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On With the Show...Round 9 Predictions
With no time to dawdle on the games from Thursday, and with the Golden Week in full force, I finally got my hands on the computer and will do a quick preview/prediction. Only an hour before the first kickoff, so here is my list...

S-Pulse/Ardija --> Ardija. Ardija Squirrels have gotten back on track with good wins against Marinos and Trinita. In the last game against Trinita, though, the weakest link in Ardija looked to me (imho) like #5 Tomita -- especially in the first half, he looked out of focus and created a number of very dangerous situations for his teammates. Hopefully those things have been ironed out in the past few days of prep. Davidson should be back after his ban in the last game due to cards. Btw, in the last game I spent a good five minutes chuckling my head off watching the squirrel mascot running around -- his tail! his Taillll...... it's as big as the human inside the costume and bounces...and....anyway, I guess you gotta be there.

Urawa/Nagoya --> Nagoya. I complained in a previous entry that Kashima Antlers were not getting the media attention that they should be considering their performance so far. I guess it's not as media-sexy for them to be doing well; however, I do find it interesting that Nagoya is getting even less attention despite the fact that they are currently in second place and have been playing solidly as well. The game-preview on J's goal spent 97% of their discussion on Reds, and threw a sentence about Nagoya in in the last paragraph. But really, people should be giving props to Nagoya. Goalie Narazaki seems to be on a roll after his pk save in the FCTokyo game a few weeks ago. We may not see a high number of goals in this game, but I think it will be a good one to watch.

Gamba/Vissel --> Draw. Vissel's coach Leao has been making some changes in the lineup and positions, so it is a hard one to predict. However, the team seems to have comprehended his wishes and vision well, and with Holvy back from his cold (I'm assuming he's back in ) and Miura back on the left Vissel may have a good chance scoring against a Gamba who have been allowing many recently. Don't know exactly what the problem with Gamba is. They should be pretty stable in defense, but I think with the team going for a more aggressive ambitious approach to their game plan it is the risk that they have been taking. Against Vissel I do think that they will be continuing with an offensive plan.

Oita/FCTokyo --> FCTokyo. FCTokyo will be welcoming Kaji back to their defense line on the right. This is pretty crucial for the team as Tokyo's right side is its base of operations. Without Kaji, Ishikawa has been looking a bit lost. And the damage to the defense line with Moniwa out has kept Tokyo from playing the kind of football they want. They have been stuck in some sort of purgatory between unconfident attack and vulnerable defense. Oita, from what I saw of othe Omiya game this week, has a strong forward in Magna Alves -- he has a wiry athleticism that keeps him very dangerous. Oita could get a goal in this game, so I think it's still a dangerous game for Tokyo. Incidentally, Oita has the #12 jersey listed as "Supporters" on their website team roster list. Kinda cute!

Verdy/Marinos --> Verdy. Why? Not sure, really! These two teams obviously have great players but they do fluctuate -- moments where they lose focus, etc. Nakazawa will still be out, and hopefully Matsuda won't rupture an artery in his head stressing out over Washington.

Frontale/Chiba --> Frontale. I love the boys in Chiba, but I think Frontale are more dangerous right now. The saving grace for Chiba will be that Frontale's obvious offensive ambitions will leave them vulnerable to the speedy Chiba attack. Both teams have gotten and allowed tons of goals already, and it may continue in this game. But Frontale has matured, and after their win against Marinos they will look doubly dangerous. Juninho is back, and that is probably mentally advantageous to them.

Antlers/Cerezo --> Antlers.

Reysol/Jubilo --> Draw.

Sanfrecce/Alibrex --> Draw.
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