Cerezo were a bit of a disappointment last season as they were expected to build on the 2 cup-wins from the year before. But instead we saw them put in mediocre performances week after week, with several of the key players failing to show up in big matches. For example, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Japan NT regular and the player that were expected to lead the team out there, had a disastrous season and were directly at fault for an alarmingly high number of goals. There was some issues off the field as well, as the relationship between the 2 main men up front Kakitani and Sugimoto became worse and worse throughout the season and as a result both players performed poorly and didn’t even bag 10 goals between them.
Luckily for Cerezo (in a way), both Sugimoto and Yamaguchi is now gone, and the new players they have brought in looks quite promising. To replace Sugimoto up front they brought in Ken Tokura from Consadole Sapporo who is a much more complete and effective striker. The only thing that goes against Tokura is his age, but he should have 1-2 more good seasons in him. I don’t know much about the Argentinian Leandro Desabato in midfield, but based on reports he seems like a more reliable player than Yamaguchi so he might turn out to be an improvement.
To further strengthen their attack they also got the experienced AM Okuno from Vegalta and a new FW from Brazil called Bruno Mendes, but neither of these are expected to be regular starters. Perhaps just as importantly is that they got a new manager in Lotina from Spain. He’s an experienced coach that likes offensive football, so it will be a big contrast to Yoon from the past 2 seasons, and most likely an improvement too.
If the new manager can get out the full potential of players like Kakitani and Kiyotake, and if Tokura turns out to be a instant hit Cerezo could be a contender for a top 3 finish. With no ACL to worry about either they have an advantage compared to a couple of the other top teams. Their main weakness are likely to be the goalkeeper and defence, as they are prone to errors but as long as they score more goals than the opposition they should be ok. And with a more offensive-minded coach I expect to see Cerezo involved in more high-scoring matches this year than last season.
Performance Past Seasons:
2018: (Predicted: 3rd – 5th) 7.
2017: (Predicted: 9th – 14th) 3.
2016: (Predicted: 1st – 2nd) 4. (J2)
2015: (Predicted: 1st – 2nd) 4. (J2)
2014: (Predicted: (5th – 10th) 17.
2013: (Predicted: 4th – 7th) 4.
Average Goals Past Seasons:
2018: 2.26 (39-38) Home: 2.53 / Away: 2.00
2017: 3.18 (65-43) Home: 3.18 / Away: 3.18
2016: 2.57 (62-46) Home: 2.95 / Away: 2.19 (J2)
2015: 2.31 (57-40) Home: 2.24 / Away: 2.38 (J2)
2014: 2.47 (36-48) Home: 2.53 / Away: 2.41
2013: 2.50 (53-32) Home: 2.29 / Away: 2.71
MF Desabato (R)
MF Maeda (S/R)
AM Okuno (S/R)
FW Tokura (K)
FW Bruno Mendes (S/R)
DF Sakemoto (S/R)
DF Moniwa (S/R)
DF Tanaka (S/R)
MF Yamaguchi (R/I)
MF Osmar (R)
MF Yamamura (R)
FW Sugimoto (R/I)
Matsuda – Jonjic –Yamashita – Maruhashi
Souza – Desabato – Kiyotake (K)
Kakitani (I) – Tokura(K) – Takagi
Prediction: 3rd – 6th place