Cerezo are finally back in J1, after having spent the last 2 seasons in J2. They’ve managed to keep pretty much all their players since last year, with only a couple of back-up players having left the club. They also got a new manager in Yoon Jung Hwan, who very successfully were in charge of Sagan Tosu a few years back.
The biggest scoop however is the signing of Hiroshi Kiyotake from Sevilla FC. Definitely still good enough to play in one of Europe’s biggest leagues, he’s returned to Japan for private reasons. That should give them a whole new dimension, and together with Kakitani and Yamaguchi, who also have spells in Europe behind them, Cerezo actually got some of the most talented players in the league.
Not sure how the rest of the team measures up though, and their defence in particular still looks a bit weak. New face Jonjic should be a good addition, but as with any foreign player it remains to be seen how he copes with a whole new league, language issues and team-mates etc. Up front they will most likely have to rely on Kakitani for goals, but he’s not the typical no.9 striker and he missed a lot of last season to injuries. Besides him we will most likely find Kenyu Sugimoto, who have never been a good finisher. He managed 14 goals in 41 matches in J2 last season, but he lacks a real killer instinct in front of goal. He contributes in other ways though, so he’s still a useful player but would be surprised if he manages to tip the 10-goal mark.
Cerezo definitely looks good enough to avoid relegation this year, and with a bit of luck they could challenge for a top 10 finish or even higher. They got a smart coach who have gotten a lot out of little before, and several potential match-winners in their team too.
4th place (J2)
Predicted Finish: 1st – 2nd ( J2)
Average Goals Per Game 2016:
Home: 2,83 (1,43 – 1,39)
Away: 2,19 (1,48 – 0,71)
Overall: 2,51 (1,46 – 1,05)
Yoon Jung Hwan (1st season)
DF M.Jonjic (R)
MF H.Kiyotake (K)
MF K.Mizunuma (R)
MF T.Fukumitsu (S/R)
DF S.Nakazawa (S/R)
FW T.Tashiro (S/R)
FW K.Tamada (S/R)
(K = Key player, I = Important Player, R = Regular Starter, S = Squad Player, K/I = Key/Important etc)
Expected Starting Lineup 2017:
- Matsuda – Jonjic – Yamashita – Maruhashi
- Mizunuma – Yamaguchi (I) – Souza – Kiyotake (K)
- Kakitani (K) – Sugimoto
Prediction: 9th – 14th