Goal.com previews the J-League's upcoming midweek fixtures as the competition enters its 31st week
J.League Division 1, Round 31 Fixtures:
Vegalta Sendai v. Cerezo Osaka – Yurtec Stadium, 7pm
Vegalta could only manage a 1-1 draw with Jubilo Iwata in Round 30 but they remain in second place on goal difference with four games to play. Cerezo also drew last time out, playing to a scoreless draw with Urawa Reds 10 days ago.
Sendai are usually fairly solid at the back but as the pressure grows and the title race becomes ever tighter mistakes may start to creep in. Cerezo’s Kenyu Sugimoto will be looking to cause and capitalise upon any such errors, with the Olympic striker a real handful for opposing defences to deal with.
Even so, Vegalta won 2-1 in Osaka when these sides last met, so to see if they can triumph again here check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live around the world!Omiya Ardija v. Kashima Antlers – NACK5 Stadium, 7pm
Omiya’s bid to avoid relegation received another boost a week-and-a-half ago when they beat Kashiwa Reysol 4-1 to make it seven games unbeaten. Antlers were on the wrong end of the result in Round 30 when they lost 2-1 at home to Shimizu S-Pulse, although they made amends for that by beating the same opponent by that score in Saturday’s Nabisco Cup Final. Kashima edged a 1-0 victory when these sides met back in July, can they avoid being plunged into the relegation scrap with another win this week?
Kashiwa Reysol v. Gamba Osaka – Hitachi Dai Stadium, 7pm
Reysol’s outside chances of making the Asian Champions League were dented with a 4-1 home defeat to Omiya Ardija in Round 30. Gamba, meanwhile, are still in the relegation zone and are running out of time to pick up the necessary wins after drawing 1-1 with Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the last round.
They won’t find it any easier in Kashiwa, and in Jorge Wagner Reysol have one of the best dead-ball specialists in the J.League. Whether whipping in crosses or taking aim at goal himself the Brazilian is a keen marksman and Gamba will have to be on their guard for the full 90 minutes.
Indeed, Reysol slaughtered Gamba 6-2 when they travelled to Osaka earlier in the season, so make sure to check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live worldwide and you don’t want to miss out on another humdinger!Kawasaki Frontale v. Urawa Reds – Todoroki Stadium, 7pm
Frontale drew 3-3 with Vissel Kobe in Round 30 leaving them as good as safe from relegation but still one win or so away from mathematical safety. Urawa have also struggled to pick up points lately and could only draw 0-0 with Cerezo Osaka ten days ago, leaving them with just one win in their last five games. It finished 1-1 when these sides squared off way back in March, are they destined to share the spoils again here?
Shimizu S-Pulse v. Albirex Niigata – Nihondaira Stadium, 7pm
S-Pulse beat Kashima Antlers 2-1 in Round 30 but followed that success with defeat to the same opponents by that score in Saturday’s Nabisco Cup Final. Albirex’s last game saw them lose 2-0 at home to Sagan Tosu a week-and-a half ago, leaving them five points adrift of safety with just four games to go. They were 1-0 victors in the reverse fixture earlier this year though, can they make it a double this week?
Nagoya Grampus v. FC Tokyo – Mizuho Stadium, 7pm
Grampus suffered last minute heartbreak in Round 30 when an injury time equaliser meant they could only earn a 1-1 draw with Yokohama F. Marinos. FC Tokyo picked up a much needed win last time out when they hammered already-relegated Consadole Sapporo 5-0. Tokyo came from a goal down to win 3-2 when these sides met at the start of the season, is there drama in store this time as well?
Vissel Kobe v. Yokohama F. Marinos – Home’s Stadium, 7pm
Vissel earned what could prove to be a vital point in Round 30 when they came from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with Kawasaki Frontale. Marinos also snatched a point from a perilous position, a last-minute equaliser earning them a 1-1 draw away to Nagoya Grampus. Marinos eased to a 3-1 win when Vissel came to Yokohama earlier this year, will things be as comfortable in Kobe on Wednesday?Sanfrecce Hiroshima v. Consadole Sapporo – Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium, 7pm
Sanfrecce just about hung on at the top of J1 with a 1-1 draw away to Gamba Osaka in Round 30, but their lead remains only on goal difference. Consadole’s brief recovery since their relegation was confirmed came to an emphatic end in the last round when they lost 5-0 to FC Tokyo.
Ryota Moriwaki is a key player for Sanfrecce in both defence and attack, and as the nerves begin to show on the final straight the team will be looking to their ball-playing and charismatic centre back to lead by example.
Sanfrecce were comfortable 3-1 winners when these two came face to face in May, and anything but a home win as top take on bottom would cause a big upset. You’ll be able to see for yourself if things do go as expected though, as this game is being broadcast live around the world, so make sure to check your local TV schedules!Sagan Tosu v. Jubilo Iwata – Saga Athetics Stadium, 7pm
Tosu picked up their first win in four games in the last round, beating relegation-threatened Albirex Niigata 2-0. Jubilo ended their own winless run in Round 30 when they came from a goal down to snatch a 1-1 draw with title-chasing Vegalta Sendai. Jubilo edged things 2-1 in Iwata at the start of the season, can Sagan gain some revenge at home on Wednesday?