Three things to watch: Matchweek 4

Three things to watch: Matchweek 4

Frontale’s attack or Nagoya’s defense?

Kawasaki Frontale’s unparalleled success has been the result of an outstanding attack and defense, but it’s up front where they have really been unrivaled. Leandro Damião is the ever-dangerous striker in front, but whether it’s a threat from the wing, surging midfielders, Miki Yamane playing from the back or their marvelous ability to create in half-spaces, they have been a nearly-impossible attack for opposing teams to slow down.

Meanwhile, Nagoya Grampus have been the defensive class of the league. Anchored by Mitchell Langerak in goal, they have been terrific at keeping teams out of dangerous areas and have been among the league’s top clubs for several seasons because of that excellence at the back. A managerial change in the offseason threatened to derail that, but Kenta Hasegawa has retained the strong defense early on, conceding just one goal so far this season.

This weekend, Nagoya travel to Kawasaki. It is a test of the Grampus defense and the Frontale attack. Which will prevail?

High-flying Yuto Suzuki

Júbilo Iwata are back in the top flight and they got their first win of the season last weekend in Kyoto. Yuto Suzuki led the way for Júbilo, scoring two goals in the 4-1 win and bringing his total on the season to three goals. He’s doing this despite not being a forward, with Júbilo deploying him as a wingback, but his runs into the box from deep have terrorized defenses and he’s been instrumental to his team’s ball progression too. Júbilo host Gamba Osaka this weekend and, with the newly promoted side up to fifth place, they - and Suzuki - are absolutely worth keeping an eye on.

Shonan trying to find their footing

It is still very early in the season so there is no reason for anybody to panic yet, but after this weekend we will be 12% of the way through the campaign. That’s not an insignificant amount and teams will need to start racking up points to meet their goals for 2022. In Shonan Bellmare’s case, the need for picking up some points is getting bigger by the matchweek.

Shonan have just one point so far, courtesy of a come-from-behind draw in Matchweek 2. They haven’t led a match yet and their attack and defense have both left something to be desired in the early going. Shonan will welcome newly promoted Kyoto Sanga to Hiratsuka on Saturday and it would be a big boost for them to earn a win that moves them out of last place. It’s not a must-win yet, but they sure would like to start their climb out of the basement sooner rather than later.