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It is time to ring up the curtain for another season of Japanese Division 1 battles. Sanfrecce Hiroshima not only took home the JD1 championship last season, but also historically became the first Japanese team to be ranked among the top three in the Club World Cup.

Japanese Division 1 reinstated a three-stage system last season, in which Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Gamba Osaka and Urawa Reds qualified for the playoff rounds. Eventually, Sanfrecce Hiroshima overpowered Gamba Osaka to win the honour, while Toshihiro Aoyama was elected as last season’s Most Valuable Player.
Gamba Osaka recruited Ademilson Braga from Yokohama F.Marinos, in the hopes of reinforcing the squad after the setback during the previous season, as some key players, for instance, Endo Yasuhito and Yasuyuki Konno are not green to give great support anymore. Despite the unsatisfactory performances, Gamba Osaka are still regarded a hindrance on the defending journey of Hiroshima. Kawasaki Frontale’s 33-year-old striker, Yoshito Okubo, is still ambitious to play, which is best proven by his 23 goals produced in game last season, holding his top scorer title in hand. Shimizu S-Pulse had been over the hill in recent years and were relegated to JD2 last season together with Matsumoto Yamaga and Montedio Yamagata. Meanwhile, Omiya Ardija, Jubilo Iwata and Avispa Fukuoka have got promoted next season onwards.

Gamba Osaka started the season slowly last year. At the first stage of the season, they have scored no more than one goal in the first half in all 17 matches, meaning that the percentage of first half [Low] undoubtedly at 100%. Second stage of the season looked to be improved with only 10 matches recorded first half [Low]. However, Gamba Osaka have scored only 1 goal in the first half at the final stage.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima lost only 1 away game last season, which believed to be the best away team in J-League. They hold a good record on being awarded handicap advantage, winning 5 out of 6 games with HHAD[+1] at the first stage, also they have won all HHAD[+1] matches (total 2 matches) at the second stage, recording 7W1D0L in 8 matches, reflecting that Sanfrecce Hiroshima are not easy to defeat when being the underdog.

Urawa Red earned the J-League first stage top spot marvelously last season, and were unbeaten for the entire first stage season, including 9 wins for all home games. Nevertheless, they usually win with one goal difference and therefore HHAD[-1][Draw] has frequently landed.

They won first 5 home games consecutively by an exact 1 goal margin, meaning that the hitting rate of HHAD[Draw] is 100%. In recent opening seasons, Urawa Red have usually won by one goal margin, especially for the home games, they won 5 of their first 8 home matches with 1 goal difference in season 2014, they were also won the first two home games with 1 goal difference in season 2013.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima Champion   1 74   3 34   1 40  
Urawa Reds Third Place   2 72   1 41   4 31  
Gamba Osaka Second Place   3 63   4 32   3 31  
FC Tokyo -   4 63   2 35   6 28  
Kashima Antlers -   5 59   8 22   2 37  
Kawasaki Frontale -   6 57   5 30   7 27  
Yokohama F.Marinos -   7 55   6 26   5 29  
Shonan Bellmare -   8 48   10 22   9 26  
Nagoya Grampus -   9 46   9 22   10 24  
Kashiwa Reysol -   10 45   14 18   8 27  
Sagan Tosu -   11 40   11 20   12 20  
Vissel Kobe -   12 38   13 19   13 19  
Ventforet Kofu -   13 37   12 20   14 17  
Vegalta Sendai -   14 35   7 23   16 12  
Albirex Niigata -   15 34   17 14   11 20  
* Matsumoto Yamaga -   16 28   15 15   15 13  
* Shimizu S-Pulse -   17 25   18 13   17 12  
* Montedio Yamagata -   18 24   16 14   18 10  
# Omiya Ardija -   - -   - -   - -  
# Jubilo Iwata -   - -   - -   - -  
# Avispa Fukuoka -   - -   - -   - -  

* Relegated      # Promoted

Teams: 18
Competition System: 1st stage league, 2nd stage league and Championship

1st stage and 2nd stage league
Each stage consists of 17 rounds. Each team will face each other team once.

Point of the year
Combine 1st stage and 2nd stage totally consist of 34 rounds. Each team will face each other team twice (once home and once away).

When two or more teams are tied in the standings on points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss), the following tiebreakers will be used in the sequence below, until one team ranks ahead of the other(s):

(1) Goal difference
(2) Greater number of goals scored
(3) Head to head result between the teams concerned
(4) Foul Point
(5) Drawing of lots

  • The highest points team of the year will directly qualify to the Championship final.
  • The 2nd highest points team of the year, the 3rd highest points team of the year and the 1st places of each stage will qualify to the first rounds of the Championship.
  • If the 2nd highest points team of the year or the 3rd highest points team of the year is exactly the same team as the 1st place of 1st stage or 2nd stage, it can directly qualify to the semi-final.
  • The winners of the first rounds will qualify to semi-final and the winner of semi-final will qualify to the final. The first rounds and the semi-finals will be played as a single match. If two teams drawn in 90 minutes, the higher rank team in regular season will advance to next stage.
  • The final will be played on a two-leg basis in home and away matches, where away goals rule apply, if two teams drawn in two-leg matches with the same number of away goals, the higher rank team in regular season will be the champion.

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