Episode 253 - J2 Final Day Drama

November 21, 2018

After a tense final day of the J2 season, that saw Matsumoto crowned champions at the last, Stuart Smith, Jon Steele and Charlie Houghton returned to the pod to wrap up the thrilling, but hardly goal-packed, climax to the second tier campaign.

We begin by paying tribute to the champions, and their fellow automatically promoted side Oita, before moving on to wrap up the other games that had an impact on the playoff places. A preview of Sunday's first game of the playoffs between Omiya and Tokyo Verdy follows, before we finish by looking at the bottom two, and Japan's 1-1 draw with Venezuela last Friday.

#AUDIO ISSUE# A few times throughout the episode it appears my guests are speaking as if on speed, I'm pretty sure that wasn't the case, and have put it down to bugs in our four-way Skype connection.

Follow my guests on twitter:

Charlie - @FRsoccerCharlie

Jon - @J2KantoBites

Stuart - @sushi_football 

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Episode 252 - Kawasaki Are J1 Champions Again

November 15, 2018

Neil Debnam and Dan Orlowitz guest on this, our second episode of the week, to revel in Kawasaki's second straight J1 Championship.

We begin with events at the Yanmar Stadium on Saturday, where Frontale were crowned champions despite losing 2-1 to Cerezo Osaka, after Hiroshima's latest loss, at home against Sendai, secured them the title with two games to play. We move on to what the future might hold for Kawasaki, and what the coach Toru Oniki can do to take them forward next season (to 36:55).

We then move on to round up all of the other games from J1 Matchday 32 (to 53:00), and finish with mentions of the Emperor's Cup (to 56:20) and the Japan National Team.

Follow my guests on twitter:

Neil - @frontalerabbit

Dan - @aishiterutokyo 

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Episode 251 - Kashima’s ACL Triumph & J2 Climax

November 14, 2018

Sean Carroll, Jon Steele and Steve Barme guest on this, our first of two J-Talk podcasts this week.

In Part 1 Sean shares his fascinating experience of being pitchside at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran for the second leg of the ACL Final this past Saturday, when Kashima did the J.League proud by winning their first ever Asian Champions League title. Not for the squeamish, Sean's tales of being in the city in the lead up to the game are terrific, and he goes into great detail on the had-to-be-there atmosphere in one of the world's great sporting cauldrons. Oh, and bumping into Zico in the airport on his way home (to 28:30).

Then in Part 2, Jon Steele and Steve Barme recap Omiya's uninspiring season and the results for J2's top seven teams in the weekend's Matchday 41 (to 47:20), then from 59:00 we launch feet first into a preview of Saturday's final round, complete with predictions for the title and which of the top seven will miss out on the playoffs.

#PROGRAMMING NOTE# Part 2 of this episode was intended to be a celebration of Kawasaki's second straight J1 title, and Neil Debnam and Dan Orlowitz guested for a full hour on Tuesday night, but technical difficulties (me forgetting to press record) meant all that great chat vanished into the ether. Neil and Dan have kindly agreed to record again on Wednesday night, so a bonus, J1-only episode of J-Talk is coming later in the week (hopefully Thursday).

Follow my guests on twitter:

Sean - @seankyaroru

Jon - @J2KantoBites

Steve - @AgentOrange2009

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Episode 250 - ACL Final & J1 Matchday 31

November 6, 2018

On this, our 250th episode extravaganza, Scott McIntyre and Matt Davies-Adams guest after a big week of ACL and J1 action.

In Part 1 Scott chats about the terrific atmosphere and Kashima's strong performance in their 2-0 home win in the first leg of the ACL Final against Persepolis on Saturday, and also what awaits the Ibaraki side in the return leg at the cauldron of the Azadi Stadium this weekend (to 20:25). We then shift our attention to the top of J1, where Kawasaki look set to claim their second straight J1 title after their cruise over Kashiwa and Hiroshima's meltdown away at Iwata on Saturday (to 35:00). We follow on from that by discussing the results for teams still in contention for the third ACL spot (to 52:40).

Then in Part 2 Matt discusses Tosu's vital home win over rock-bottom Nagasaki on Sunday and Kobe's huge Lukas Podolski and Andres Iniesta-inspired win away at Nagoya on Saturday, and also the contrasting impacts Fernando Torres and Iniesta have had on their clubs since their arrivals in the summer.

Follow my guests on twitter:

Scott - @mcintinhos

Matt - @MattDaviesAdams 

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Episode 249 - Glory for Shonan & J2 Review

October 31, 2018

On this ripping new episode Sean Galbraith and Steve Fryer guest to review Saturday's Levain Cup Final, then Stuart Smith and Charlie Houghton chat all things J2.

In Part 1 Sean and Steve, who were at opposite ends of Saitama Stadium for Saturday's showpiece, discuss Shonan's impressive performance that saw them lift the league cup for the first time over an under-par Yokohama (to 22:10). We then chat about the run-ins for the two clubs, with both still involved in the #RelegationDogfight (to 37:35), before finishing with Kashima's incredible performance to make it through to their first ACL Final, the first leg of which they will host this Saturday against Persepolis from Iran (to 45:45).

Then in Part 2 Charlie (on debut) and Stuart review the key results from Sunday's J2 Matchday 39, that again saw a lot of movement in and around the top seven (to 1:19:35), before we assess the run-ins for the promotion and playoff contenders (to 1:28:50). We then switch our attention to the foot of the table, where Kyoto and FC Gifu took huge steps to survival with key wins on Sunday, while we also chat about the promotion playoffs format (to 1:46:35), and finish with a check on J3.

Follow my guests on twitter:

Sean - @1amSage

Steve - @ardija01talk

Stuart - @sushi_football

Charlie - @FRsoccerCharlie

And via their twitter account, check out the Gol Bezan podcast's terrific preview of the ACL Final.

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Episode 248 - J1 Matchday 30

October 24, 2018

On this week's episode of J-Talk Dan Orlowitz guests to round up all of the results from J1 Matchday 30, while there are also special appearances from our Kawasaki correspondent Neil Debnam, and our Grampus guy Adrian Serna, after huge wins for their respective teams over the weekend.

In Part 1 Neil joins us to talk about the thrilling spectacle that was Frontale's 5-3 home win over an increasingly desperate Kobe side on Saturday night that, coupled with Hiroshima's latest implosion, away at Shimizu, sees Kawasaki four points clear with four to play (to 30:05).

Then Dan and I cover wins for both Osaka clubs, and Urawa over Kashima (to 37:15), before Adrian joins us to chat about sitting in 'the yellow sea' (amongst the Kashiwa fans) and Nagoya's crunch 1-0 win at Reysol last Friday night, as well as his confidence that Grampus will still be in J1 in 2019. We also discuss Tosu, and their prospects now that Massimo Ficcadenti has been shown the door and Fernando Torres is back amongst the goals, while Adrian has concerns that the managerial merry-go-round at Kobe could doom them to finish in the bottom three (to 56:20).

From there Dan and I wrap up the other two games from the matchday (to 1:02:45), and look ahead to Saturday's Levain Cup final, Kashima's ACL semi final 2nd leg vs Suwon and the Emperor's Cup quarter finals, before finishing on a high by discussing Japan's terrific 4-3 win over Uruguay last week.

Follow my guests on twitter and the web:

Dan - @aishiterutokyo

Dan's archive at The Japan Times

Neil - @frontalerabbit

Neil's Frontale Rabbit blog

Adrian - @758adrian

K League United's ACL Writer's Chat - includes podcast at bottom of article

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Episode 247 - J2 Special October 2018

October 16, 2018

It's that time of the month again, when Stuart Smith and Jon Steele return for the latest of our J2 Specials.

We begin with the three all-top half clashes from the weekend's Matchday 37, and then run down the recent form and automatic promotion and playoff prospects for the current top seven. From 59:45 Stuart and Jon give their predictions for both races, and we bring you all you need to know on the implications of Machida (ineligible for promotion) finishing in the top two or top six. Part 1 runs to 1:07:20.

We then move on to a fruitful weekend for most of the bottom four, and their recent form, and from 1:24:50 Jon and Stuart give their predictions for the bottom two, with Part 2 running to 1:28:20.

From there its a check on J3 and FC Ryukyu's romp to the title, and also touch on how Numazu finishing in the top two of the third tier would affect relegation from J2 (to 1:33:55), then we finish with a look at the Levain Cup semi final results, and Japan's win over Panama last Friday night.

Follow my guests on twitter and the web:

Stuart - @sushi_football

Stuart's We Are Gifu blog

Jon - @J2KantoBites

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Episode 246 - J1 Matchday 29

October 10, 2018

Neil Debnam and Alan Gibson guest this week to round up of all the action from J1 Matchday 29, as the season enters the stretch run (but now has to take a two weeks off due to the international break).

We begin with the leaders Kawasaki and their hard-fought draw away at Kashima on Sunday, with a chat about J.League refereeing thrown in at no extra charge, while we also round up the thrilling first leg of the ACL semi final last Wednesday that saw Antlers fight back from two goals down to take a slender lead to Suwon for the return leg (to 20:50). We then turn our attention to Hiroshima, whose season appears to be crumbling under their feet after a stunning home battering at the hands of lowly Kashiwa (to 27:50).

Wins for FC Tokyo (yes, really!) and Yokohama are then discussed, followed by the draw between Sendai and Urawa (to 42:25), before we turn our attention to the two big #RelegationDogfight six-pointers from the matchday, with a focus on strugglers Tosu and Kobe (to 52:50).

Then its derby time, with Gamba triumphing in the Osaka edition, and Shimizu caning their Shizuoka rivals Iwata, before we crystal ball how the relegation picture will pan out (to 1:07:40), and finish with a quick chat on the Japan squad for their friendlies against Panama and Uruguay.

Follow my guests on twitter and the web:

Alan - @JSoccerMagazine

JSoccer.com

Neil - @frontalerabbit

Neil's Frontale Rabbit blog

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Episode 245 - J1 Matchday 28 & Kashima v Suwon Preview

October 2, 2018

Scott McIntyre and Scott Whitelock guest on this very special episode of J-Talk to round up the weekend's J1 Matchday 28, and look ahead to the first leg of Kashima's ACL semi final against Suwon of South Korea.

In Part 1 Scott McIntyre and I discuss Kawasaki taking over at the top flight summit after their win at Nagasaki, which followed another slip up by incumbents Hiroshima, this time away at Gamba Osaka. We also discuss the run-in for the top two, and the outlooks for both Gamba and Nagasaki, who were the bottom two when the matchday began (to 25:20). We then move on to Kashima's big day out at Kobe, and the deepening sense of crisis both on the pitch and in the dugout at Vissel (to 35:40).

Then Scott Whitelock, the Suwon correspondent for K League United, joins us to chat about the Bluewings' road to the ACL semis, their recent K League 1 form, and key players that Antlers will have to be wary of over the two legs. Plus, Scott tackles the age-old question: Does the ACL really mean more to Korean teams than it does to their J.League counterparts? (to 1:14:35)

Finally, in Part 3 Scott McIntyre and I finish our wrap of the typhoon-affected J1 matchday, and look ahead to how the top flight #RelegationDogfight may play out.

#AUDIO ISSUES# At times it does appear that Scott (McIntyre) might have been in the general vicinity of a helicopter, but I have it on good authority that might have had more to do with static on our Skype connection, which also got a bit tired towards the end, so it appears I cut him off a few times - as tempting as that can be, I'm pleading innocent and blaming it on Skype.

Follow my guests on twitter and the web:

Scott McIntyre - @mcintinhos

Scott Whitelock - @ScottySSBFC

K League United - On twitter

K League United - The website

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Episode 244 - J1 Matchday 27 & Groundhopping Special

September 25, 2018

In this bumper episode of J-Talk, Sam Robson guests to fill us in on all the goings-on in J1 Matchday 27, and then Chris Hough and Tobias Dreimann share their experiences of watching the J.League in our Groundhopping Special.

Sam and I begin with what is now shaping as a proper title race in the top flight, after Kawasaki continued to ramp up the pressure on leaders Hiroshima with another key victory against an in-form side (Nagoya), while Sanfrecce dropped points for the second straight week. We then look down the table, with half the league either in serious relegation strife or looking over their shoulders with seven games remaining (to 51:55).

Then Tobias returns, and Chris makes his J-Talk debut, to discuss their J.League watching experiences, Tobias having made several trips to Japan and working in a number of games on his travels, and Chris getting to almost 20 different grounds this year having made his J.League-watching bow on a cold Wednesday night up in Sendai in March. The guys share not only their favourite places to go, but also the nuts and bolts of planning a trip from scratch, right down to the nitty-gritty of buying tickets and finding places to stay. Hopefully, if you are thinking of taking the plunge and getting to a J.League stadium, advice from Chris and Tobias will come in handy.

Follow my guests on twitter and the web:

Sam - @FRSoccerSam

Chris - @LifJapan

Lost in Football Japan

Tobias - @condrei

Transfermarkt.com Japan

J.League Germany @jleagueDE

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