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Japan J1 2022

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Vissel Kobe dnb @1.93

Min price to bet: dnb @1.86 or -1/4 @2.23

Model +value: yes for current price, small for min price

Significant team news: - (cm Barada doubt for Shonan, fw Osako back for Kobe)

Note: Two bottom-placed teams, both with 1-4-8 after 13 rounds, and while Shonan were expected to struggle, ACL participant Kobe def do not belong in the basement. 2 encouraging games in the last week for them, 4-0 home win vs Tosu and then narrow 0-1 home defeat against champions Kawasaki, with late injury time goal preventing Kobe from winning a point. Shonan have won their J League cup group, but things are not going so well in the league, they are still win-less at home as well and we make them bigger underdogs here than current prices suggest. Kobe at 43% for us, small pref for overs at current o2.25 204ish, but not enough for a pick. Ok weather in Hiratsuka, with some occasional rain.


Kawasaki -1/4 @2.00

Min price to bet: -1/4 @1.95

Model +value: yes

Significant team news: cm Songkrasin and lb Noborizato still out for Frontale (with long-term injured cb Jesiel and cm Oshima)

Note: The reigning champions Kawasaki have won their last 4 J1 games without conceding a goal, no problems for them even after exhausting ACL group-stage tournament in Malaysia, however while they have no new injuries, it is expected that their first 11 will be a bit weaker for this game against Sagan Tosu, with at least 2 of standard attacking trio Damiao, Marcinho and Ienaga starting only on bench (possibly even all 3), with some further rotations possible in midfield and defence as well. Our min price includes this possibility, however it doesn't look like it's reflected in market prices so if this rumor gets confirmed once starting lineups are announced (that's usually 115-120 mins b4 kick off in J1), Kawasaki price should actually improve. While their 11 could be weaker, let's not forget that the likes of cf Chinen, cm Schmidt or Frontale legend fwd Kobayashi would easily be the first choice in most J1 clubs. Sagan Tosu are having a very good season, they are 5th and last week's defeat at Vissel Kobe was only their 2nd loss; they are still unbeaten at home where they conceded only 2 goals in 5 games. This should be tight and low-scoring game between teams who like to have control of the match with high ball possession percentage, but ultimately Frontale's quality should prevail and we would give them around 47-47.5 to win. Ok weather.

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  • 1 month later...

Jubilo Iwata +1.25 @1.87
Min price to bet: +1.25 @1.80 or +1 @2.09
Model +value: yes
Significant team news: -
Note: After a superb 5-1-0 run in J1, with 4 straight wins, Hiroshima truly disappointed on Wednesday at Gamba Osaka and deservedly lost the game 2-0. It was a poor performance with very little offensive ideas - Gamba's veteran gk Higashiguchi had to make only 2 saves and catch 2 crosses in 90 mins to secure a clean sheet; and while weather was truly unfriendly, with very high temperature affecting the performance, it is still not an excuse for what Hiroshima have shown. Schedule is congested now and Sanfrecce will play 5 games in next 15 days, 4 in the league and 1 cup, and as coach Skibbe's gegenpressing style is quite demanding physically, squad depth will be essential for success. They are not likely to rotate much tomorrow, but midweek game in difficult conditions is a minus for the hosts here, and so is the fact that heatwave is still terrorising Japan, with temp in Hiroshima expected to reach 36c tomorrow; which is a small bonus for an inferior Iwata team, expected to defend deep. The visitors are in the relegation mix, just outside the drop zone, level on 19pts with Avispa and Shonan, two teams that certainly have more quality than them, but at least form is not bad, with fine 2-1-1 in last 4 in the league, that included nice 1-1 draw at champions Kawasaki (with late equalizer, however also a post hit from nice chance a few minutes later, so almost a surprise win there in the end) and 3-1 win vs good Sagan Tosu side, the only loss in this mini run was against leaders Yokohama, while they also won 2 Emperor's Cup games in June. Iwata are among main relegation candidates, no doubt about that, and while Hiroshima are a genuine top 4 contender, we just can't make them above 62-62.5% for win tomorrow, so current hcap prices on the visitors look interesting. TG unders (we have TG at 2.60) is also a pref - but not strong enough at current prices.

Yokohama -3/4 @1.97 & o3 @2.11
Min price to bet: -3/4 @1.88 or -1 @2.17; o3 @2.02 or o2.75 @1.80
Model +value: yes, v strong
Significant team news: Not great for Marinos, as their top scorer, important cf Anderson Lopes is still suspended (for bizarre spitting incident), while their best rated player this season, first choice rb/lb Ryuta Koike and important cm Kida are both still out injured
Note: Team news favors Shimizu here, but league leaders Marinos have won 4 straight J1 games (10-1 goal diff), all 4 without Anderson Lopes and last 3 without Kida and R.Koike; and also, this game won't be played in Shizuoka, but rather at Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, so Shimizu are only formally the hosts, it's neutral venue. Yoko's league leading position is deserved, they are among the favs for the title and they are performing at a high level, with their offensive depth a real strength - it's unmatched in J1, and their 2.0 gpg is a league best, despite numerous issues with availability of attacking players this season. Shimizu are in the red zone, but have to feel a bit unlucky so far in terms of points won and especially number of goals scored, it should've been higher than 19 in 18 games. While they are not as gung-ho as in the last couple of years, Yokohama still have to be considered as the most offensive side in J1, they lead most of offensive stats, including number of big chances created, the category in which Shimizu are at very high 3rd place at the moment, so this should in theory be a good game of football, and we quite like the look of overs as well; with est TG 3.25. Both picks will be up, however pref is for the hcap, super hot weather in Japan these day's won't help this game, it's gonna be 35-36c in Tokyo tomorrow, with real feel around 30ish during the match, so while our final TG number is lowered for high temp, it's certainly more speculative than in 'normal' circumstances.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shimizu o2.25 @1.89
Min price to bet: o2.25 @1.85 or o2.5 @2.10
Model +value: yes
Significant team news: Shimizu's lb/rb/rm Katayama is suspended, he is their 2nd best rated player this season; cf Junker still out for Urawa
Note: Ok weather conditions in Shizuoka tomorrow, with a couple of showers. Neither of these two teams were involved in Emeperor's Cup games in midweek, and both come into this game after fine league wins last weekend, Shimizu 2-0 at Nagoya, Urawa 3-0 vs Tokyo at home. Clean sheet at Nagoya was Shimizu's first in 8 J1 games, but they have scored in 6th straight and their form seems to be going up; while Urawa have scored in each of last 5 J1 games and are fine 3-3-0 in last 6, good run which finally pushed them away from relegation zone, though their current mid-tab position is still far away from their ACL aspirations. No pref on the hcap market as we make Urawa 51-51.5% to win, however TG overs look good enough, est 2.70 as min; both should create enough to score, both teams are in top 5 in the league in big chances created, Urawa's averages of 1.19 gpg for and 0.90 gpg against are discouraging, but their xG stats suggest there should've been a lot more goals scored in their games (1.68 xG and 1.21 xGa) and that low 2.1 avg is likely to improve in weeks to come.

Yokohama -1/2 @1.94
Min price to bet: -1/2 @1.90 or -3/4 @2.16
Model +value: yes
Significant team news: - (cm Kida still out for Yoko)
Note: After beating Tokyo 5-0 a couple of weeks ago, Sagan Tosu have suffered 3 straight home defeats, first two in the league, vs Kobe (0-2) and Kashiwa (0-1), and then they got knocked out of Emperor's Cup on Wed, after losing 1-3 against J2 team Kofu. Sagan did rotate in the Cup, but so did Kofu and it was a disappointing result for the hosts. Yokohama's 6 game winning streak in J1 ended last weekend vs Cerezo in Osaka, but their mood after the game wasn't bad at all, as they scored 2 late goals to win a point, and 2-2 draw meant it was 7th straight J1 game in which they have scored at least 2 goals. Sagan are normally a very tricky, disciplined opponent who also like to have the ball in their feet, they are 3rd in possession% in J1 this season and managed to win possession battle against reigning champions Kawasaki (2nd in J1 with 58%) as well, in 0-0 home draw earlier this season; but Marinos are leading the league with 62% poss avg and Sagan may have to play different kind of game here - this certainly does not look like an easy game to end their losing streak, and we make the visitors 55.5-56% to get the win. High temp in Tosu tomorrow.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Kashima dnb @2.01
Min price to bet: dnb @1.95
Model +value: yes
Significant team news: - (Hiroshima with important 2nd leg of J League Cup 1/4 final next Wed, so rotation is expected here)
Note: Two evenly matched teams, just 5 points between them, in Kashima's favor, though it is Hiroshima who look a bit stronger of the two at this stage. However, they are in the 1/4 finals of Jap Levian Cup and won their first leg vs league leaders Marinos 3-1 on Wed, playing their best possible 11 in that game. The return leg is in 4 days and the visitors are likely to rotate a bit here, def not expected to play with best 11. A few weeks ago they rotated heavily vs Shonan at home and it was clearly felt, so the Antlers will probably have a decent chance here to get back on winning track, after failing to win in last 4 in the league. It's a bit tricky as league is also very important for Hiroshima, however their Cup intentions seemed quite obvious and we do expect rotation to take place here. The Antlers were quite poor at Marinos last week, they probably should've lost with a bigger margin than 2-0; but this is still a quality J1 side and one that should fight for ACL place until the end of the season. We would go with 40%+ Kashima in this one, though admittedly there is a certain extra risk in this number as it does include expected weaker Sanfrecce lineup. Fine weather conditions, the Antlers have failed to create much last week in Yokohama, but they had a full week to prepare for this game and should be in good position to take advantage of Hiroshima's expected weaker 11.

Urawa dnb 183 or -1/4 221 (at Nagoya) would be a clear pick in normal circumstances, however they played their best 11 a few days ago in a Cup game against the same opponent, while Nagoya rotated heavily with just 3 starters in first 11 - so now it's the hosts who should revert to their strongest 11, while the visitors could rotate a bit, and even though they have a strong bench and are unbeaten in last 8 in J-league, it should still affect their play, so we won't be touching them at this price. 

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  • 1 month later...

Sagan Tosu +1/2 @2.07
Min price to bet: +1/2 @2.00
Model +value: yes
Significant team news: - (Cerezo's cm Harakawa out for season, inj early Aug)
Note: 6th vs 7th, Cerezo have 1 point more, but also 2 games in hand and in case of a good run they can still hope for ACL qualification, so perhaps have a small edge in motivation here, as realistically Tosu can only hope to better their high 7th place finish from last season. However, this could be a difficult game (psychologically) for Cerezo after they suffered two defeats in shocking manner in last 7 days. First they lost at Sapporo in J1 last Sat, after they were the better team for most of the match and entered the final 5 minutes with 1-0 lead, only to concede in last min of inj time for 2-1 defeat, and this came literally 30 secs after they had a chance to go 2-1 ahead. A few days later, on Wed, they had a big 1/4 final game in Emperor's Cup v Hiroshima and pretty much the same happened - the difference was that it was basically an even game, but Cerezo were 1-0 up until 86th minute, when they conceded the equalizer (same min when Sapporo equalized a few days earlier); and then conceded in 91st again to lose the game 2-1. Very, very painful for Cerezo, and they played their best 11 in both these games, so even if this game v Tosu is important, there could be some rotation due to energy spent and possible psychological issues. Sagan Tosu are a decent side anyway, difficult to play against, as while they do not create that many chances, they are very good in possession and they do defend well, quite aggressive without the ball (2nd in J1 in possession won in final third, behind high-press masters Hiroshima). Sagan had a full week to prepare for this game, and while Cerezo Osaka are favs, it's not >47% in our view.

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