Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Ten Best Performing Teams in J. League History


A recent Brazilian publication reminded me to update our annual J. League club ranking. Their list, while using a different points system, ultimately came out eerily close to our own. I've reproduced it below.

First, a few quick points. I'm now calling the list the best performing teams. Reason being, my ranking isn't just about trophies. If you finish the league 2nd then you were one of the best teams in the land, even if you didn't win the title. And how else could I rig it so S-Pulse can poke their noses in? Second, for this year's 1st and 2nd place league points I simply used 2015's combined stage league table. Gamba get nothing for coming third or beating Urawa in the play off semi final.

Thirdly, deciding the league 1st and 2nd place points in this way creates an inconsistency. For 1993 to 2004 (1996 excluded) I used the teams from the championship play off game. Time permitting, I'd like to go back and amend those years to award the two best teams from the year-long table. I suspect the list wouldn't change a huge amount, save perhaps for Kashiwa's winning of the combined 2000 table and the points that would bring. The league format at the time prevented them from even joining the play off.

Still awake at the back? Good, because we're ready to go. Points are awarded as last year:

League title: 3 Points
League runners up: 1 Point
Cup win: 2 Points
Cup runners up: .5 Points
Relegation: -1 Point
Time spent in lower division: -.5 per year
So here you go, the ten best performing teams in J. League history:

1) Kashima Antlers 43.5
2) Gamba Osaka 21.5
3) Yokohama F. Marinos 20 
-) Jubilo Iwata 20
5) Urawa Red Diamonds 16.5
6) Tokyo Verdy 11
7) Sanfrecce Hiroshima 10.5
Nagoya Grampus 10
9) S-PULSE 9.5
10) Kashiwa Reysol 7

The most notable change this year being Gamba's rise to second. Another cup win moved them above Marinos and Iwata, but while their rise up the list comes off the back of recent trophies, it's worth remembering that since 2002 they have also finished J1 in 3rd place seven times. Impressive.

Hiroshima continue their relentless surge upwards with a third league title in four years, while Antlers maintain a seemingly insurmountable lead at the top following yet another cup triumph. Verdy drop another half point ahead of 2016 in J2, and S-Pulse also take a hit following relegation and the upcoming season in a lower league.

Make of it what you will. It isn't perfect, and if you want a professional opinion then here's what the Brazilian media arrived at:

1) Kashima
2) G. Osaka
3) Iwata
4) Yokohama F. Marinos
5) Verdy
6) Urawa
7) Sanfrecce
8) Reysol
9) Nagoya
10) Yokohama Flügels

Pretty close, all told. I don't know what criteria was used, but they still have Verdy on considerably more points than Urawa, so perhaps they didn't penalise years spent playing at a lower level in the same way I did.

There you go then, mates! Same time next year. :)