Kashima Antlers – Shonan Bellmare:
Not the best start for Kashima to the season with a surprising 1-2 loss vs Oita in R1 and a sub-par performance in the 1-1 draw away vs Kawasaki in R2 so they still seem to be some way off their optimal form. They could only beat Malaysian side Johor 2-1 at home in ACL too, which was a bit underwhelming. They still got several players out with injuries, and it’s looking quite thin particularly at the back.
Shonan have played 2 home-games so far vs tough teams, and were happy to get away with a 2-0 win in R1 vs Consadole. They put in a good fight in R2 as well Tokyo, but lost 2-3 in the end. They were actually pretty good away last season, and in their last 14 away-matches they ended up with a very respectable 6-3-5 record.
Kashima started last year’s campaign also very bad and only had 3 wins in their first 11 matches, and that could very well happen this year too. They got a tough schedule with ACL-involvement, and they also had a much shorter winter break than the rest of the teams due to the Club World Cup and on top of that they are also struggling with injuries. So I wouldn’t rule out Shonan getting away with something here although Kashima should of course be favorites.
Kashima Expected Starting Lineup:
2Uchida– 28Machida* – 39Inukai – 22Anzai*
8Doi – 6Nagaki* – 4Leo Silva – 10Abe
18Serginho – 15Ito*
DF Ito (S/R)
DF Oda (S/R)
DF Jung ®
DF Yamamoto ®
DF Sasaki (S/R)
MF Nakamura (S/R)
FW Suzuki (R/I)
Shonan Expected Starting Lineup:
13Yamane – 3Freire – 8Ono
6Okamoto – 18Matsuda – 16Saito – 5Sugioka
2Kikuchi(I) – 39Taketomi(I)
Prediction: 2-1 or 1-1
The totals looks spot-on here, but I find Shonan 1×2 @ 4,65 (10 units) quite interesting.