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The notion of Gamba Osaka winning the 2014 J. League title was laughable when the club went into the World Cup break in the relegation zone, but after lifting the trophy on Saturday it is difficult to deny they deserved it.

Newly promoted Gamba put together an astonishing run of form over the second half of the season to go from 16th to the sharp end of the title race, steadily reeling in front-runners Urawa Reds before clinching the silverware on the final day. Urawa’s shaky mental resolve undoubtedly played its part, but Gamba’s momentum was so strong that any team standing in their way had little chance of escaping unscathed.

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