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Thursday, March 1, 2007
J. LEAGUE 2007
TEAM BY TEAM ANALYSIS
Last season: Promoted as J2 champion
Manager: Takuya Takagi: "We want to make the Yokohama derby the biggest derby match in Japan. We want to play with our hearts, and I am sure we can take the game to teams like Yokohama F. Marinos."
Prospects: Relegation playoff
One to watch: Adriano, playmaker who has solid European experience.
Forward Tatsuhiko Kubo and midfielder Daisuke Oku have both arrived from Yokahama F. Marinos, although how effective Kubo can be depends on whether his porcelain-like legs can hold up.
Right-sided playmaker Adriano, who has played for Nagoya Grampus Eight before, has arrived from Switzerland's FC Thun on loan, armed with Champions League experience. Other Brazilians arriving on loan are defender Anderson Santos Silva and midfielder Silva.
A big blow is the loss of their two top scorers last season. Alemao, who scored 18 goals, has been let go, while former star national team player Shoji Jo -- 12 last year -- retired at the young age of 31 after helping Yokohama FC become the J2 champion.
Yokohama FC has an aging side all in all -- Kazuyoshi Miura is still present -- and while that experience may have been enough last season, another year on playing at a higher level may take its toll on some tired legs.
Expect a bright start and then a freefall into the relegation zone, although the midseason break may temper the toils of a long season.
A lot may be forgiven, though, if they can get results against Marinos.
"I always look forward to playing against the big teams, but I am really looking forward to the derby," veteran midfielder Motohiro Yamaguchi told The Japan Times last week. "Marinos is an opponent we have to beat."