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Friday, March 5, 2010


Vissel Kobe

Staff writer

Team-by-team previews of the 18 teams competing in the first division.

Last season: 14th

Vissel's late form last year was so awful that about the only thing that saved them from relegation was the fact that the end of the season meant there were no more games to lose.

A decent start to the campaign put enough points in the bank to survive, but Kobe's offseason transfer business has done little to suggest a change is around the corner.

South Korean midfielder Kim Nam Il heads an extensive list of departures, with Brazilians Edmilson and Popo the highest-profile new faces. Decent though both players are, it is worth noting that they are also the wrong side of 30 and arriving fresh from relegation with their previous clubs.

An injection of youth in an otherwise craggy team might have been wiser, and it will again be left to Yoshito Okubo to shoulder the burden. The striker's abortive stint at Wolfsburg was Vissel's gain, but manager Toshiya Miura must make sure his star man maintains his cutting edge among teammates that cannot match his talents.

The current Vissel side does not look like its legs can hold out for much longer, and an extensive overhaul will be needed eventually.

Previews continued:

Yokohama F. Marinos

Jubilo Iwata

Kyoto Sanga

Omiya Ardija

Vissel Kobe

Montedio Yamagata

Vegalta Sendai

Cerezo Osaka

Shonan Bellmare

Kashima Antlers

Kawasaki Frontale

Gamba Osaka

Sanfrecce Hiroshima

FC Tokyo

Urawa Reds

Shimizu S-Pulse

Albirex Niigata

Nagoya Grampus

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