The 2011 J. League kicks off on March 5, and it looks set to be another bumper season.
A handful of marquee match-ups dominate the opening day, including the Osaka derby between Gamba and Cerezo and a regional showdown between promoted Ventforet Kofu and Jubilo Iwata.
Ready for kick-off in the 2011 J. League.
Defending champions Nagoya Grampus kick off their campaign with a tricky home fixture against Yokohama F. Marinos at Toyota Stadium, while promoted Kashiwa Reysol host Shimizu S-Pulse in a Saturday night slugfest that has been sold out for weeks.
Sunday’s games see Vissel Kobe Togel Online take on Urawa Reds just months after Vissel salvaged their top flight status with an astonishing 4-0 final-day victory over the Reds, while heavyweights Kashima Antlers welcome Omiya Ardija to Kashima Stadium.
Round 1 fixtures:
Ventforet Kofu vs Jubilo Iwata (Yamanashibank Stadium)
Nagoya Grampus vs Yokohama F. Marinos (Toyota Stadium)
Gamba Osaka vs Cerezo Osaka (Expo ’70 Stadium)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs Vegalta Sendai (Big Arch Stadium)
Avispa Fukuoka vs Albirex Niigata (Level-5 Stadium)
Kawasaki Frontale vs Montedio Yamagata (Todoroki Stadium)
Kashiwa Reysol vs Shimizu S-Pulse (Kashiwa Hitachi Stadium)
Vissel Kobe vs Urawa Reds (HOME’S Stadium)
Kashima Antlers vs Omiya Ardija (Kashima Stadium)
Owl Mascot Kicked To Death Stirs Protest
An owl kicked to death in a match in Colombia between Barranquilla club Atletico Junior and Deportivo Pereira has lead to a storm of protests and internet controversy.
The owl was the unofficial mascot of Atletico Junior and had already been hit by the ball before it was unceremoniously booted off the pitch by Deportivo Pereira defender Luis Moreno, who has subsequently been suspended for two games and fined.
The poor owl didn’t look too healthy before the chain of events and questions must be asked why it was on the pitch to begin with. Birds of prey as club mascots are growing in popularity: Lazio now parade an eagle they “signed” from Benfica. Animal rights groups have condemned the fashion.
So how do we beat them? Once your team has done the basics of keeping its shape and its marking tight, it could try to tempt Barcelona upfield and then hit them on the break, but you have to be lightning quick as they scurry back after the ball faster than anyone. Nevertheless, full-backs Adriano and Daniel Alves stay true to their Brazilian blood and fly up the flanks into attack, leaving yards of grass behind to exploit on the counter.
Their goalkeeper Victor Valdes and back four are not as stellar as their midfield and attack, and can crack under pressure and at set pieces, as Arsenal’s goal proved. Applying any pressure is the hardest thing to do as Barça not only fight like tigers for the ball but run like cheetahs on the counter, making committing men forward a highly risky business.
But Pep Guardiola’s men are certainly beatable by a well-organised team, as Inter showed last year on their way to the trophy. Perhaps it is only Real Madrid, buoyed by their historical feud and by Jose Mourinho, who would take Barcelona on without fear and give them a run for their money.
More than a club? Certainly, but more than human they are not.