Goal.com previews the J-League's upcoming weekend fixtures as the competition enters its 32nd week
J.League Division 1, Round 32 Fixtures:
Kashima Antlers v. Vegalta Sendai – Kashima Soccer Stadium, 2pm
Antlers battled their way to a 0-0 draw with Omiya Aridja in Round 31, which keeps them at arms-length from the relegation zone but still not completely safe. Vegalta also drew in the last round, a late equaliser earning them a 1-1 home tie with Cerezo Osaka. Vegalta won 1-0 when these sides met way back on the first day of the season, can they enhance their title push and keep Antlers in danger of the drop with another three points on Saturday?
Urawa Reds v. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Saitama Stadium, 2pm
Reds are now without a win in four games after losing 4-2 away to Kawasaki Frontale in Round 31, and their ACL hopes are increasingly coming under threat. Sanfrecce got back to winning ways and extended their lead at the top of the table to two points last time out when they cruised to a 3-0 win over Consadole Sapporo.
Tomoaki Makino was previously a fan favourite at Sanfrecce but will be lining up against them here for his current side Reds, where he is on a season-long loan from FC Koln in Germany. As well as being an intelligent defender the 25-year-old also enjoys getting on the scoresheet and will be keen to halt his former side’s march to the title this weekend.
Sanfrecce took all three points with a 1-0 win when they hosted Reds on the very first day of the season. To see if Makino and co. can bring about a different result this time check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live around the world!
Yokohama F. Marinos v. Kashiwa Reysol – Nissan Stadium, 2pm
Marinos kept up their challenge for the final ACL place in Round 32 when they secured a 2-1 win over Vissel Kobe, leaving them undefeated in six matches. Reysol could only manage one point in their last match though, drawing 2-2 with Gamba Osaka and dropping into 8th place, one point behind Marinos. Honours were even in Round 1 when these two played out a thrilling 3-3 draw. Will there be as much drama this time?
Albirex Niigata v. Kawasaki Frontale – Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium, 2pm
Albirex gave themselves a lifeline in Round 32 when they earned a 1-0 win away to Shimizu S-Pulse, moving to within two points of safety. Kawasaki also earned three points in the last round though, coming from behind to beat Urawa Reds 4-2. Albirex went down 1-0 in Kawasaki on the very first day of the season, can they gain revenge in Niigata and edge further to a place in J1 next year?
Jubilo Iwata v. Nagoya Grampus – Yamaha Stadium, 2pm
Jubilo’s miserable recent run continued with a 3-2 loss to Sagan Tosu last week, making it six games without a win. Grampus moved up into fourth and within striking distance of the ACL places when they snatched a 1-0 win against FC Tokyo in Round 31.
One positive for Jubilo is the return of striker Hidetaka Kanazono. After making his first appearance of the season in Round 30 against Vegalta Sendai he made it onto the scoresheet last week against Sagan and will be looking to do the same again this Saturday.
Grampus were 2-0 winners in Nagoya when these sides came head-to-head in June, to see if Kanazono can spearhead some payback this time around check your local TV schedules as this match is being broadcast live worldwide!
Consadole Sapporo v. Sagan Tosu – Sapporo Dome, 5pm
Consadole suffered their 25th defeat of the season in Round 31 when they went down 3-0 to league leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Sagan were promoted along with Sapporo last year but have fared much better in J1 and last week they beat Jubilo Iwata 3-2 meaning they can still make the ACL. It ended 1-0 to the home side in Tosu at the end of June, can Sapporo salvage some late pride with a win in front of their own fans on Saturday?
FC Tokyo v. Vissel Kobe – Ajinomoto Stadium, 7pm
Tokyo fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Nagoya Grampus in Round 31 and are marooned in mid-table, too far from the ACL places but safe from relegation. The same can’t be said of Vissel who are now nine games without a win and sacked manager Akira Nishino after their 2-1 defeat to Yokohama F. Marinos in the last round. Tokyo won 2-0 in Kobe back in March, Vissel desperately need to gain revenge here; can they do so?
Shimizu S-Pulse v. Gamba Osaka – Nihondaira Stadium, 5pm
Shimizu followed their defeat in the Nabisco Cup final with a loss in the league last week, going down 1-0 at home to Albirex Niigata. Gamba managed to earn one point towards safety in their relegation battle after a 2-2 draw with Kashiwa Reysol, but they remain below the dreaded dotted line.
Key to their hopes of avoiding the drop is Japan national team defender Yasuyuki Konno, and while the side remain free-scoring they are also conceding too many and need Konno and co. to tighten up at the back in their last three matches.
It finished 3-1 to Gamba when these two met back in Round 7, and the Osaka side desperately need a similar outcome this weekend. To see if they can get it make sure to check your local TV schedules as this match is being broadcast live around the world!Cerezo Osaka v. Omiya Ardija – Kincho Stadium, 5pm
Cerezo very nearly took all three points but had to make do with just one after conceding a late equaliser in their 1-1 draw with title-chasing Vegalta Sendai in Round 31. Omiya are battling at the other end of the table and also earned a point in the last round and made it eight unbeaten when they drew 0-0 with Kashima Antlers. Cerezo were comprehensive 3-0 winners in Omiya earlier this season, will things be as easy for them this weekend?