Kawasaki Frontale Season Preview: Can these J.League giants bring another title home?

Kawasaki Frontale Season Preview: Can these J.League giants bring another title home?

To call Kawasaki Frontale a dynasty would be selling them short. They aren’t another club in the midst of an amazing run of trophies. They aren’t just the premier club of their era. Frontale are in the midst of the most dominant run in the history of the J.League.

Frontale have won four of the last five titles, setting points records and then breaking their own records. They’ve won four other trophies and put on impressive showings in the AFC Champions League despite going out of the competition early.

They are truly giants of the J.League, but will they add to their CV in 2022?

Last season

2021 saw Frontale win yet another Meiji Yasuda J1 League title and nearly lead the pack the entire way.

Frontale slipped from the top spot in the table in Matchweek 5. By Matchweek 7, they were back in first place and never looked back. They had the best defense in the league and their attack finished one goal behind Yokohama F·Marinos for first, an astonishing 20 goals ahead of third place.

Leandro Damião was joint Top Scorer and their 92 points set a new J.League record. Simply put, Frontale were magnificent.

Key additions

Chanathip Songkrasin has been brought in from Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo to add dynamism in the attacking band, while Tatsuki Seko did a terrific job in the middle of the park for Yokohama FC and will now get his chance with the champions.

Key departures

Reo Hatate jumped to Celtic FC in Scotland in a blow to Frontale, but they have otherwise kept their team more or less together. Adjusting to the losses of Ao Tanaka and Kaoru Mitoma has proven to take some time, but Toru Oniki will get to have another run with the squad that did so well to end the campaign in 2021.

Goal for 2022

Frontale will obviously be taking aim at a mind-boggling five league titles in six years and another domestic cup would be welcome, but a big target will be the AFC Champions League.

They are good enough to make a major statement in the continental championship, and after a disappointing shootout loss last season in the last 16, they will look to make a deep run.

Nevertheless, the first target for Oniki and his men, as it always has been, will be achieving league dominance yet again for the entire season.

What to watch for

Frontale play beautiful football and score so much that the focus is often on the front line. Leandro Damião will be a Top Scorer favorite yet again and the league’s best goals of the season will surely be littered with Frontale tallies, but keep an eye on the back line.

No team in the league surrendered fewer goals than Frontale last season. They were impenetrable, shutting down even the most fearsome of attacks. Shogo Taniguchi and Miki Yamane play a massive role in that excellence, but they have more to play for than just Frontale glory this season.

Not only will Taniguchi and Yamane be hoping to add to Frontale’s overflowing trophy cabinet in 2022, but they have their sights set on FIFA World Cup glory. Both have been regulars for Japan in qualifying and, assuming they can help the Samurai Blue book their ticket to Qatar, will have the chance to shine at the tournament at the end of the year. It could be a massive year for the duo, who are as good at center back and right back, respectively, as you will find in the league.