Two-time league champions Kawasaki Frontale open their 2020 season campaign at home to Sagan Tosu on Saturday afternoon.
Frontale finished 4th last season, something of an underperformance compared to their previous two seasons where they finished in top spot.
Despite delivering the Levain Cup last season, manager Toru Oniki is under pressure to perform in the league and ensure his side are in serious contention for the title this year.
Meanwhile Sagan Tosu will do well to steer clear of relegation this season. The financial health of the club is in doubt, as they have been forced to sell key players such as Spaniard Isaac Cuenca.
Sagan Tosu had former Atletico Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea striker Fernando Torres in the side for the last couple of years, but the former World Cup winner could only muster 5 goals in 2 seasons.
With home advantage and a gulf in technical quality between the two sides, this match could be a white wash with Kawasaki sending a bold message on opening day.
Key Talking Points: Kawasaki Frontale
- Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao looks set to be a regular starter for Frontale and is tipped to be in the running for the golden boot.
- Although they had a lacklustre finish to 2019, Frontale lost only 6 games all season, the fewest in the league.
- Goals are already in abundance for the Kanagawa prefecture based side, who soundly beat Shimizu-S-Pulse 5-1 in the Levain Cup last weekend.
Key Talking Points: Sagan Tosu
- Sagan’s prime source of goals is likely to come from former Portimonense and Kashima Antlers frontman, Mu Kanazaki.
- Tosu narrowly avoided the relegation play-off last season, surviving on goal difference. With little activity in the transfer window it is likely they will face a similar battle this year too.
- Interestingly Sagan Tosu are one of only 2 teams to have never been relegated from J1, along with Kashima Antlers. They have not been relegated since achieving their first promotion in 2011.