met here already, Marinos winning 1-0 in the League Cup, but the hosts rested a handful of players for that and look more suited to J-League competition now. Win or lose, I like the quote .
1.25 units Kashiwa Reysol -0.75 ball 2.11 asian line/Ibramarket.
1.5 units Shonan Bellmare +0.75 ball 2.11 asian line/Ibramarket.
Urawa Red Diamonds- Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Urawa will be buoyed by their come from behind win at Jubilo Iwata in midweek, where they trailed with seven minutes left to play ( ouch !). Ahead of that I wrote that "it (the break) has not enabled Urawa to get injured defensive midfielder Keita Suzuki ready in time, they have lost both matches he has missed this season ( conceding seven goals in the process) and conceded immediately after he left the field injured in the previous match."
To get the win without him and from that position, against a team unbeaten in five was huge and they must have travelled home in high spirits. The visitors are unbeaten in nine and lead J-League by three points, but Urawa won in Hiroshima on opening day and are 8-1-1 in the last ten h2h meetings in Saitama, so will not fear Sanfrecce. Home boss Mihailo Petrovic
was in charge of the visitors for five and a half years and implemented and knows better than anyone, the system/style of football they play, he will have taken a lot of pride from their title win last year, but will not want to sit back and watch another, Urawa can close to within two of the leaders with a win. Hiroshima arrive on the back of a 3-1 win over Omiya Ardija, but that was flattering IMO, Omiya missed a lot of chances before equalising in the 74th minute and were clearly in the ascendancy then, when the match turned in 60 seconds with a free kick and red card.1.25 units Urawa Reds -0.25 ball 2.11 asian line/Ibramarket.
Yokohama F.Marinos- Kashiwa Reysol (written July 31st)
We spoke about Reysol, who let us down badly in a 2-2 home draw with Shimizu just before the two week break.....
I have discussed the hosts quite a lot this season, especially around their Champions League campiagn, last time was ahead of the Confederations Cup break when I wrote ...
Kashiwa Reysol once again paid the price for giving too much in an AFC Champions League match they did not need to win last midweek and have not really mastered the art of holding a little something back for domestic fixtures and as good as they have looked in the international competition, they have been equally woeful in J-League at times. They have conceded 20 goals in their last 8 starts ( three or more in five of those), including nine in their last three halves of football. Sandwiched inbetween were three wins, but they came against Sagan Tosu and Jubilo Iwata teams hopelessly out of form and the third was against a Yokohama F.Marinos side who were in that "dip" in form we have discussed several times recently.
Reysol are a good team and were expected to challenge for a top 3 place at least, but now they are already well off the pace and a point is not going to help them very much, they need to gamble for the win and the problem at present, is that when they do, the floodgates are more likely to open, especially against the stronger J-League teams. Their six losses have come against teams with an average league placing of 6.67 and all were by at least a two goal margin.
Reysol look set to be without Leandro Domingues Barbosa (13-5-2 all comps), he did not play at the weekend and they miss his technique and industry. They do still have top scorer Masato Kudo (20-12-3) and Cleo ( 18-6-2) as an offensive threat, but the ongoing loss of both starting full backs in Wataru Hashimoto( not played this year, but 38 starts in 2012), Masato Fujita (11-0-4) is a concern for me and there is a danger that 23 yo Kudo might be distracted by his first ever international call up this week, for Japan's World Cup qualifier with Australia. He will not want to miss out and the young striker has already openly stated that his priority for the year is the CL.
This is traditionally a high scoring match up and four of the last six league meeting have produced at least four goals, it is easy to see this following suit, however, I have just heard that right back Chang-Soo Kim (14-0-1) is also out for the visitors, missing Fujita and two offensive players on that side, they are very short of options on that flank. I expect Reysol to regroup over the break and come back committed to the J-League campaign, at least until the CL restart.
They have won their last two and showed plenty of spirit to beat Kashima Antlers at the weekend, albeit with a large slice of good fortune. Striker Cleo (14-7-1 in J-League) scored both and looks refreshed by the break and he, Masato Kudo (16-9-2) and Junya Tanaka ( 14-3-8) are a potent offensive trio.
Playmaker Leandro Domingues Barbosa should miss out again, but he has only played two league games since early April and they lost both by a combined 7-1 scoreline, so maybe that is a good thing ! A bigger loss is suspended centre back Naoya Kondo (16-2-1).
Domingues is still injured, but Kondo is back from suspension and with both SSP goals coming from crosses that is a relief.
Hosts have been in great form, beating Omiya Ardija and Urawa before the break and Manchester United 3-2 in a friendly last week, but and there is always a but ( or an however), they have not kept a cleansheet in six starts and have had to come from behind in five of those. That augurs well for team spirit and their battling qualities, but they have also ridden their luck at times. Also the "age" of some of the home players continues to worry me, this is something we touched upon earlier in the season when I wrote ...Not that they ( Marinos) 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.
Even with the break it has been a tough schedule and despite the famous victory, I feel that Dutra 39 yo, Nakamura 35 yo and Marquinhos 37 yo might have been better off sitting that one out in steamy, very sticky conditions. Apparently Shunsuke Nakamura ( 17-4-5), who has only missed four minutes of league action this season, or a start at all in ten months picked up a knock and is doubtful, they have won just one in 9 when the former Celtic star doesn't play at least 45 minutes.
Reysol should be better rested, losing just once in eight visits and scoring seven goals in the last three. I have to take them with the draw on our side 1.25 units Kashiwa Reysol +0.5 ball 1.93 asian line/Ibramarket.