This post is the the second part of my predicted final table for the 2022 J1 League Season. You can find part one here
As a reminder, I have decided that what was more important than the precise final position of each team, was the general area in the table I saw each team fighting for.
The table is divided into 4 areas/colours:
Green (Top 5) - Title chasing teams
Peach (6-9) - ACL potential/Upper midtable
Orange (10-13) - Lower Midtable/Relegation
Red (14-18) - Relegation candidates
For each team, I will be giving a general narrative of my views on them. I will also pick out Key Players who are those I see in the strongest X11/starting most of the season. I will also pick out Ones to watch which will include a mix of young players and players who have transferred/returning from injury.
This post will look at who I predict will come 6-10th.
The final post will do the rest of the teams
Predicted Final Table for J1 League 2022
6) Nagoya Grampus
Nagoya had a very mixed season last year. At one stage they were looking strong in 3 cups and on course for top 4 finish. The League Cup win somewhat masked an otherwise disappointing end of the season where they failed to get into the ACL which would have been a top priority for them.
The off season has seen a change in management with Ficcadenti leaving and Hasegawa joining. There have been a few changes over the winter break, with Yonemoto being the main surprise exit and Maeda leaving for Europe (though sadly injured long term on his debut). Sento was an excellent buy and I expect him to start this season after an impressive training camp.
The team was rocked by the news that striker Jakub Świerczok had tested positive for PED and his situation still is unknown. With him out the team look very much lacking a striker with Kakitani not impressing last year.
I feel Nagoya will have there moments & are a solid team but this year feels somewhat like a transition year where I think 6th - 10th is more likely than a top 4 charge.
Key Players - Langerak, Nakatani, Inagaki, Yoshida, Mateus
Langerak has had the most clean sheets in the league for the past 2 years and him alongside Nakatami especially will be again vital for the team.
Inagaki has unsurprisingly been made the captain, he is the teams engine and I expect another magnificent season from him.
One to watch - Sento, Fujii, Soma, Maruyama
Hasegawa is more attack minded than his predecessor and this will suit the likes of Soma and Mateus in particular. Another player that has been getting a lot of praise is the 21 year old CB Haruya Fujii who I can see getting more game time this year.
Maruyama was excellent & one of the best CBs on sorare in Asia before his long term injury last year. He has recovered and is training at the moment though its unknown if he is fit enough to play and what the new managers plans are.
7) FC Tokyo
Similar to Nagoya, there has been some major changes at the club with a new manager, Albert Puig and also new owners with the social media giant MIXI.
There have been a few transfers into the club with Slowik and Trevisan being the most noticeble. I expect Slowik to play instead of Hatano and he has impressed me in the footage ive seen of the training camp.
Puig is known for being tactically astute, trusting in young players and playing fast, passing football. It is still unknown who this will favour in the team but could provide opportunities for players like Konno.
This year feels like the foundation year where stability and the clubs identity will be formed. I expect to see a a stop start season with glimpses of quality when things do click. However, I cant see FC Tokyo being consistent enough to compete for a top 4 finish.
Key Players - Morishige, Abe, Higashi, Leandro, Adailton, Oliveria
Morishige will be key to the success for FC Tokyo, he was one the leagues top 5 defenders in terms of interception/clearance last year. Leandro had his well publicised feud with the ex manager and also the notorious elbow against Nakatani. However, he is also the most skilful and game changing player for the club.
Oliveria was made deputy captain and despite his critics, can see him playing most of the games this season. Jury is still out on him long term and if he fits into the new managers plans
Ones to watch - Matsuki, Konno, Yamashita, Abe
FC Tokyo have a collection of bright young players with Matsuki one of the most exciting rookies moving up from high school level. There has been talk of him starting from the first game and he certainly does suit Puigs style.
Outside this, I can see Abe flourishing in this setup and potentially a more attacking role. Yamashita and Konno are both big talents and may not always be starters but can see them getting much more game time this year esp Konno who has now fully recovered from a bad injury that ruled him out of most of last year.
8) Consadole Sapporo
There have been minimal changes at Sapporo, with the biggest loss no doubt being Chanthip to Frontale. They did however pick up Gabriel Xavier in a surprising transfer and I feel he will do well this season for them as has excellent delivery and was hard done by with gametime at Nagoya imo.
Koroki and Nishi were also solid additions that bring experience. I think overall, they will perform similar to last season so midtable is likely.
Key Players - Fukumori, Tanaka, Takmine, Kaneko, Xavier
Fukumori has the potential to notch up 100s on sorare and is well know for his freekicks. Tanaka is another solid CB with Kaneko and Xavier offering alot of attacking options
Ones to watch - Suga, Koroki, Ogashiwa
Suga will benefit from Chanathip leaving and will have a much bigger role this year. Ogashiwa attracted interest from europe and this feels like his make or break season. Koroki is a J1 League fan favourite, who is renowned for his finishing. Its still not known if he will be a starter but his finishing could be exactly what Sapporo are looking for as they did lack the killer touch last season.
9) Gamba Osaka
Last season was an awful season for Gamba right from the start with a COVID outbreak leading to the postponement of a number of games. Having ACL commitments alongside having to fit all the rearranged postponed games into a short space of time led to the team struggling to find any rhythm and fighting a relegation battle rather than chasing a top 4 finish which was was expected from them.
They have brought in Katanisaka from Oita Trinita to manage them and maintained the core of their players, fending of interest for Miura and Usami. The team feels stable but lacks a potent striker and playmaker. I feel this will be a year of building a foundation and will lead to a likely mid table finish which I think most fans will take!
Key Players - Usami, Shoji, Miura, Higashiguchi, Yamamoto
Usami is no question the biggest star for Gamba. I was impressed by the way he ended the season and he seemed motivated to prove a point after some criticism of him and Gamba. For Sorare he is very consistant with his scoring and is on set pieces which is a huge positive for assist opporunities.
Shoji was one of a number of the Gamba players that exhausted himself after player so many games early in the season. He will have had a decent chance to get back to match fitness this preseason and is a player I really rate no only in real life but as he suits the sorare matrix. I feel the Gamba defence will be key to bringing stability to the team and allow Katanosaka to instil his mantra onto the players.
Yamamoto also had an excellent second half of the season and was often the most dynamic player for Gamba. Can see him continuing to excel this year esp with Iedeguchi gone
Ones to watch - Yamami, Leandro Pereira
Yamami scored some spectacular goals last year and more is expected from the youngster this year. Pereira was injured often last year and is now in training looking to get ready for the first game. If he is fit for that is still uknown but he is a player that could take over from Patric - though the same has been said for a couple of years but Patric is still continually proving his critics wrong with the number of goals he scores.
I hope you found this post useful . I will be posting the final part tomorrow alongside the predicted teams for each game.
For an intro to the J1 League you can find it here
I have also reviewed the 2021 season here
There are also a number of posts around strategy/how I pick players for Sorare in my blog here
I am always more than happy to talk things J1 League & Sorare on twitter or Discord
Click below for the J League Sorare Discord channel: