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Urawa Reds manager Volker Finke declared his side was “moving in the right direction” after Sunday’s 3-0 hammering of Kawasaki Frontale, and while evidence on the pitch certainly backed him up, after last season’s astonishing summer collapse it might be wiser to reserve judgment.

Urawa sits in first place after seven rounds of a campaign that has so far followed exactly the same trajectory as 2009. Then, as now, Finke’s side started with a comprehensive defeat away to champions Kashima Antlers before a tentative home win over FC Tokyo laid the foundations for increased confidence and a steady rise up the table.

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