Vegalta Sendai host Nagoya Grampus in Matchday 1 of the J-League 2020 season on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides led lackluster league campaigns last season, with Sendai finishing 11th and Nagoya further down the table in 13th, avoiding the relegation play-off by a single point.
Sendai were soundly beaten 5-2 by Urawa Reds in their opening Levain Cup game last weekend. In their current form, a mid-table finish would be an over achievement for them.
Manager Takashi Kiyama will aim to restore the faith of the fans by kick starting the 2020 season with a home win on Saturday.
Grampus claimed a narrow 1-0 victory over Kashima Antlers in the cup last weekend. A 43rd minute side of the area free kick from Mateus, caught keeper Kwoun Sun Tae off guard.
Incumbent manager Massimo Ficcadenti arrived in the middle of last season. His trademark cautious and conservative style of play has split opinions within the Grampus support.
With both sides adopting a low risk defensive approach, goal chances are likely to be lacking in this match.
Key Talking Points: Vegalta Sendai
- Despite their bottom half finish, Vegalta boasted one of the best home records in the league last season. 31 of the 41 points tallied were earned at home.
- New signing Isaac Cuenca has been ruled out for 6 months with a knee injury. Portuguese forward Alexandre Guedes is also rumored to be unavailable.
- Sendai boast the better head to head record between the two sides, winning 3 of the past 4 meetings.
Key Talking Points: Nagoya Grampus
- Brazilian attacking midfielder Mateus has returned from his loan spell at Yokohama F Marinos with a J-League winners medal. He is likely to be a prominent starter this season.
- Former Manchester City and Everton striker Jo has been undergoing rehab for a knee injury during pre-season and will be unavailable for this match.
- Further injuries persist with defensive options as Kosuke Ota and Yutaka Yoshida remain unavailable.