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Preview: Tokyo Verdy vs. Nagoya Grampus – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s J1 League clash between Tokyo Verdy and Nagoya Grampus, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two teams separated by just three points in the middle of the J1 League table will do battle on Saturday, as Tokyo Verdy welcome Nagoya Grampus to the Ajinomoto Stadium.

The visitors have dropped to ninth spot following a three-match unbeaten streak, while their 11th-placed hosts failed to capitalise last time out, suffering a defeat of their own.

Match preview

Tokyo Verdy return to action on Saturday aiming to bounce back to winning ways and crack the top half in the J1 League, having suffered a setback last time out.

On their return to Japan’s top flight for the first time since 2008, Verdy have certainly enjoyed a creditable start, amassing 24 points from their first 18 outings having won five of those while only suffering four defeats, including an impressive 11-match unbeaten streak between mid-March and mid-May.

That was eventually ended by a 5-0 thrashing away at Machida Zelvia, but the newly-promoted outfit would then produce their fourth and fifth victories of the season consecutively, beating Vissel Kobe and Consadole Sapporo 1-0 and 5-3 respectively with Yudai Kimura and Itsuki Someno netting braces against the latter.

Aiming to make it three wins on the bounce and break into the top 10, Hiroshi Jofuku‘s side most recently visited Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday, but they came away empty-handed due to a 4-1 beating, with Kimura’s injury-time goal nothing more than a consolation after a Pieros Sotiriou brace and goals from Mutsuki Kato and Douglas Vieira had the hosts 4-0 up.

While they will be disappointed by the manner of that defeat, Tokyo Verdy do remain 11th in J1 League with just a one-point gap up to 10th-Urawa Red Diamonds and a three-point gap up to Saturday’s visitors, and they will now set out to rebound from last weekend and take a top-half spot with a return to winning ways.

In their way stand a Nagoya Grampus side who will also bid to get back to winning ways in order to extend that three-point gap after suffering a slight dip in form in recent weeks.

Following a sixth-placed finish last term, the Grampus Eight took up a relatively pleasing position after 15 games of the new campaign, picking up back-to-back victories to move onto 25 points in mid-May.

They have been unable to extend that run since, though, adding just two more points to their tally in three further attempts as they firstly held Kyoto Sanga to a 1-1 draw at home before visiting Kawasaki Frontale and suffering a 2-1 defeat as a result of Akihiro Ienaga‘s early brace.

Then on the back of a 2-1 aggregate win over Kashiwa Reysol in the J-League Cup Playoffs and an exit from the Emperor’s Cup at the hands of Japan SC, Kenta Hasegawa‘s side most recently hosted Shonan Bellmare on Sunday and again settled for a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw, as Kensuke Nagai had them ahead in the first half and Kosuke Onose levelled for the visitors on the hour mark.

As a result of their disappointing run in recent weeks, Nagoya Grampus have now dropped out of the top five in the J1 League and down to ninth spot, but with Sanfrecce Hiroshima still just two points better off, Cereza Osaka and Avispa Fukuoka one ahead and FC Tokyo only leading on goal difference, they can quickly improve their standing again with a ninth league win of the season at the weekend.

Tokyo Verdy J1 League form:

Tokyo Verdy form (all competitions):

Nagoya Grampus J1 League form:

Team News

Tokyo Verdy should again line up in a 3-4-3 shape on Saturday with Yudai Kimura continuing to lead the line, having already notched up nine J1 League goals this season, a tally only topped by three others in the division.

He will have support from Itsuki Someno, who has chipped in with six of his own in the Japanese top flight, while Goki Yamada will also hope to keep his place in the attack amid competition from Hiroto Yamami and Yuan Matsuhashi.

Captain and key midfielder Koki Morita missed their trip to Sanfrecce Hiroshima last weekend, and if he remains absent Tomoya Miki and Kosuke Saito will likely continue in the centre while Naoki Hayashi, Kaito Chida and Hiroto Taniguchi should again line up in a back three.

Nagoya Grampus are set to remain without Danish attacker Kasper Junker on Saturday, with the forward having been ruled out of last weekend’s meeting with Shonan Bellmare due to a hamstring injury.

Instead, veteran Kensuke Nagai will continue to take on plenty of responsibility going forward, having netted a team-high tally of five league goals so far this term, while Patric will also fight to come into the front line from the outset after Yuya Yamagishi was preferred last time out.

Tsukasa Morishima will offer further attacking support, while Sho Inagaki and Keiya Shiihashi are bound to continue their partnership in the engine room.

Tokyo Verdy possible starting lineup:
Vidotto; Hayashi, Chida, Taniguchi; Onaga, Saito, Miki, Inami; Someno, Kimura, Yamami

Nagoya Grampus possible starting lineup:
Langerak; Yoshida, Ha, Nogami; Nakayama, Inagaki, Shiihashi, Yamanaka; Morishima, Nagai; Yamagishi

SM words green background

We say: Tokyo Verdy 1-2 Nagoya Grampus

While Nagoya Grampus have lacked consistency recently, they will back themselves to make a return to winning ways and lay the foundations for an improved run against their newly-promoted hosts on Saturday, and we see them having enough to take all three points.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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