J1 League match preview: FC Tokyo look to regain momentum against Vissel Kobe
A win for the capital city club, currently 2nd, will maintain pressure on pack leaders Kashima Antlers who face off against relegation threatened Matsumoto Yamaga on Friday.
Tokyo’s loss to Sagan Tosu in their previous match allowed Antlers to leapfrog them to the top of the table with their 1-0 win over Cerezo Osaka.Kenta Hasegawa’s men held on to stop spot for the majority of the season but have experienced a dire run of form as of late, winning only 1 of their last 5 games. The success they achieved early in the season can partly be attributed to the contribution of young star Takefusa Kubo, who departed for Real Madrid mid-season.
The use of Tokyo Stadium as a host venue for the Rugby World Cup meant that the Gasmen had to play the majority of their home games at the beginning of the season. This is also a contributing factor to their early success.
The lack of mid-season signings and inability to make strategic adjustments in playing style has caused the Gasmen to gradually drop points as the season progressed.
There are now six games left of the season and the stats suggest Tokyo may slip even further, should manager Hasegawa resist the urgency to switch strategies.
In reverse fashion, Vissel Kobe started the season with a horrendous run of results. Despite having superstars such as Iniesta, David Villa and Lukas Podolski on their books, the Kansai-based club found themselves hovering around the relegation area and switched managers midway through the season.
Since current manager Thorsten Fink took charge, the ship has been steadied somewhat. The German has won six of his 14 league games, including upsets against champions Kawasaki Frontale and FC Tokyo.They currently sit in 9th place and are sure to be aiming for as high a league finish as possible.