Here I was enjoying my Wednesday afternoon, messaging Jake about upcoming content etc. and then he hits me with the message ‘Can we have a piece about the cup in Japan?’, now I am going to say something that may take you by surprise, I am definitely not the most knowledgeable when it comes to Japanese football, so I didn’t have a clue about there being a cup competition taking place, never mind it being the last game in the group stages.   

Now I was going to do a report on every game that took place, thinking it was a standard cup tournament format and then I found out there was a group stage to start off with, so to save you from having to read my below average reports for each game, I’m going to quickly list all the results and then choose a couple games that actually meant a fair amount. Then, at the end, I’ll tell you which teams have qualified and give you my pick for winning the competition. Sound good? Great, let’s get to it.   

Group Stage Round 6 Results:   

Group A:   

FC Tokyo 0-1 Vegalta Sendai   

Yokohama F. Marinos 2-1 Albirex Niigata   

Group B:    

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 0-3 Shimizu S-Pulse    

Ventforet Kofu 0-1 Jubilo Iwata    

Group C:    

Gamba Osaka 1-4 Nagoya Grampus Eight    

Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima    

Group D:    

Shonan Bellmare 2-0 V-Varen Nagasaki    

Vissel Kobe 1-1 Sagan Tosu    

Right, there we have it, the final results of the group stage. We can say, without a doubt, that the two biggest surprises of the group stages came from Group C. Nagoya actually won a game, yes, I did just say that and not only did they win, they crushed Gamba Osaka 4-1, it’s actually unbelievable. They went into halftime 3-1 up after goals from Hiroto Hatao, Kenta Uchida and Shunto Kodama pretty much killed the game off. However, Nagoya were enjoying themselves too much to stop and a final goal from Uchida completed a rampant win for Nagoya. Shame they couldn’t do this in the league.   

Speaking of form in the league, it seems the form goes out the window as league leaders Hiroshima fell to a 1-0 loss against Urawa. This defeat meant that Hiroshima missed out on the top two spots and have been eliminated from the competition. Even more embarrassing, they only managed to finish a point above Nagoya and they lost to them 4-1 earlier on in the competition.  Oh well, at least they can focus on the league.   

There was one hell of a game over in Group D, a literal winner takes all game between Shonan Bellmare and V-Varen Nagasaki. Both teams were level on points heading into the game and funnily enough had the same goal difference, not like that mattered. As you can see from the results above, Shonan came out victorious, with first-half goals from Jin Hanato and Suzuki Kunitomo. Nagasaki never really got into the game and seemed like they didn’t care about qualifying, which is strange.    

Teams Through & My Choice    

The teams that have successfully made it through to the knockout stage are; Vegalta Sendai, Yokohama, Jubilo Iwata, Ventforet Kofu, Urawa Red, Gamba Osaka, Vissel Kobe and Shonan Bellmare. Congratulations to these teams and I look forward to the rest of the competition. However, I won’t leva you there, I am now going to attempt to pick this years winners. Before you say that I have cheated because I have waited until after the group stages, then I can only apologise, like I said I had no clue this competition had started and thankfully, Jake did something right for once and made me aware of the tournament.    

Anyway, the team I have chosen to win is Vissel Kobe. Now I know what you are thinking, oh, you have only chosen them because of Podolski. Well yes, of course, I have but they also might be adding Iniesta to that side and no one is going to be stopping them once him and Podolski partner up. I genuinely cannot wait.   

That’s it from me and the League Cup until after the World Cup finishes as Japan decided to go and qualify for the damn thing, forgetting that most of us wanted to see Iniesta in the J-League sooner rather than later. Oh well, I can wait…  

Thanks for reading the whole article, as a reward you can look back on last weekends J-League action here (Kawasaki Bounce Back, Hiroshima March On And More From The J-League) and then you can brush up on your Guam football knowledge here (Nearly there for Benfica and Kitchee as Guam has league action again)