J1 League Preview: FC Tokyo begin eight-game road trip with visit to Consadole Sapporo
FC Tokyo will look to maintain their lead at the top of the J1 League this weekend when they travel north to face Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.
The hosts head in to the match on the back of a whopping 8-0 hammering of Shimizu S Pulse last weekend. Meanwhile, the current table-toppers were narrowly beaten by former champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 at the Ajinomoto Stadium.
A win for the hosts will go a long way in reviving their challenge for a top 3 finish and subsequent qualification for the Asian Champions League. Should the visitors bring home the points they will maintain their 4 point lead at the top of the table.
FC Tokyo begin their gruelling run of 8 straight away games this weekend with a visit to the Sapporo Dome. Last Saturday, Consadole thrashed Shimizu S Pulse 8-0 in a massacre at Shimizu’s Nihon Daira Stadium. As a result, spirits are bound to be high as they head into this fixture.
English striker Jay Bothroyd bagged 3 goals for himself and took home the match ball. The former Cardiff, QPR and Wolves man plays as a number 9 for his side, with the young Thai hopeful Chanathip Songkrasin and Japanese international Musashi Suzuki slotting in behind.
On the other hand, FC Tokyo have struggled to find goals of late. They have largely relied on a compact counter-attacking system for a major part of this season. This has proven to be effective against teams who play an open and attacking game, but they have struggled against teams who have opted for a similar defensive set-up.
Despite Sapporo’s comfortable victory last weekend, there is every chance they will come unstuck against the team from the capital.
Head Coach Mihailo Petrovic has attempted to implement an attacking style of play since arriving at the beginning of the 2018 season. This approach may play into Tokyo’s hands, as they are likely to afford their opponents a lion's share of possession and hit them on the break.
Frontmen Diego Oliveira and Kensuke Nagai have formed a formidable attacking partnership this season, tallying a total of 20 goals between them.
If past seasons are taken into account, Tokyo's form should nosedive from here. Previous seasons have seen them start positively, only to run out of steam mid-season. They will be hoping that is not the case this time around.