Rabu, 06 Juli 2011

Urawa Reds in trouble as J. League nears halfway point

The nightmare continues for Saitama giants Urawa Reds after they were held to a scoreless draw away at fellow strugglers Montedio Yamagata overnight.

The Reds have recorded three straight draws since beating bottom club Avispa Fukuoka in June, leaving coach Zeljko Petrovic's side languishing in fifteenth.

It's a far cry from the halcyon days when Urawa regularly challenged for the title and to make matters worse, Petrovic has seen veteran Brazilian striker Edmilson depart for Qatari club Al-Gharafa. The Reds have signed towering Serb striker Ranko Despotovic as his replacement, but the Serbian international will need to make an immediate impact if Urawa are to haul themselves clear of the relegation zone.

The J. League table as of July 7 sees promoted Chiba side Kashiwa Reysol lead the way from Yokohama F. Marinos and surprise package Vegalta Sendai at the top of the standings. Perennial title challengers Gamba Osaka and Kashima Antlers sit back in the pack having played two games less than many of their opponents, while hapless trio Ventforet Kofu, Montedio Yamagata and Avispa Fukuoka are overwhelming favourites to go down to J2.

Highlight weekend fixtures include Vegalta Sendai travelling to a sold-out Hitachi Stadium to take on Kashiwa Reysol, Ventforet Kofu hosting regional rivals Shimizu S-Pulse and high-flying Sanfrecce Hiroshima welcoming Cerezo Osaka to Big Arch Stadium.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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