Japan: XLeague heads into 3rd week with a pair of key matchups

XLeague scheduling means week three starts before week two finishes. We will have the remaining matchups for you once all teams have played two games.

Panasonic Impulse -v- As One Black Eagles

Both teams are 2-0 going into this matchup but don’t be fooled by that. Black Eagles struggled to put away Cyclones and Hawkeye – the two weakest teams in the west. Impulse conversely easily beat Finies and Challengers – the two strongest teams apart from themselves. There is only one way this game is going and that’s a heavy loss for As One. The only question is by how many points. Given that Panasonic seem to be ironing out their early season issues, the answer is ‘a lot!’.

Prediction: 64-0 (Impulse)

Elecom Kobe Fines -v- Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers

Biggest game of the season so far for both teams. They’ve both lost to Panasonic and beaten much weaker sides in Cyclones and Hawkeye. Very contrasting performances though and the Fines, despite only beating the Challengers 10-7 in the spring look a safe bet here to get the win. With Big Blue up next for Kobe – an opponent they are unlikely to beat – the importance of this game cannot be overstated. A 2-2 record heading into the final two games against evenly matched opponents would be worlds better than 1-3.

Prediction: 21-14 (Finies)

Nagoya Cyclones -v- Club Hawkeye

The last time this two teams met the game finished in a 15-15 tie. That’s a scoreline you don’t see often in football. Newly promoted Hawkeye got the credit for fighting back late to get the tie, but given how the teams have played so far this season, they’ll be hoping to go one better in Nagoya and get their first ever win in X1. The Cyclones did reasonably well in their opener but were blown away 63-7 last weekend by the Fines. Don’t expect a high scoring game. The points total for both teams over the four games this season is just 20. That’s an average of 5 points a game per team. First team to score twice wins this.

Prediction: 14-10 (Hawkeye)

Lixil Deers -v- Asahi Beer Silver Star

Another huge one for both teams. In the offseason one wouldn’t have given Silver Star much hope but as we’ve said several times this Lixil team isn’t what it was last year, and Asahi Beer has been very impressive so far. Even in the loss to powerhouse Fujitsu, Silver Star battled to the end. The big question is whether their American players will finally be available or not. Even without them we think Silver Star will get the upset win here. The game is likely to be decided in the fourth quarter as fatigue begins to hit an Asahi Beer team that lacks depth. The Deers last year were the comeback kings and that quick scoring ability is still there. However it ends up it’s likely to be one of the best games of the year so far.