2024 J.League season preview: Vissel Kobe aim for a repeat

2024 J.League season preview: Vissel Kobe aim for a repeat

Vissel Kobe are the kings of the J.League for the first time in the club's history, but the only thing more difficult than winning the title is repeating.

Every team will be taking aim at Vissel this season. Can they defend their place at the summit?

2023 review

Vissel spent 26 matchweeks on top of the league last season and held it for the final nine games. It was a truly dominant season that left no doubt who the top team in J1 was.

Kobe conquered the league with a very balanced squad that ranked second in goals scored and third in goals conceded. They were very good in all parts of the pitch with J.League Best Eleven selections in defense, midfield and forward, but they were led most prominently by J1 Most Valuable Player and joint Top Scorer Yuya Osako.

With Osako and Yoshinori Muto, the only player in J1 to hit double digits in both goals and assists, Vissel had a dynamic duo in front of a squad capable in every phase; it's little wonder why they were able to find so much success and ultimately claim the title.

Key loss

Leo Osaki - Vissel made sure to keep the core of their title-winning team intact with nobody playing a key role departing the club in the winter.

Kobe did lose Osaki, though, who featured in 21 league matches and helped close out some tight games in the heart of defense.

Key addition

Yosuke Ideguchi - Vissel's impressive midfield from last season arguably gets better with the addition of the versatile Ideguchi.

After making a name for himself with Gamba Osaka, Ideguchi went on to have stints abroad in England, Germany, Spain, and Scotland before joining Avispa Fukuoka last year and winning the 2023 J.League YBC Levain Cup.

With the defending champions in need of depth for an increased fixture load, the do-everything midfielder is a perfect fit.

Goal for 2024

Reign supreme once more.

After reaching unprecedented heights in 2023, Kobe have responded by keeping their team intact and adding talent around the edges.

Ideguchi isn't the only impressive addition, though. Right back Rikuto Hirose has joined from Kashima Antlers and the electrifying Taisei Miyashiro could be crucial in providing Osako and Muto some help up front.

Vissel don’t just have a J1 title defense in front of them, but also the AFC Champions League Elite group stage awaiting them in the fall and two domestic cups.

Life at the top is difficult and the club has spent the winter preparing themselves to take on all comers. Let's see how they get on.