The curtain has fallen on the 2021 Japanese J1 League season. It was a intriguing season, which saw Kawasaki Frontale successfully reclaim their title. In truth, outside a slight blip in the summer they looked in complete control from the first game and fully deserved the title.
The final table looked like the below:
AFC Champions League (ACL)
Kawasaki Frontale, Yokohama Marinos secured automatic qualification to the ACL group stage
Vissel Kobe with need to win their play off round to qualify for the group stage. Kashima Antlers will need to hope for Frontale winning the Emperors Cup to allow for them to qualify for the playoffs
The ACL games give extra utility for the players of these teams which can allow for unto 10 games if the team reaches the final! However, its also important to note that although this is a huge positive, we did see a lot of rotation in this seasons ACL which frustrated Sorare managers (me included!)
Relegation from Japan J1 League
The relegation battle went to the wire for Tokushima Vortis, Shonan Bellmare and Shimizu S-Pulse. My prediction on the relegation scrap was pretty accurate in what would happen in the final weeks (but of course not perfect!)
Tokushimas loss on the final day meant they joined Oita Trinita, Vegalta Sendai and Yokohama FC in being relegated to J2. This means that these teams will not be eligble on Sorare unless the player transfer.
Team of the Year for 2021 J1 League
I found the underlying votes and data around this very interesting. It can be found here
Best Player for 2021
Leandro Damiao won the best player and was also joint top scorer. He has already signed a new contract for next year which is a big relief after lots of rumours were swirling around!
Top Scorer in 2021 J league
Maeda was the joint top scorer with 23 goals over the season. The thing that impressed me most about Maeda all year (outside all the goals!) is his stamina and willingness to track back for the team. Regularly you will see him chasing down loose balls or stopping an opposition attack.
He has been heavily linked to a transfer to Celtic and being reunited with Postecoglou. If this gets confirmed, I expect him to do v well there & it will be huge loss to Yokohama FM
Young Player of the Year
Araki had a wonderful season with the Antlers posting 10 goals and 7 Assists. At only 19 years old he is one of the most exciting talents to break through in recent years.
I love watching him play, he has something about him that makes him stand out and has supreme confidence. One other major positive for Sorare in particular is that he is heavily involved in set pieces.
Unsurprisingly, considering the success of Furuhashi and Mitoma etc he is getting a lot of attention from European teams.
I feel like another season with the Antlers would help his progression however at the same time he hasnt shown any lack of confidence or ability each time he has moved up a level so I am excited to watch whatever happens next
Sorare - strategy advice from 2021 J league
I thought it would be interesting to build a J League team based purely on the scoring matrix
For this, I used a very crude method
Went to soraredata and ranked each position by the L40 average
Tried to stick to player positions as best as possible. For example Sakai is a very good scorer but predominantly plays as right back and is just behind Yamane in L40. Noborizato averages lower but its more of a natural left back
Tried to keep to where players played >85% of games
The below is what I got:
Interestingly, 5 of the 11 were in the official team of the year. For Sorare of course we only need to pick 5 players so the players I would recommend will vary a lot, in particular stacking a full team or Goalkeeper and Defender
I will be looking at these type of strategies and other player suggestions in the coming weeks. We have already seen an avalanche of rumours and transfers take place and things are only going to more wild from now on :)
Thanks for reading and hit me up if you have any questions or feedback :)