Goal.com previews the J-League's upcoming fixtures as it enters the 27th week
J.League Division 1, Round 27 Fixtures:
Shimizu S-Pulse v. Vegalta Sendai – Nihondaira Stadium, 1pm
S-Pulse suffered a 3-2 defeat away to Cerezo Osaka in Round 26, leaving them seven points away from the Asian Champions League places with just eight games to play. Vegalta, meanwhile, kept themselves right in the championship hunt with a dramatic late 2-1 win over Vissel Kobe last week.
Jiro Kamata (pictured, centre) was their hero with an injury time winner then, but he has also been an integral part of the defence all season with Vegalta conceding the fewest goals of any team in J1.
Even so, Shimizu won 1-0 in Sendai in May so to see if they can throw another spanner in the works make sure to check your local TV schedule as this game is being broadcast live worldwide!
Sanfrecce Hiroshima v. Sagan Tosu – Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium, 1:30pm
Sanfrecce dramatically hung on at the top of J1 last weekend when they snatched a last-gasp 2-1 victory away to 2010 champions Nagoya Grampus. Sagan kept themselves in the hunt for an Asian Champions League place in Round 26 by beating reigning champions Kashiwa Reysol 3-1. Tosu won the reverse fixture between these sides 1-0, will they be able to repeat that success on Saturday?
FC Tokyo v. Jubilo Iwata – Ajnomoto Stadium, 2pm
FC Tokyo slumped to a 2-1 defeat against local rivals Kawasaki Frontale last weekend and will be keen not to let their season fizzle out. Jubilo’s bid for the title was dented in Round 26 when they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to struggling Albirex Niigata. They fared a bit better when these sides met in Iwata at the end of June, winning 3-1, can Tokyo claim revenge back on their patch?
Albirex Niigata v. Nagoya Grampus – Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium, 2pm
Albirex earned an impressive point away to high-flying Jubilo Iwata in Round 26 but remain second from bottom and in need of wins. Nagoya fell to a demoralising last-gasp defeat to league-leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima last weekend and they, too, need to embark on a winning streak if they want to stand any chance of claiming the title they won in 2010.
A key man for them in that respect is former Japan international Marcus Tulio Tanaka (pictured), who as well as being a formidable centre-back also poses a threat in front of goal, finding the net six times this season.
It finished 2-1 to Grampus way back in March, to see if they can get their title push back on track and hammer another nail in Albirex’s coffin check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live around the world!
Vissel Kobe v. Cerezo Osaka – Home’s Stadium, 2pm
Vissel are in danger of being dragged down into the relegation dogfight after three consecutive defeats, most recently 2-1 to Vegalta Sendai. Cerezo are themselves embroiled in a battle to save their J1 status but received a huge boost with a 3-2 victory over Shimizu S-Pulse in Round 26. Vissel won 2-1 in Osaka back in May, can Cerezo claim revenge and leapfrog their rivals with a victory on Saturday?
Omiya Ardija v. Yokohama F. Marinos – NACK5 Stadium, 4pm
Ardija’s latest bid to avoid relegation to J2 was aided with a second consecutive win last weekend when they beat rock-bottom Consadole Sapporo 5-0. Marinos ended their four-game unbeaten run in Round 26 by defeating Kashima Antlers 2-1. It finished 1-1 between these sides in Yokohama in April, can either of them find enough to snatch all three points this time around?
Gamba Osaka v. Kashima Antlers – Banpaku Stadium, 4pm
Gamba’s bizarre season continued with a 5-0 win over arch-rivals Urawa Reds last week, but they remain in the relegation zone. Antlers’ 2-1 loss at home to Yokohama F. Marinos in Round 26 means they are still not entirely safe from the drop to J2 either. Gamba were thumped 5-0 when these sides met in Kashima earlier in the season, can they avenge that humbling at home on Saturday?
Kashiwa Reysol v. Urawa Reds – Tokyo National Stadium, 7pm
Reigning champions Reysol now have it all to do if they want to retain their championship after they lost 3-1 to this year’s surprise package Sagan Tosu last weekend. Reds were also on the receiving end in Round 26, being slaughtered 5-0 at home by Gamba Osaka.
Even so, they are better placed to challenge for this year’s title than Reysol and in Yuki Abe (pictured) they have an experienced and talented talisman at the heart of their midfield to drive them on.
Urawa won 1-0 when these sides met in just the second week of the season, to see if they can do the same again and all but end Reysol’s defence of the J1 crown check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live worldwide!
Kawasaki Frontale v. Consadole Sapporo – Todoroki Stadium, 7pm
Frontale were in danger of being drawn into the relegation scrap but gained an invaluable three points with a 2-1 win over FC Tokyo in Round 26. Consadole, on the other hand, are cut well adrift at the bottom of the table and another defeat here could see them relegated if results elsewhere also go against them. Frontale won 3-2 when the sides met earlier this season, can they spell the end for Sapporo this weekend?