J.League Match of the Week: Verdy make long-awaited top flight return against Yokohama F·Marinos

J.League Match of the Week: Verdy make long-awaited top flight return against Yokohama F·Marinos

Tokyo Verdy are one of the Meiji Yasuda J.League’s most historic clubs. They won the first two titles and have featured some of the most famous players in league history, like Kazuyoshi Miura, but things took a turn and they spent the last 15 years mired in the second division.

Now, Verdy are back in the top flight — and you can follow their return live on JLeague.co on Sunday at 14:00 JST.

The green side of Tokyo make their re-entry to J1 on the stage such an occasion deserves, too, as they will take on Yokohama F·Marinos in the Kokuritsu Game at the Japan National Stadium.

Marinos are, like Verdy, a historical giant. Unlike Verdy, they haven’t fallen off in recent years; the Tricolor won the J1 title just two years ago and are coming off a second-place finish, continuing their standard as one of Japan’s top clubs.

There is a big change in Yokohama for 2024, though. Kevin Muscat, who guided the Tricolor to that 2022 title, has departed the club and Harry Kewell is in as the new boss.

Kewell had a magnificent playing career both for Australia and at some of Europe’s top clubs, but this is his first stint as the manager at a top-flight club. How quickly Kewell settles in at Nissan Stadium will be crucial because the Tricolor have every intention of competing not just for the J1 crown, but also in the cups.

Kewell and Marinos are not coming into this season cold, having already faced off against Bangkok United in the AFC Champions League Round of 16 over the past week. The deadly attack, led by Anderson Lopes, Élber and Yan Matheus, was as good as ever, providing Marinos the firepower that can carry them through any early season rough edges.

Verdy could be well-suited to counter Marinos’ spectacular attack, though. They were the best defensive team in J2 last season and with that type of solidity at the back, they have the foundation to compete with the best of the first division.

The question is whether they have the front line to challenge opposing defenses, but they brought Fuki Yamada over from Kyoto Sanga for an experienced hand, while the 22-year-old Itsuki Someno is a budding star. There is potential in this Verdy team and what better way to make their mark back in J1 than by taking down mighty Marinos at the Japan National Stadium?

It all gets underway on Sunday at 14:00 JST in the heart of Tokyo. Verdy are back, Marinos are dreaming big, and you’re going to want to be watching live on JLeague.co.