Vegalta Sendai has been one of the most stable teams in the league the past few years, and in the last 6 seasons they finished between 11th and 14th each time. They are not a team rich on high-profile players or stars, but they have always been a physically strong team that works well together and are known to be a tough (and sometimes painful) opponent to play against.
Player by player they doesn’t really look like a good team, and I predicted for them to be relegated both past 2 seasons. Last year they were saved by the breakthrough of the 22 year old striker Takumi Nishimura, who scored 11 goals in 24 matches before being sold to CSKA Moscow midway through the season. Which has often been a problem for them – they are not able to keep all their best players for too long (Crislan left in 2017, Mita and Watanabe left for Kobe in 2016 etc).
In addition to Nishimura leaving midway through the season, they have also lost their best CB in Itakura to Man City, and in midfield regulars like Nakano, Notsuda and Okuno have also left. The players that have been brought in instead does not seem to be on the same level and among those only Simao Junior is expected to be a regular starter. Up front Nagasawa is new, but the former Gamba and Kobe-striker is not exactly known for being a prolific goalscorer so they will most likely have to rely mostly on veteran Ishihara for goals this season too.
So overall this team looks even weaker than last year, and I will be surprised if they are able to avoid relegation. They are a hard-working team though, and their manager Susumu Watanabe have been good at getting the best out of his players so they might surprise me again.
Performance Past Seasons:
2018: (Predicted: 15th – 18th) 11.
2017: (Predicted: 15th – 18th) 12.
2016: (Predicted: 12th – 14th) 12.
2015: (Predicted: 12th – 16th) 14.
2014: (Predicted: 5th – 10th) 14.
2013: (Predicted: 4th – 6th) 13.
Average Goals Past Seasons:
2018: 2.88 (44-54) Home: 3.18 / Away: 2.59
2017: 2.85 (44-53) Home: 2.88 / Away: 2.82
2016: 2.55 (39-48) Home: 2.53 / Away: 2.58
2015: 2.70 (44-48) Home: 3.53 / Away: 1.88
2014: 2.50 (35-50) Home: 3.18 / Away: 1.82
2013: 2.32 (41-38) Home: 2.59 / Away: 2.06
DF Teruyama (S/R)
MF Simao Junior (R)
MF Hyodo (S/R)
MF Iio (S/R)
MF Matsushita (S/R)
MF Ishihara (S/R)
MF Michibuchi (S/R)
FW Nagasawa (R)
DF Itakura (I)
MF Nakano (R)
MF Notsuda (R)
MF Sugai (S/R)
MF Kobayashi (S/R)
MF Yajima (S/R)
AM Okuno (R)
FW Havenaar (S/R)
Hiraoka – Oiwa (I) – Kim
Hachisuka– Tsuihashi – Simao Junior – Nagato
Ramon Lopes – Ishihara(I)
Prediction: 16th – 18th