How Urawa Reds made the J.League YBC Levain Cup final

How Urawa Reds made the J.League YBC Levain Cup final

Urawa Reds are one of Japan’s most successful clubs, with 20 major trophies to their name, including the most recent AFC Champions League, which has them as the reigning kings of Asia. And at the biggest clubs, eyes are always on the next trophy. For Urawa, that is the 2023 J.League YBC Levain Cup, which they will play for live on the J.League International YouTube channel.

The Reds find themselves in the final after an unusual run through the competition, beginning with the group stage.

Urawa went undefeated in their six group stage contests, but won just one match. They were draw machines, taking a point on each matchday except for Matchday 5. Those eight points left Urawa joint top of Group B with three other teams and they advanced out of the group on head-to-head points, barely escaping into the knockout stages.

From there, the outstanding Reds defense took over. They notched a shutout in the quarter-finals, cruising past Gamba Osaka 4-0 on aggregate as Bryan Linssen and Alex Schalk each scored two goals.

The semi-finals brought Urawa against a phenomenal Yokohama F·Marinos side. The Reds defended well against the terrific Tricolor attack, only conceding one goal in the first leg on an unfortunate penalty kick, but they did not find the back of the net themselves so they went to the second leg trailing.

Penalties ruled the day again in the second 90 minutes, but this time they went the way of Urawa as Alexander Scholz equalized the tie from the spot in the 63rd minute, then he scored another in stoppage time as the Reds stunned Marinos to book their spot in the final.

Now, the Reds are on the verge of their 21st major trophy. They have the defense, they survived a peculiar group stage and there’s plenty of veteran leadership who have experience in finals to lead the way. All they have to do now is beat Avispa Fukuoka at the Japan National Stadium and they will have another piece of silverware.