For this weekend’s football, we kick off in the Japanese J-League, where high-flying Yokohama F-Marinos visit Sanfrecce Hiroshima. From Japan, we pivot to a crucial CONCACAF Gold Cup face-off, with the USA squaring off against Jamaica. Then, it’s back to Japan for a J-League showdown between Shonan Bellmare and Sagan Tosu. Lastly, we’ll finish up in South Korea’s K League 2, where Gimpo host Jeonnam.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima v Yokohama F-Marinos
More club football is reintroduced back into our lives and we’re certainly glad for it, especially knowing the Japanese J-League has a full card of fixtures across the weekend. The standout match of the weekend comes when Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who are fifth, welcomes top of the table Yokohama F-Marinos, and it presents a welcome betting opportunity for us to get involved in.
The league leaders are not only the top dogs in the league right now, but over more recent times they are one of the form teams, too. It is four wins in successive in league action for Kevin Muscat’s side, which includes their epic 4-3 victory versus Kashiwa Reysol last time out when scoring goals in the 94th and 97th minutes to secure the points in dramatic fashion. They are actually rated as underdogs this weekend, which may present strong value in the eyes of many.
That is because Sanfrecce Hiroshima have been a little inconsistent of late and you’re never entirely sure what you’re going to get. One big reason for this is because they simply go for it in every game and looking across their results in recent months proves that quite dramatically. Across their previous 21 games in league and cup they have won 13 and lost 8 – meaning zero draws! To not draw a single match in that period is quite incredible. If we narrow it down though, they’ve won three and lost three of their latest nine matches, so form would indicate they shouldn’t be favourites here.
However, purely on home form it is perhaps understandable as they are rarely defeated at Edion Stadium Hiroshima. It is eight wins from their last ten here in all competitions, and as mentioned, they’ll go for it against the league leaders in the hope of making it five straight victories in front of their own supporters. Yokohama F-Marinos have the best home record in the league, but they’re not too shabby on the road. They’ve won four in five away in the league, which included a triumph at Vissel Kobe, who currently sit third in the table.
A look at the Expected Goals (xG) table also highlights a likely gung-go type of contest this weekend. Only Consadole Sapporo have greater xG figures that these two teams, but it is the Expected Goals Against (xGA) numbers that make for interesting reading. Despite being league leaders, Muscat’s side have an xGA number of 28.52. They’ve conceded 20, so they’ve had some fortune not conceding more, but this is the fourth-worst number of all teams in the league. It is the figure of a team battling relegation. On the flip side, Hiroshima have the best number in 13.54.
Despite the hosts being very strong defensively, goals is the way to go here. They’ll be facing the best team in the league and both will play to win this game. Over 3.00 Goals is available at 1.875 with Bet365, meaning four goals or more wins our bet, whereas three would result in our stake being returned. This selection is more based around Yokohama F-Marinos, who are strong in attack and take big chances at the back, evidently. Sanfrecce Hiroshima don’t normally see goals in their games, but we’ll chance it here knowing this could be more open than usual.
Shonan Bellmare v Sagan Tosu
Another Japanese J-League game on Saturday that catches the eye is Shonan Bellmare against Sagan Tosu. There is every reason to believe this could be one of the more entertaining clashes on the weekend card, and again it is a game that both will surely be looking to win. Shonan Bellmare have won just twice in the league all season and really need to get their act together, whilst Sagan Tosu are firmly in mid-table, and they’re keen to bounce back after a heavy 6-1 away defeat to Yokohama F-Marinos in the cup in midweek.
We’ll start with the hosts first and it really has been a season of struggle so far. They just cannot buy a league win at the moment, as we have to go all the way back to April 1st when they defeated Gamba Osaka 4-1 at home. Since then, it is four draws and six defeats but it maybe not so surprising they’re struggling. Since winning promotion to the top flight in 2017, they’ve finished between 12th and 18th, and now only goal difference is keeping them off the bottom of the table.
Sagan Tosu have been more of a mid-table team in recent years, so it is therefore no great shock to currently see them sitting 10th in the league standings. They’re actually in decent shape at the moment as they are six without loss in J-League action. It is just one defeat in five on the road as well, again in the league, so they’re not the sort of side to travel and shut up shot. That certainly shouldn’t be the case this weekend taking on a side that has conceded just shy of two goals per game on average in their last ten league battles.
The xGA numbers around these two teams does not present anything remotely like pretty viewing, as it turns out neither of these sides have been impressing from a defensive perspective. Only third-from-bottom Yokohama have a higher xGA number compared to these two teams. Sagan Tosu should have conceded nine goals more than they have done, so although they’re on a good unbeaten run it does paper over the cracks to a degree.
Another very surprising statistic revolves around the xG of Shonan Bellmare, which is the fourth-greatest in the division. This is a team sitting joint-bottom of the table, and yet on xG numbers alone they should be fourth in the table. Figure that one out! In their defence, they have scored 23 goals, which is the most goals scored by any team positioned 9th or below, but clearly they have bigger defensive problems. Sagan Tosu actually has the worst xG figure in the league, but facing a leaker defence should present more opportunities for goals.
I do like the look of Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals here, priced at 2.20 with 10Bet. Both teams are somewhat vulnerable defensively, and with the home team very aggressively offensively it would appear, this should leave them light defensively at times, meaning opposition counter attacks could be frequent. It is a winnable match for both teams, and there is no reason for a cagey game.
USA v Jamaica
It is that time folks! The CONCACAF Gold Cup is back, and reigning champions USA are going in search of their eight title in this competition. They open up their tournament facing Jamaica, with Trinidad & Tobago and Saint Kitts and Nevis forming Group A. Therefore, this opening clash is realistically likely to determine who will progress out of the group as group winners, with six points against the other two nations a strong possibility.
USA were recently successful in the CONCACAF Nations League to continue their recent success in that competition. However, there is a big difference in terms of players selected in the squad in comparison. A more experienced core of players was named for that, whilst it looks as though the main focus is on a younger crop for the Gold Cup. The likes of Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Antonee Robinson, Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson, to name a few, will play no part. It is still a solid squad, but now mostly a USA-based team, with some exceptions. On paper it is weaker, but the European-based players need a break, if their eyes.
If we take a look at the Jamaica squad, then it is the complete opposition. The Reggae Boyz have gone pretty much full strength as they look to secure a first-ever Gold Cup, having previously twice ended as runners-up in 2015 and 2017. On paper, you may argue it is stronger than USA, at least in terms of more familiar names across the globe. There is a strong Premier League presence in the team, including Leon Bailey, Michail Antonio, Demarai Gray and Ethan Pinnock. The one worry I’d have with that is will we see the best of these guys after very long seasons. They’d have only had a brief break and whilst they’re be determined to do well for their country, they won’t be at 100% peak condition.
As mentioned, USA are pretty dominant in this particular competition. USA tends to approach this competition by not picking their big-guns, so whilst they could have named a much stronger roster, this won’t come as a shock to supporters. They do have home advantage as well, which always counts for something in tournament football. Having a younger side full of players desperate to impress is no bad thing. Also, with a largely American-based team in terms of who they play for, these guys are conditioned given their respective leagues are in full swing. A Jamaica squad with many European-based players that haven’t played for a few weeks means USA has the advantage.
USA are odds-on favourites to win this game, which does undervalue Jamaica quite heavily given the quality they have, but with the reasons I’ve mentioned then a case is to be made for the price being fairly fair. Even so, I think it’ll be a closer match than the odds suggest, but with a significant enough of an edge to get USA on side. USA to Win and Under 4.5 Goals at 1.91 with SBK looks to be a great play. I was tempted with the Under 3.5 at better odds, but we’re still getting just shy of odds-on with 4.5.
This will be the opening game of the tournament and naturally, both will need a bit of time to settle into proceedings. USA has a new squad called up, and with the strongest players playing in the Nations League, it means this group haven’t had any warm-up games. Jamaica did have warm-up friendly games, but they didn’t have a number of their key players, seemingly to give them a rest ahead their club season ended. USA have a strong record in this competition, and with this already looking like a group decided in the opening game, they should get the job done at home.
Gimpo v Jeonnam
To round things up, we travel to South Korea for a K League 2 fixture between Gimpo and Jeonnam, and it is one of those intriguing matches that on paper gives us a nice way of approaching this from a betting perspective. Sixth against ninth in a 13-team league may seem like something of a mid-table battle but remember that fifth would get you in the play-offs, so Gimpo hold the advantage going into this one having a lazy look at the league table.
Gimpo are actually the joint-third lowest-scoring teams in the league despite their relatively lofty league position. Only the bottom two in the division has scored fewer goals than they have. There is no hard luck story in this regard either are Gimpo are ranked second-bottom of the xG count, and they’ve actually scored roughly three goals more than they should’ve done based on xG. However, it is their strong defensive showing that has got them where they are. They’ve shipped only eight goals in their 15 league games, which is clearly the best in the league. On the xGA count, Gimpo are also the best in K League 2. They’ve only lost twice this season, so they’re clearly hard to beat.
Jeonnam have something of a different approach to how they play the game. Only three teams in the league have conceded more goals than they have done, but the fact they’ve conceded six more goals than their xGA suggests means they’ve been a little unfortunate in that aspect. It is still way below the defensive standards of Gimpo however, who are just nailed to down to a tee. Jeonnam are ranked seventh in the xG count, which is roughly where they should be, but they’re coming up against a well-oiled machine this weekend and they’ll have to be at their best in terms of creativity.
One issue for Jeonnam is that they aren’t so strong away from home. They’ve lost their last five on their travels, losing 13-4 on the aggregate scoring of all five. On one hand, they’ll be quite glad to be facing a low-scoring opponent next, but as I keep mentioning, Gimpo defensively just won’t give too much away. On the flip side, Gimpo aren’t the best at home from a win perspective. A won two, drew four and lost one record is not surprising when you think about it. This is a defensive team, and being at home the exception is to take the game to the opponent, but clearly they don’t relish that too much. It is no surprise to see they’ve got one of the best away records in the league, which reads won five, drew two and lost one.
Gimpo therefore perhaps aren’t the most reliable from a win perspective playing at home. Tactically it may not suit based on my explanation above, particularly if Jeonnam decide to sit back given their recent struggles on the road. I don’t suspect it will be a high-scoring game however, and Gimpo seem to know how to avoid defeat in these close encounters. Only four of their 15 matches has featured three or more goals; their league games are averaging only 1.67 goals per game. With a close game likely, Gimpo Double Chance and Under 3 Goals is nicely priced at 2.15 with Bet365 for us to get on board. This has been a winning selection in 66.67% of their league matches this season.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima v Yokohama F-Marinos – Over 3.00 Goals (1.875 Bet365)
Shonan Bellmare v Sagan Tosu – Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 Goals (2.20 10Bet)
USA v Jamaica – USA to win and Under 4.5 Goals (1.91 SBK)
Gimpo v Jeonnam – Gimpo Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (2.15 Bet365)
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