CWC: Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Urawa Reds bring the J League to the limelight

Urawa Reds, Japanese champions of the Asian Champions League take on Sepahan, the Iranian champions. Sepahan blew by Waitakere in the opening game, 3-1. The showdown this Monday will be a replay of the ACL final between the Reds and Sepahan which was won by the 2006 J-League champions, 3-1 on aggregate.
Urawa Reds is hoping a good performance in the CWC will put Japanese club soccer in the forefront. Their defence was recently bolstered by the return of J League player of the 2006 season, Marcus Tulio Tanaka, the inspirational leader of the Reds. Tanaka played a prime role in Urawa’s success against Sepahan as he kept their defence busy with his aerial prowess.
Holger Osieck’s team’s attack revolves around two Brazilians, midfielder Robson Ponte and striker Washington who have linked up to score a number of goals. Ponte is known for his dead ball skills and pinpoint passes while Washington scores a number of goals through the air. Washington’s strike partner is the quicksilver Yuichiro Nagai, who has provided the Reds with some great opportunistic goals.
Ponte, the attacking midfielder is free to roam because the backfield is admirably organized by Japanese international Keita Suzuki, whose play reminds one of Claude Makele. Suzuki is partnered by veteran defender Keisuke Tsuboi, who has 40 caps for the national team. Yuki Abe, the most versatile Reds player gives many dimensions to the Reds being employed by Osieck as a left wingback, or at central defence, and at other times as a midfielder adept at penetrating through the middle. He also excels at free kicks. Abe scored the second goal in the ACL finals to give the Reds the championship.

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