Main Report: The Japanese J League – the Run In

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The European leagues are about a third of the way through their seasons and the Champions League is in the middle of the group stages, but what about elsewhere in the world? This week, takes a look at what’s happening in the J-League in Japan, now in its 18th season.The report has a transcript below and explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the post, while other key phrases (in blue) also have meanings explained.

This weekend will be the 30th game of the 34 game season, so things are reaching a climax at the top and bottom of the table.

Let’s start at the foot of the table. Surprisingly, one of the best supported clubs, Urawa Reds is in the relegation zone on 29 points, one less than Kofu. It would be a real shock if Urawa do drop down a league, but it looks as though it could happen. The Reds have the best attendance of any club this year, regularly pulling in crowds of over 32,000 to their great stadium in Saitama, built for football and the 2002 Wold Cup. The glory years of  2005~2007, they did the double in 2006,  could be a memory come December. They’ll need to turn things around soon, starting with a game against 4th place Yokohama this weekend.

Sitting at the top of the table are Kashiwa, from Chiba prefecture and just north of Tokyo. They have never been crowned J League champions, but do have two titles from the 1970s. Could this be their year? It would be a remarkable turn around because they were relegated two seasons ago.

They recently beat Kashima 1-0 away, which laid down a marker, as Kashima are the most successful J league side. Currently they lie in 7th place and must be worrying about their direction as they finished 4th last year after three consecutive titles.

Challenging Kashiwa for the title are Nagoya and Osaka, both teams with recent pedigree. Of the two, last year’s champions Nagoya look the most likely to overhaul the Chiba club. But a key game should be when Nagoya meet Osaka at home on the 11th of November.

And before we leave the J League, a mention for Sendai, a team from a prefecture devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in March this year. They are in 5th place with 5 wins from 5. Could they do it? Unlikely, but most neutrals would love to see them lift the championship trophy on December the 3rd.


the foot of the table: at the bottom, last

pulling in: attracting, getting

glory years: a tie of success

turn things around: change form, start winning

be relegated: go down, drop to a lower division or level

lay down a marker: have a good result that warns your rivals that you are strong

lie in: be in

pedigree: quality

overhaul: catch, over take

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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