In the past season Vissel Kobe featured the so-called “Big Three”: David Villa, Lukas Podolski and Andres Iniesta, and naturally were a strong title contender, but unexpectedly struggled from the beginning. After replacing the manager twice, they finally improved their form with Thorsten Fink at the helm, and summer signings Thomas Vermaelen and Gotoku Sakai. In the end, they finished eighth in the league, but won the Emperor’s Cup — their first ever title.
Despite Villa hanging up his boots and Podolski leaving the club, Kobe did not sign any world-famous player. Instead, they opted for Douglas, who might not be so well known outside of Japan, but has a great record at Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Shimizu S-Pulse. His performance will be a big factor for their success this season. On the opening day in 2020, Vissel suffered in front of Yokohama FC’s solid defense in a 1-1 draw, but they are certainly one of the teams that could lead this year’s title race.
The Spanish superstar is a world-class superstar that needs no introduction. His dribbling, passes, control, shots… any of his skill is way above the J.League standard. He turned 36 this year, but he will continue to entertain fans with his ever-lasting technique.
The Brazilian striker joined Kobe from Shimizu S-Pulse. In 2015, Douglas scored 21 goals to help Sanfrecce to win the league. His strong physicality makes him a great target man, and he often finds the net with his powerful left foot or precise headers.