As @AgentOrange2009 will soon say, screw the niceties, and let’s dig deep into the relegationistan roulette….
On the surface, week 33 offered no change in terms of the Relegation table. All 4 potential relegation victims succumbed to their opponents. However, looking more closely, it seems as though some losses might be worse than others.
Screw the niceties, let’s dig in to this feast of famine
13th place Jubilo Iwata 33 points -14 goal differential 37 goals scored
What happened? Jubilo lost to Urawa after Yuki Muto scored in the 72nd minute. It was a bit of a moral victory for Iwata who put up a good defensive effort after a big onslaught by Urawa. Jubilo was outshot 21-6 at home.
How bad was the loss? Losing 1-0 to the league leaders is not an awful result especially considering that everybody below Jubilo in the table also lost. It also helps that the team goes into the final round with a full contingent of players and advantages in points, goal differential and goals scored. If there was a winner this week, it was Jubilo.
What’s next? Jubilo finish up their season with a road trip north to Sendai. Sendai lost 1-0 at FC Tokyo after winning against Tosu and Kobe. It’s the last match for their longtime Brazilian striker Wilson, so there maybe an emotional edge for the home squad and a bit more incentive for a victory.
Survival Chances? 99 percent plus. A draw secures their place in J1 in 2017. Even if they can’t do that it would take victories by all three teams below them to put them in a tie for relegation. The fact that Jubilo holds a better goal differential than both Albirex (+1) and Nagoya (+4) and more goals scored than both clubs makes it a near certainty that Jubilo will be around.
14th place Ventforet Kofu 31 points -25 goal differential 32 goals scored
What happened? In a fairly ragged match between the two lowest payrolls in J1, Shonan managed to notch the victory with a goal from a free kick from Yuto Misao. Kofu had a chance in the first half, but a Horigome free kick went off the crossbar. The real story of the match was the inability of Davi to get or create any real chances.
How bad was the loss? Considering what happened during the week, it’s not fatal but it does seem like a wasted opportunity. If they had won, J1 would be guaranteed for 2017. The good news is that they managed to get out with no injuries or suspensions so they go in to their final match with a full group.
What’s next? It’s Kim Min Woo’s final J League match before military duty, so that will be the motivation for a Sagan Tosu locked into the 11th-12th place position. It’s a matchup of two teams that like to sit back and counter. This game could get very messy for Kofu if Tosu scores early and other results start going against them.
Survival Chances? 50 percent. The point advantage is mitigated by a horrid goal differential and a slight disadvantage in goals scored. I think a draw will probably be enough. I’m not sure how the team will respond to losing against Shonan. That being said, they have control of their destiny, which is a lot brighter than…..
15th place Albirex Niigata 30 points -15 goal differential 33 goals scored
What Happened? Well, if you ask Albirex, Okabe happened. In the 51st minute, striker (and Urawa’s next fantastic Albirex import) Rafael Silva went down in the penalty box after a fair amount of contact from two Gamba defenders. Okabe, the referee for the match adjudged that Silva had dived and showed him a second yellow card. The controversial call put Albirex down to ten men in a 1-1 match. Defender Michael James got whistled 9 minutes later for a hand ball in the box, giving Gamba a pk and putting the home side up 2-1. To add to the misery, Leo Silva received a straight red card after knocking a yellow card out of Okabe’s hand in stoppage time. Gamba put up a third late to seal the game 3-1.
How bad was the loss? The loss seems kind of secondary to the loss of players for the final match. Of the four losses, this was the worst and puts Albirex in a bind going into the last match on a short week.
What’s next? It’s the last stop on the Koji Morisaki goodbye tour. Sanfrecce will finish somewhere between 5th and 9th so the match doesn’t have a ton of importance for them. Mikic (bad driving) and former Niigata defender Kazuhiko Chiba (alleged doping) are both suspended for this match which helps a bit. Unfortunately for Niigata, Gakuto Notsuda is ruled out for this one as well because of the rental agreement between the clubs. Albirex will also be without their Silvas who are gone due to red cards. Key defender Michael James will also be watching from the stands after picking up his 3rd yellow card of the second stage.
Survival Chances? If I’m being generous, 5 percent. Goal differential helps but I’m not sure how they are going to cope after losing 4 key players. On paper, they face the strongest opponent by far in former champions Sanfrecce. I thought they were going down 2 months ago, was convinced earlier this month, and have no doubts now. Albirex is done. Unless they aren’t.
16th place Nagoya Grampus 30 points -18 goal differential 37 goals scored
What happened? After blowing a 1-0 lead last week against Jubilo and falling back into relegation, Nagoya put up their worst performance in the post Ogura era. A short handed Kobe squad put up 3 goals on Tulio and company, exposing a rapidly decomposing Seigo Narazaki in goal.
How bad was the loss? It’s not very good for a team that has had fragile confidence all season long to lose an arguably winnable game in such a non-competitive manner. Had Albirex not been judicially slaughtered, I’d argue that this loss was devastating but Nagoya seems to eternally be stuck in J1, which I despise.
What’s next? Shonan come to Nagoya to play potential Giant Killer. In the second stage, they managed to notch wins against Albirex and Kofu, so either they are huge spoilers or complicit in aiding Nagoya in a bit of Relegationistan larceny. I don’t approve. Daisuke Kikuchi is ruled out of this one because of too many yellow cards. That helps.
Survival Chances? 100 percent dead solid lock unless I was right about them intentionally tanking the season…then it’s 0 percent. WHO THE HELL KNOWS WITH THIS TEAM……GET OFF MY LAWN, NAGOYA!!!!!!!!
On the next episode of Relegationistan: AFTERMATH
(header pic from Sponichi)