In the past year Urawa Reds reached the AFC Champions League final; however, they struggled in the domestic league, fighting to avoid relegation for part of the season.
Despite their troubles, Reds did not hire much reinforcements for 2020, and the signing of Leonardo from Albirex Niigata was the most notable addition. The Brazilian striker could play an important role in Urawa’s attempt to return to glory.
Their squad is one of the best in the league, featuring top players in each position, such as Shinzo Koroki, Yosuke Kashiwagi, Tomoaki Makino and Shusaku Nishikawa. Manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki changed their formation from their classic 3-4-2-1 to 4-4-2 in order to transform the talented team into a more aggressive combo.
Reds have beaten Shonan Bellmare 3-2 in this season’s opening match. Although there was some concern over their defensive stability, their attack gave a positive impression with new signing Leonardo already opening his account in the Japanese top flight. More of their new brand of aggressive football is to be expected in the rest of the year.
Urawa’s undisputed goal machine went two-digit goals for the eight consecutive seasons. Koroki’s smart movements help him to receive the ball in favorable positions, and easily find the back of the net, thanks to his top-class finishing. Moreover, his strong physicality facilitates his work as a target man.
The Brazilian striker was crowned top scorer at Gainare Tottori in J3 two years ago, and at Albirex Niigata in J2 in the past season. His biggest asset are his accurate shots. The 22-year-old is developing quickly and seems ready to show his ability in J1.