If there’s one team that can stop the Kashima Antlers juggernaut from steam-rolling to a third successive J. League title, it’s Kawasaki Frontale.
The Kanagawa side geared up for an epic showdown with Kashima on Sunday by beating Gamba Osaka 1-0 at Todoroki Stadium in a rescheduled Round 10 fixture overnight.
Youngster Yuji Yabu scored the only goal of the game, setting up a highly anticipated clash with runaway league leaders Kashima in four days time.
Kawasaki can cut the deficit at the top of Poker Online Indonesia standings to just five points with a win over Kashima, but Gamba’s title hopes look all but over after they lost to Kawasaki for the second time in a week.
The reigning Asian champions were knocked out of this year’s Champions League after Kawasaki beat Gamba 3-2 in a thriller at Expo ’70 Stadium on July 24.
Kashima Antlers were also knocked out of the Champions League on the same night – losing on penalties to South Korean club FC Seoul – but unlike Gamba, the Antlers look well placed to pick up another piece of silverware this season.
They hammered a disappointing Nagoya Grampus 3-0 in the evening’s other rescheduled fixture overnight, with midfielder Takuya Nozawa scoring either side of goals from strikers Shinzo Koroki and Marquinhos.
A full round of top flight fixtures takes place on the weekend of July 4/5, with the highlights seeing Omiya Ardija welcome Yokohama F. Marinos to Omiya Park, while the bottom two clash at Kyushu Oil Dome when Oita Trinita host JEF United in a relegation six-pointer.
On Sunday night, Nagoya Grampus host Gamba Osaka in a Toyota Stadium blockbuster, injury-riddled Sanfrecce Hiroshima take on Jubilo Iwata at Big Arch Stadium, while all eyes will be on Todoroki Stadium as Kawasaki Frontale welcome Kashima Antlers to town.
Caio Junior becomes the season’s first casualty
Vissel Kobe coach Caio Junior became the first J. League coach to exit his post this season when stepped down following the Kansai club’s latest 2-0 defeat away at Urawa Reds.
The Brazilian tactician arrived with impressive credentials, but the man last in charge of Brazilian giants Flamengo failed to endear himself to the Kobe faithful for his inability to win with a side that includes former Japan captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto.
The disastrous signings of compatriots Alan Bahia and on-loan Benfica forward Marcel contributed to Caio Junior’s unpopularity, and the Brazilian jumped before he was pushed, with Vissel Kobe currently lying fourteenth in the standings.
Masahiro Wada has stepped in to take charge on an interim basis, and his first match is the home clash with FC Tokyo this Saturday night.
Germans trounce favourites to win the prize
UEFA u21 Championship Final
Germany 4:0 England
Germany pricked the bubble surrounding Sturat Pearce’s England u21s by blanking them 4-0 in the UEFA u21 final in Malmo.
Werder Bremen’s Mesut Ozil, one of the best midifielders in the tournament, was the ringleader of the tormentors as Pearce’s dream of Euro glory once more foundered at Teutonic feet.
Leading 1-0 at the interval from an almost copycat goal of the one they scored against England in Halmstad, the Germans sat back in the second half and let the Three Lions monopolise possession, but picked them off with three killer counter-attacks, which left the final score appear like a rout had happened.
It had not. England enjoyed 60% of the ball and dominated proceedings in the second half, but had lost the verve they showed in the group stages and semi-final when leading Sweden 3-0 at half time. The yellow cards shown to Gabriel Agbonlahor, Fraizer Campbell and Joe Hart cost them dear in Malmo.
With no recognisable strikers left, Theo Walcott, baptised star of the show before the first game, was left forlorn up front in the middle, unable to physically dominate the defenders around him and shorn of decent through-balls to sprint after.
Then at the back, Watford’s Scott Loach was a less than adequate replacement for Hart. He was wrong-footed for Ozil’s swerving goal in the 48th minute and let Sandro Wagner’s 79th minute strike fly through his legs.
Germany however, played a tactically sound game, marked closely, defended en masse and did a textbook job in frustrating their more fancied opponents, waiting until England lost possession before raiding upfield.
A surprise then, as Sweden, Belarus and Italy had looked more impressive than the Germans beforehand, and a devastating loss for England, who had looked all set from day one to bring home their first u21 trophy since 1984.
After Italia ’90 and Euro ’96, Pearce’s run of misfortune against the Germans goes on.
GER – Castro 23′
GER – Ozil 48′
GER- Wagner 79′
GER – Wagner 84′
Germany- Neuer, Beck, Howedes, Boateng, Boenisch, Hummels (Aogo 83′), Johnson (Schwaab 68”), Castro, Khedira, Ozil (Schmelzer 89), Wagner.
England – Loach, Cranie (Gardner 80′), Richards, Onuoha (Mancienne 46′), Gibbs, Cattermole, Muamba (Rodwell 77′), Noble, Milner, Walcott, Johnson.