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Saturday, March 6, 2010
2010 J. LEAGUE PREVIEW
Team-by-team previews of the 18 teams competing in the first division.
Last season: fourth
Few saw Sanfrecce's fourth-place finish coming last season, not least because it arrived on the back of promotion from the second division.
Mihailo Petrovic's side came up with all guns blazing and a fast, fluid style that was too much for many established J1 teams to handle, ably spearheaded by striker Hisato Sato and anchored by the imperious Ilian Stoyanov.
The Bulgarian's positional nous allowed fellow defender Tomoaki Makino to rampage forward and plunder eight goals, while Croatian Mihael Mikic had few problems adapting in his first J. League season.
The question now is whether Sanfrecce's attack can maintain its swashbuckling panache in the wake of playmaker Yosuke Kashiwagi's departure to Urawa Reds.
Masato Yamazaki and Satoru Yamagishi look like useful squad additions, but neither can come close to matching Kashiwagi's creative impudence.
The strains of competing in the Asian Champions League will also present problems, and the specter of last season's 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Kawasaki Frontale may also haunt the team if the going starts to get tough.
New goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa should help avoid such aberrations, but Sanfrecce will still find it hard to match last season's achievements.