Urawa Reds- Shimizu S-Pulse
Urawa could seal the first stage title today, but would need a lot to go their way elsewhere and it is not very likely, but offensively, they look an unstoppable force right now, something we spoke about ahead of their 3-3 draw away to Kashiwa Retsol in midweek.....
".there is not as much between these two as the league table suggests, certainly not as much as 1.5 + points per game and I am expecting a close game today and hopefully a bit of a shootout. Having said that, Urawa are much improved on last season and a little more pleasing on the eye and adventurous this time round, Reysol have been focused on their Champions League campaign, but can largely forget about that until the end of August. They will surely give J-League their full attention now, the first stage is over for them, even a top three place in the overall championship seems highly unlikely**, so they will have to look towards winning the second series, but need to find some domestic form in the interim. If they give today a real go, as they surely will, it will give Reysol some indication of where they stand in the J-L pecking order and I suspect that is not too far off the top.
Reds could be crowned first stage champions as early as Sunday should they win today and could then celebrate in front of their own supporters, they have no need to sit back, a point will not make too much difference either way and surely goals are on the cards this "lunchtime" (sorry, if I try to write in anything other than a European time scale/frame, it will be too confusing). Urawa have scored 16 goals in four starts since being eliminated from the CL and have clearly thrown the shackles off that have been holding them back offensively for so much of the last 15 months. They have also conceded in each of those games, including four times at Vegalta Sendai. Reysol have recorded back to back home 0-0 draws, but both teams came with a negative approach and the fixtures were ahead of vital CL fixtures and in a very crowded schedule, they might feel that they owe their supporters a little excitement and do not have much to lose from today either and in a match which has traditionally produced goals, it is hard to see how today can play out otherwise. The last ten meetings in Chiba have averaged exactly 4.0 goals, Urawa have scored two or more in six of those and Reysol likewise in six of seven . I am not overly worried about team news, today is more about history, approach and with both having more to gain from winning, than losing/drawing, at least in my own warped thinking ! However, the fact that both are missing key defensive players hardly hurts !"
That finished 3-3 and I hope and expect Urawa to continue in this free wheeling , free scoring manner, which is totally alien to the, at times, timid approach we saw from them last season. They have scored 19 goals in their last five starts, three of which have produced at least six goals and will be looking to beat up on a suspect Shimizu backline which has conceded a league high 26 goals and is very short of defensive options. On the plus side for the visitors, they are coming off a rare free midweek and from their best result of the season, a 5-2 defeat of highflying Kawasaki Frontale last week. They have also scored in 8 of 9 visits to Saitama and can play their part in an open encounter.
over 3.25 goals 2.13 asian line/Sportmarket.