Effects of the Spanish magician’s presence in Japan are already being felt on and off the pitch as the country’s domestic league looks to step out of the Chinese Super League’s shadow
There is no shortcut to win, says one of the slogans on the walls of Vissel Kobe’s headquarters on the fourth floor of a nondescript building on a quiet stretch of the city’s harbour front. Signing Andrés Iniesta and his fellow World Cup-winner Lukas Podolski is a fairly big step in the right direction, however, for a team who had become used to mid-table finishes at best in the J League.
Temperatures in Japan were hot enough in August before a sizzling strike from Iniesta against Jubilo Iwata brought the house down. Four days later he did something similar against Tokyo, also in front of a full house. The former Barcelona player has not just been keeping defenders and journalists busy, his goals added significantly to the workload of Kobe’s business department.
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