The final match of the 2021 Japanese professional season is upon us, and it pits Urawa Reds against Oita Trinita in the prestigious Emperor’s Cup final. The ultimate match of the year will not only see a team write their name into the history books as the winner of a trophy that dates back a century, but also book a spot in next season’s AFC Champions League and set a path to continental glory.
Urawa enter the final with a chance to make history. They have won the Emperor’s Cup seven times, tied with Yokohama F·Marinos for the most by a professional club. A win this weekend would make them the unquestioned kings of the competition.
If Urawa do lift the trophy at the National Stadium, it will be thanks to their defense. Since entering the tournament in the second round, they have yet to allow a goal. With that defense, Urawa have every reason to believe in their ability to win this match and they still have Kasper Junker leading the way up front.
Trinita don’t have near the pedigree of Urawa. In fact, this is the first time they have made it past the quarter-finals of the Emperor’s Cup. But not only did they make it further in the competition than ever before when they made the semi-finals, they then toppled MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE champions and Emperor’s Cup holders Kawasaki Frontale to book their spot in the final.
Now that Trinita have beaten Frontale, there is no reason to believe they can’t win the finale. They beat the best team in the country thanks to the heroics of Shun Takagi, who will be back in goal, and their defense withstood Frontale’s fearsome attack. Now, Trinita is the team with all the confidence.
Will Urawa make history? Or will Trinita’s Cinderella run take them to a trophy and the greatest day in club history? We’ll find out Sunday at the National Stadium in the Emperor’s Cup final.