J2 2021 Predicted Lineups

**Important Update**Important Update**Important Update**

Please check out the link above to see who’s been playing and who hasn’t. I’ll keep it updated regularly.

They key is shown below.

Also for anyone using the site for data, here is a brief English translation.

**Important Update**Important Update**Important Update**

Following the phenomenal response I had to my J1 Predicted Lineups article, I thought I’d take on an even more daunting task….doing the same for J2. I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labour. Once again please get in touch and tell me how right / wrong I am.

First up, some housekeeping rules,
* These lineups are not necessarily meant to be the ones that will start in the opening round, but more the players expected to feature most regularly over the course of the year.
* I’ve been a little more conservative in J2 with selecting university graduates and youth team rookies in lineups due to having less information on these players (for example, range of positions they can play) than their J1 counterparts.
* As with the J1 lineups, teams who performed reasonably well in 2020, kept the same manager and a bulk of their playing staff or who have dedicated English bloggers (V-Varen Nagasaki, FC Ryukyu) are easier to read than those who played poorly last season, changed coaches and had a large overhaul in personnel (both newly promoted sides were pretty tough too!)
* Teams are listed in the order they finished 2020, ages given are correct for the opening round of fixtures, (Y) = youth team product, and players with an injury cloud hanging over their head have not been included.

With that out of the way, here we go….

V-Varen Nagasaki

Brief Notes: Bridesmaids last year and despite the rather harsh parting of ways with Teguramori they look like the team to beat in 2021.

Ventforet Kofu

Brief Notes: The Scotland of J2 with no superstars, but their level doesn’t really go up or down regardless of who’s playing for them. They have a number of university rookies in their ranks who’ll probably feature more as the year progresses.

Giravanz Kitakyushu

Brief Notes: The vultures descended upon them over the winter and though the remaining carcass of last season’s 5th placed squad should see them to safety, they lack a proven goalscorer.

Júbilo Iwata

Brief Notes: The talent is there to go up, but, is their coach past his sell-by date? Can they find the right formation? And, is the squad motivated enough?

Montedio Yamagata

Brief Notes: With no playoffs they will most likely be thereabouts, rather than there, but this is a team worth keeping an eye on.

Kyoto Sanga

Brief Notes: With a new coach who knows his way out of the division and the outlay on new talent this winter, there are frankly no excuses for spending another year jostling for positions with teams with the budgets of (with the greatest of respect) Mito and Tochigi.

Mito HollyHock

Brief Notes: They won’t go up, and they won’t go down, but will surely play an attractive brand of football nonetheless and develop a few more youngsters on behalf of the powerhouses in J1.

Tochigi SC

Brief Notes: Like Kitakyushu, their 2020 overachievement has seen them ‘rewarded’ with several important players heading for fresh pastures. Should have enough to steer clear of the drop, but getting anywhere near last season’s form will be a tall ask.

Albirex Niigata

Brief Notes: The rather stagnant Covid-era transfer market had the trickle down effect of allowing them to keep Homma in Niigata. Could a potentially mouth-watering attack catapult them into the promotion spots?

Tokyo Verdy

Brief Notes: Twas forever thus, youngsters move on to spend their prime years away from Ajista, while others are promoted to take their place. Another year of solid mid-table football beckons.

Matsumoto Yamaga

Brief Notes: A lot of changes over the winter, but somehow on paper the pieces don’t seem to fit together as well as I thought they would. They’d surely be a playoff contender in a normal year, but top two seems a step too far this season, with, or without, Kazuma Yamaguchi.

JEF United Chiba

Brief Notes: Their starting eleven looks good in theory, and if new Brazilian Matheus Saldanha starts banging them in, they could go places. Any other side and I might say they were in the hunt for top 6, but this is JEF we’re talking about.

Omiya Ardija

Brief Notes: They surely can’t be as bad this year, Nakano and Yajima seem like solid additions in attack, and if they are able to keep everyone fit they should finish top half.

FC Ryukyu

Brief Notes: The squad seems to have the same imbalance as last year with a strong attack and leaky defence. This will probably lead to a similar end result, comfortably out of the drop zone, but not really threatening the top 10.

Fagiano Okayama

Brief Notes: As a disgruntled Scot, let me quote Alan Shearer from a BBC advert prior to some major tournament, “with expectations at an all-time low, we (England) might actually go on and win the thing.” That’s about the only positive thing I could think to say about Okayama after last season’s mediocrity and an underwhelming winter transfer market.

Zweigen Kanazawa

Brief Notes: There will be plenty of J1 scouts watching them this year due to the volume of talented youngsters in their ranks. If Niwa and Senuma can fill the Kato and Lucão shaped void in attack they could achieve a top-half finish.

Machida Zelvia

Brief Notes: You could make an argument that their entire midfield should be in J1 and with Chong Tese and Dudu in attack top 8 is an absolute minimum following 2 years of drudgery.

Thespakusatsu Gunma

Brief Notes: Ended 2020 pretty well and seemed to fly under the radar due to starting the season so poorly. Assuming their new defenders settle in quickly then they could surprise a few people with how high up the table they finish.

Ehime FC

Brief Notes: The return of several club legends over the winter gives them a more solid look than last year, however, it’s hard to see where the goals are coming from. Yoshiki Fujimoto will need to rediscover his 2019 form, and then some, if they’re to avoid risking being passed by prefectural neighbours Imabari.

Renofa Yamaguchi

Brief Notes: A team to watch as there will likely be goals, lots of them, at either end. Probably second to Machida in terms of sides who’ve upgraded the most over the winter.

Blaublitz Akita

Brief Notes: In a similar vein to what I said about Tokushima in the J1 article, Akita stormed to the title last season and kept the bulk of their stalwarts, but they don’t have a whole lot of experience in the league they’ll be playing in this year. J3 champions generally don’t go straight back down, but then again, there aren’t usually years when the bottom 4 all make the drop.

SC Sagamihara

Brief Notes: A solid, experienced outfit, and with Rômulo staying put, does that give them enough goals to stay afloat? Gamba loanee Ren Shibamoto is a gem of a signing in my book, keep an eye out for him.


4 replies on “J2 2021 Predicted Lineups”

hi, thanks for the interesting article. I would like to ask you a question, if you had to choose a promising young man who could find space in J1 who would you choose?


Thanks very much Carl, tough question…I would say Seiya Maikuma (Nagasaki), Kaito Suzuki (Iwata), Shion Homma (Niigata) and Kaishu Sano (Machida) all have the potential to be J1 players in the near future, Homma would be the most likely in my opinion


You’re welcome…Taiga Hata, a left wing-back at Shonan is a player I really like, his team-mate Shunta Tanaka (centre-backl/midfield) is another to watch. Yuya Fukuda (Gamba) and Reo Hatate (Kawasaki) played well last season and should do better this year. Shunki Higashi (Hiroshima) is a versatile player who could go on to brighter things and Ayase Ueda (Kashima) had a decent year goals wise in 2020, but could really explode this time round if Kashima challenge for the title. Kazuya Konno is a tricky player at FC Tokyo and others are tipping him to do well and for an outside bet, Ryunosuke Kabayama (Marinos) has apparently been doing good things in pre-season, he’s just turned pro after graduating from high school. Speaking of which, Sagan Tosu full-back Shinya Nakano is still in his final year of high school but he’s registered to play this year and is definitely someone to keep your eye on.


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