Three teams remain perfect
It’s only been two weeks, but the list of perfect Meiji Yasuda J1 League teams is already down to just three - Vissel Kobe, Yokohama F·Marinos and Nagoya Grampus.
Vissel and Marinos’ success has been built on good, balanced play. They’ve each scored four goals and allowed just one so far, kicking off the season in nearly ideal fashion. They will have their enthusiastic fans backing them this weekend when they try to keep their perfect starts going, too, with the Tricolor hosting Sanfrecce Hiroshima and the Ushi welcoming Gamba Osaka to Kobe.
Nagoya’s road to six points from two games has not been as balanced, having scored only two goals, but they are the only team in the league yet to concede this season as their traditionally excellent defense continues to live up to its reputation. Mitchell Langerak and Co. will put that mark on the line when they visit Sagan Tosu this weekend.
Urawa, Cerezo looking for jumpstart
Urawa Reds and Cerezo Osaka are two teams who had big dreams entering the year. Their 2022 seasons gave them plenty of reason to believe the club was on the right track and winter additions only furthered their optimism, but they have not gotten off to the starts they imagined.
The Reds are still without a point, having lost a pair of 2-0 matches. Their defense hasn’t been as sturdy as they wanted, while the zero goals scored speaks for the attack’s play so far.
The Sakura haven’t had much of an issue with their attack, scoring three goals and regularly creating opportunities going forward, but they’ve conceded four and have just one point thus far.
Urawa haven’t played a home game yet this season, but that will change on Saturday when they welcome Cerezo to Urawa Komaba Stadium. The fans have been waiting to see their team in Saitama and they’ll be hoping to push the Reds on to victory, but the Sakura are dangerous. Most of all, both teams are hungry for their first win of the season and want the points to kickstart their ambitious 2023 campaigns.
A pair of young stars in Yokohama
Makoto Mitsuta is one of the Meiji Yasuda J.League’s brightest young stars and the centerpiece of Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s new generation. The Viola are off to a slow start this season, but have a chance to make a big impression with a win over Yokohama F·Marinos this season and, if they do, it will almost certainly be with Mitsuta having a great game.
Marinos bring their own burgeoning young star to the contest in Joel Chima Fujita. The midfielder was a regular contributor for a Tricolor side that won the league last season at just 20 years old and has featured off the bench in each of their first two matches of this season. For a player of his age to force his way into the team for such a great team speaks to his quality.
When Marinos and Sanfrecce square off on Friday Night J.League, there will starlets on both sides.