Sanfrecce Hiroshima Well Placed To Lift J-League Crown In 2018?

Sanfrecce Hiroshima have been one of Japan's standout football clubs in recent times. With three J.League titles since 2012, Sanfrecce are used to competing at the top of Japanese football. However, they finished down in 15th position last season – a result that ultimately cost former boss Hajime Moriyasu his job. The former Japan midfielder had been in charge since 2012 and it was a real shame to see Sanfrecce struggle.

Since then, Hiroshi Jofoku has taken over at the helm and Sanfrecce have flourished. The three-time J.League champions are sitting pretty at the top of the table, having lost just three of their 17 regular season fixtures so far this year. It would take a brave man to back against Sanfrecce given their dominance in recent months – FC Tokyo are currently five points off the pace with exactly 14 matches remaining.

 Sanfrecce’s rise to prominence has been incredible to watch. They survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, securing their J1 status by a single point at the expense of Ventforet Kofu, the former club of not only Jofuku, but Sanfrecce players Sho Sasaki, Sho Inagaki and Yoshifumi Kashiwa as well. Jofoku has had an instant impact since taking over at EDION Stadium, and plenty of punters will be backing Sanfrecce to go on and lift the J1 title at the end of the campaign.

If you look directly at the J1 table, you notice Sanfrecce’s statistics instantly. Only one team has scored more goals than Sanfrecce so far this season whilst they also  boast the joint-best defensive record in Japan’s top flight. You won’t find too many Japan football fans arguing against them if they do go on to win the title. It has been a season to remember for Sanfrecce fans and it might be about to get even better…

Brazilian forward Patric leads the way at the top of the J1 goalscoring charts and he has been a revelation for Sanfrecce this year. Patric has notched 15 goals in 20 appearances in 2018 – the best record of his professional career. To put his efforts into perspective, the Brazilian had scored 28 goals in 95 matches before the start of this season. Patric’s form has helped the club to maintain the gap at the top of the table.

At the time of writing, Sanfrecce are in control of their own destiny and punters will be keeping a close eye ontheir title odds in the coming weeks. The latest J-League betting has Sanfrecce as red hot favourites to win their upcoming fixture but that is hardly surprising; Jofoku’s side are usually fancied to prevail in most of their league games. FC Tokyo closed the gap in July but Sanfrecce should regroup ahead of the business end of the campaign.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima are the strongest team in Japan by some distance and the J1 title looks destined to return to EDION Stadium. You won’t find too many fans writing the league leaders off at this moment in time – they have been on a higher level than most of their domestic rivals. Watch this space, a fourth title since 2012 beckons.


 

 

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J1 Standings

 

. Team Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 Sanfrecce 41 13 2 2 26 8 18
2 FC Tokyo 34 10 4 3 27 15 12
3 Frontale 33 10 3 4 25 13 12
4 Consadole 27 7 6 4 21 19 2
5 Cerezo 27 7 6 4 21 20 1
6 Vissel 25 7 4 6 24 20 4
7 Antlers 25 7 4 6 23 21 2
8 Vegalta 25 7 4 6 20 26 -6
9 S-Pulse 24 7 3 7 24 22 2
10 Jubilo 23 6 5 6 18 18 0
11 Bellmare 22 6 4 7 21 23 -2
12 Urawa Reds 21 5 6 6 16 15 1
13 F.Marinos 20 5 5 7 33 31 2
14 Reysol 20 6 2 9 21 26 -5
15 V.Varen 17 5 2 10 21 28 -7
16 Gamba 15 4 3 10 15 25 -10
17 Sagan Tosu 14 3 5 9 15 23 -8
18 Grampus 10 2 4 11 15 33 -18

J2 Standings

. Team Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 Fagiano 16 5 1 1 8 2 +6
2 Zelvia 15 4 3 0 11 6 +5
3 Trinita 14 4 2 1 15 7 +8
4 Renofa 14 4 2 1 15 10 +5
5 Verdy 13 3 4 0 9 3 +6
6 Roasso 12 4 0 3 11 11 0
7 Hollyhock 11 3 2 2 9 5 +4
8 Albirex 11 3 2 2 8 6 +2
9 Avispa 11 3 2 2 9 8 +1
10 YokohamaFC 11 3 2 2 7 9 -2
11 Zweigen 9 2 3 2 10 7 +3
12 Vortis 9 3 0 4 7 9 -2
13 Ventforet 8 2 2 3 7 7 0
14 Yamaga 7 1 4 2 9 10 -1
15 JEF United 7 2 1 4 12 14 -2
16 FCGifu 7 2 1 4 11 13 -2
17 Ardija 7 2 1 4 10 12 -2
18 TochigiSC 7 2 1 4 8 15 -7
19 Montedio 6 1 3 3 8 12 -4
20 Sanga 6 1 3 3 6 10 -4
21 EhimeFC 6 2 0 5 5 11 -6
22 Kamatamare 4 1 1 5 5 13 -8

J3 Standings

. Team Pts GP W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 Gainare 13 5 4 1 0 11 5 +6
2 AzulClaro 12 4 4 0 0 8 0 +8
3 FCRyukyu 10 5 3 1 1 11 8 +3
4 Gamba U23 10 5 3 1 1 10 8 +2
5 Fukushima 10 5 3 1 1 6 4 +2
6 Cerezo U23 9 4 3 0 1 6 3 +3
7 Blaublitz 6 5 2 0 3 4 4 0
8 Fujieda 6 5 2 0 3 6 9 -3
9 Parceiro 5 4 1 2 1 4 4 0
10 YSCC 5 5 1 2 2 7 8 -1
11 Kagoshima 4 4 1 1 2 5 5 0
12 Grulla 4 5 1 1 3 6 8 -2
13 Giravanz 4 4 1 1 2 4 6 -2
14 Thespa 4 4 1 1 2 3 5 -2
15 Tokyo U23 3 5 1 0 4 4 9 -5
16 Kataller 3 5 1 0 4 6 12 -6
17 Sagamihara 2 4 0 2 2 7 10 -3