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Saturday, March 3, 2007

J. LEAGUE 2007


Urawa Reds

Staff writer

Last season: 1st

Manager: Holger Osieck (Germany)

Prospects: First priority is the Asian Champions League, but a spectacular double is not out of the question.

One to watch: Takahito Soma, a stylish wing back who can finally emerge from Alex Santos' shadow.

Guido Buchwald is gone, replaced by former coach Osieck, although assistant coach Gert Engels is still there. Engels said recently the new coach is more of an "in-the-stands" coach, whereas Buchwald was a "dugout" man, meaning Osieck has a more technical approach compared to Buchwald's reliance on motivation.

Reds have hardly moved a muscle in the transfer market, although their one big addition -- Yuki Abe from JEF United Chiba -- should turn a strong midfield into a formidable one. It should also give Reds a free-scoring midfielder they've been craving. Abe scored 11 goals last year and so Urawa may not need to rely so much on Washington.

Urawa has lost Alex to Red Bull Salzburg, if only for a season, and although inconsistent he weighed in with some important, and spectacular, goals and will be missed.

Where could it all go wrong? Well, central defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka, last season's MVP with an ego to match, could get too big for his boots and start eyeing a midseason move to Europe -- or even Brazil.

The spectacularly immobile Washington also could lose the remnants of what little pace he has and become literally rooted to the spot on the Saitama Stadium halfway line. (J.M)

See related stories:
Osim Jr. feels the pressure
Captain Sato wants 3rd cup triumph
S-Pulse's Fujimoto eyes national team
Manager Oliveira places faith in forwards
Vissel Kobe coach Matsuda welcomes changing of the guard
German Osieck embraces Reds challenge
Sef tips Grampus young guns

Urawa Reds Kawasaki Frontale Gamba Osaka
Shimizu S-Pulse Jubilo Iwata Kashima Antlers
Nagoya Grampus Eight Oita Trinita Yokohama F. Marinos
Sanfrecce Hiroshima JEF United Chiba Omiya Ardija
FC Tokyo Albirex Niigata Ventforet Kofu
Yokohama FC Kashiwa Reysol Vissel Kobe

J. League Schedule J. League Soccer

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