Player in Focus: Diego Oliveira could play pivotal role in relegation battle

Player in Focus: Diego Oliveira could play pivotal role in relegation battle

F.C.Tokyo have been solidly mid-table all season, putting together a fine campaign, but one that doesn’t often get the spotlight. That includes Diego Oliveira, who is quietly putting together another terrific season with 13 goals and four assists as he continues to prove himself to be one of the top players in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE.

Bagging goals for Tokyo is hardly new for Diego Oliveira. He scored nine last season, 14 the year before that, and 13 goals in 2018. Simply, he is one of the most reliable goal scorers in the entire league, and has been for years.

That got more attention when there were more headlines in Tokyo, like in 2019 when the capital club finished second place or last season when they won the J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP, but whatever level of success they are having, you can bet Diego Oliveira is leading them to it.

This season, it’s been Oliveira’s all-around game that has really shone brightly. More involved in the build up, the forward is showcasing his hold-up play, distribution, and final ball alongside the ever-present finishing, racking up four assists.

The Brazilian’s 13 goals makes him tied for fourth in the league (third among active J1 players) and the final weeks could see him make up some of the gap to Daizen Maeda and fellow countryman Leandro Damião.

Despite Oliveira’s consistency, though, his team has been anything but in recent machweeks. The month of November began with a 4-0 win against Shimizu S-Pulse but only a few days later it was an 8-0 loss to Yokohama F·Marinos.

This weekend it’s a visit from Tokushima Vortis, who are embroiled in a relegation battle and need a victory. While there’s little to play for in Tokyo, who will finish mid-table regardless of this stretch run, they will be looking to rebound from an embarrassing loss to their Kanagawa neighbors.

It won’t be an easy challenge for Vortis to overpower the capital club at home — and if they plan to come away from the Ajinomoto Stadium with all three points, they’ll need to keep the creative and consistent Oliveira quiet up front.