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Round 8 Predictions
Hey, it's that time of the week, folks. This week there is another "extra" round shoved in on Thursday night. Not a lot of time to catch our breaths from the weekend (and making this blogger feel a mite rushed).. But hey, here goes.

My Round 8 Predictions are as follows: click to enlarge

The tough calls were the Jubilo/Reds, Cerezo/Sanfrecce, and Chiba/Gamba games.

I called a draw on the Jubilo/Reds game because both teams are just in the process of getting their rhythm. I could be completely off, and one team may roar into the match like a typhoon, but I think the score may end up see-sawing back and forth. Ultimately, this could mean that the final whistle blows when one team is one goal ahead, but I'm thinking the probability may be for a draw. Up front, it's about time for Cullen to score for Jubilo again. I wonder if Fukunishi will still be out to injury. And for Reds I'm thinking Tanaka may upstage Emerson with a goal. Other than that, I look forward to seeing Hasebe (dmf, Reds) set up a goal, and also will keep an eye out for Chano (def, Jubilo) who has got to be the most invisible member of the NT... I can't quite remember what he looks like half the time! But in recent games he's actually been showing lots of good technique, strong physique, and hustle.

Cerezo/Sanfrecce...hmm. Toughie. I called a draw here too (see a trend?) but I do think the advantage is on Sanfrecce. Both teams are on a three-game winning streak, and both teams have a very apparent and clear picture of what their game plan is, what plays to rely on, etc. Sanfrecce has the better defense, and probably will be harder for Cerezo to score against them compared to Reds. Cerezo are at home, and after their win against Reds, they won't be playing shy football against Sanfrecce. They will come out -- probably when Morisaki or Komano can send a long feed up to Gauvao or someone and go for a quick counter. Theirs is very effective, and especially against a defense like Cerezo's, who tend to be a little wishy washy about organizing the back line. But Cerezo are on a roll too, so I'm chickening out and calling a draw.

Chiba/Gamba: [Oh, before I forget, I forgot to mention in my review of the Gamba/FCTokyo game last Saturday one fun thing. When FCTokyo was taking a freekick, the Gamba players in front of the goal did the can-only-use-once trick of taking a step forward in unison just before the kicker kicked... in other words they went for the off-side trap on a free kick. On slow-mo, you could really see it well -- absolutely in perfect synch. I wonder if that was a Miyamoto suggestion. He loves that kinda stuff. ] Okay, back to the topic. I called this game for Gamba. I think that they have finally begun to find themselves. Chiba is a classy team, but they tend to be light on defense. If they are going to win this match, it will be a matter of whether their defenders can play with stability against the likes of Oguro, Juninho and Futagawa. The Gamba offense is high caliber, and they usually do unexpected things or do things faster than you'd expect. I don't think Chiba will be able to keep up with that. But I predict a multi-goal game here. I sort of see this as a repeat of the FCTokyo/Gamba game -- FCTokyo missed key defense players and the caliber back there was compromised; they still had the attack though but it wasn't an easy job against the Gamba defense. I think Chiba will play a similar game, scorewise.

Grampus/Verdy: will also be a match to look forward to -- especially if the team you like is currently fighting it out in the top half of the rankings! Nagoya are currently in second place. Their goalie Narazaki is on a roll, and they have some inspired young talent like Tsuda. Verdy still seems too fragile to play against a no-nonsense sturdy team like Grampus and come out winning. Then again, Verdy have a lot of players that can pull out sudden bursts of magic.

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