Well........Verdy got pasted 4-1.
The game report is here
Usually I would knock the efforts and abilities of Verdy in general and Ramos in particular but today I think it would be more genuine to salute the great play of Kashiwa. That passing yesterday was a clinic in how to play the beautiful game. There wasn't one instance where I could say definetely "Verdy blew it" or " (Probably Hagimura) made a stupid move". It was a clinical beating by a team that really wants to be and deserves to be Top Flight.
What will J2 look like next year?
If everything holds form........it looks like Cerezo Osaka and either Kyoto or Avispa will be a new member of J2. But things could change........let's take a look
1. Avispa Fukuoka (19 points 17th place)- With only 3 wins in 27 contests, Avispa seems to lack the depth and talent needed to compete in the big leagues. 26 goals in 27 games actually puts them under 1 goal per game. they tried to address this problem by adding Kazunori Iio.....think about that for a minute.....in fairness he has notched 3 goals since the move.
2. Cerezo Osaka (19 points 18th place) Bottom of the table for the lions share of the season, Cerezo Osaka has just been putrid. Takuya Yamada was supposed to be the big signing to push a squad who was one minute away from a title but he has not been an exotic terminator.....he has been rubbish.
3. Kyoto Purple Sanga (20 points 16th place) Defense like a sieve and a breakdown of their two foreign imports. Hashiratani's brother really made a hash of a team that was unstoppable in last years second division. The defense has been particularly atrocious, letting up 62 goals (2.3 GAA)
Paulinho has been the lone bright spot in a dismal season, could he be the next Washington?
4. Omiya Ardija (31 points 13th place) After the exodus of Gral, Saitama's real team has flatlined. Daigo Kobayashi has been brilliant for a large part of the season and former Verdy/Kobe/Kashiwa defender Yukio Tsuchiya has been solid but other pickups like Yoshiyuki Kobayashi and Kota Yoshihara have been disappointments. The inability to create any sort of attack has really vexed the squad and they are now in an 8 game tailspin which has seen them earn 2 points with ties to Kyoto and Avispa. In a normal year, they would be odds on favorites for relegation but the bottom three have shown little signs of fighting their way up.
5. FC Tokyo (30 points 14th place) The gasmen have been downright erratic. today's 5-2 loss to Sanfrecce sums up their season in a nutshell.......jump out to an early lead and then collapse. Like Omiya, they have been in a prolonged slump losing 6 of the last 7 games (including losses to Kyoto and Cerezo). Tokyo derby yet again?
6. Sanfrecce Hiroshima (30 points 15th place) Probably the least likeliest to fall after their turnaround in form. Absolutely horrid early but really capable of knocking anyone off. 2 national teamers and a good keeper should have these guys up higher in the standings.
Tokyo by far has the worst schedule with games against Gamba, Jubilo, Kawasaki, Urawa, and Oita in big eye on the last day
Sanfrecce has arguably the easiest with matchups against the bottom three.
If I had to guess, I'd say Avispa and Kyoto will be the two to drop outright and Cerezo will find a way to either get to the playoff or pass FC Tokyo or Omiya and get to the 15th spot. I say this because Cerezo historically manages to avoid the drop.
But I wouldn't be surprised if something different happened.........7 games to see.