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Put My "Money" Where My Mouth Is...

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After six rounds of this year's J-league, I thought it would be fun to start "betting" (without putting money on the line, just honor...hee hee) on my predictions -- actually I rarely like to make predictions b/c I hate to be wrong(!!) but I figured it would be good for my ego to make a call in black and white and see what the dice rolls. There is a section in the
J's Goal website that allows you to keep track of your predictions (you have to log in but it's free). On the first page, click the RED button on the left. When you are done making your bets, click the orange bar below the chart. After the Round is played, you can come back to the page and see what your total points add up to... I think I'll start doing my pre-game analysis using this betting chart as it forces me to address each matchup, not just the ones that are high profile.

My first prediction is that I am going to crash and burn on pretty much every call. However; and this is a big however; However, if I happen to do pretty nicely (like getting all of them correct), I thought I may actually put my money where my mouth is and put up 100yen to purchase a Toto ticket. Toto is the J-League betting company -- I'm not too keen on betting as a pastime, but I figure this is just another aspect of J-league football in Japan. Might as well try it once...for the experience.

The tough matchups to predict was the Verdy/Albirex and Trinita/Vissel games. Verdy's Washington and Morimoto are looking good together, and their win against Omiya Ardija last week must have been quite a relief after their consecutive losses (and bad ones). Deep down my first instinct was to say that it was going to be a tie, but somehow I'm counting on last week's win as some sort of sign that the team is finding its "legs". Though Albirex's arsenal of great foreign players can always do some damage, I thought somehow that Verdy would control the game. The Trinita/Vissel game is also a toughie. Trinita are doing pretty lousy (to be honest the only game of theirs that I've watched so far was their 11 vs 9 man game against Reds which was quite atrocious), but so is Vissel. The difference this week being that Vissel's players will have more than 3 points to be fighting for -- they will be fighting to save face after their coach Matsunaga was given the sackie pack (ie. fired). In my gut, I have a feeling that instead of the tie, Vissel may walk away with the 3 points...but I'm figuring on nerves and frustration to lead to some loss of focus which may give Trinita a chance for an equalizer.

The other game of note is the Antlers vs. Jubilo "Classico"... cue dramatic opera music. But seriously, when these two teams get together it will be worth watching. For some reason, it doesn't matter if Jubilo is currently doing rather poorly or that Antlers are doing well -- when playing each other, anything can happen. But I give the win to Antlers for a number of reasons, the most significant being Jubilo's Wednesday defeat in the ACL group stage game -- this defeat pretty much eliminated them from the ACL competition. Physically they should be exhausted, and mentally this elimination from the ACL must be a blow.

Yokohama F. Marinos is the other team who has had to also juggle the ACL group stage games with the J1 games. This Wednesday they were able to get a win and are still in the running. The Marinos vs. Ardija game is another possible tie-game; depending on how exhausted Marinos is versus how revved up Ardija can get after their disappointing loss to Verdy last Sunday. But the Marinos defense has quality players with height, power, and experience -- Ardija won't be able to get too many sure-fire chances at goal unless they can come up with offensive plays that don't always involve hauling the ball to Christian (he will be heavily marked)...I'm thinking Morita may be a better forward to use in the game in lieu of Tuto; he seemed to be quicker on his feet and in the air, and Tuto could get a rest.

Looking at the performances until now I would have said that the Sanfrecce/Frontale game would end in a tie -- but with the news that Frontale is missing their two really-key players, Juninho (another 1-2 weeks to heal) and Ganaha (4 months to recover), I think that Sanfrecce may be able to clinch a win. Sanfrecce's captain Morisaki has been on a roll with some nicely executed shots, and sidehalf Komano continues to give high quality crosses. The other reason I figure Sanfrecce can hold Frontale back is that so far they have done very well defensively, giving up only 4 goals.

The matchup between Reds and Cerezo: with Reds starting to get the groove of things in their last game against FCTokyo (Reds won 2-0), I would have to bet on Reds to win. Cerezo have piled up 7 points to Reds' 6 points, but the problem with Cerezo will be with the back line. The defenders in Cerezo tend to slide back down too quickly. In other words, with Reds connecting the dots in midfield and assuming they don't lose the ball so easily to the pressure from Cerezo, the defense line gets scared off too quickly and begins sliding back without bravely going for the offside trap. If they can stand their ground in that vital 5 meter length, they could better delay Reds' attack and movement. But with Emerson being a threat up front it will be a formidable task for coach Shinji Kobayashi to show his defenders how to control that back line, at least in this game. In midfield, Cerezo has the likes of Morishima, Jose Carlos, and Furuhashi -- these guys move well together, not getting too ahead of themselves and lining up numbers in front before making the play.
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