Nagoya Grampus can go within three points off top spot and nearer to Champions League places with a win over leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima in this week's stand-out fixture
Consadole Sapporo v. Omiya Ardija – Atsubetsu Stadium, 2pm
Consadole lost 3-1 to Kashiwa Reysol in Round 25, their fourth consecutive defeat which leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table. Ardija, meanwhile, picked up an absolutely vital three points in their bid to avoid relegation by beating Sagan Tosu 1-0 last weekend. Omiya won the reverse fixture 2-1 in April, can they do so again here?
Kashima Antlers v. Yokohama F. Marinos – Kashima Soccer Stadium, 2pm
Antlers drew 2-2 with Kawasaki Frontale last week, although they will be disappointed with that having been 2-0 up. Marinos had worse luck in Round 25 when they lost 2-1 to Urawa Reds despite also taking an early lead. It ended 0-0 in Yokohama at the start of the season, will either side have enough to take home all three points on Saturday?
Vegalta Sendai v. Vissel Kobe – Yurtec Stadium, 3:30pm
Sendai surrendered top pot after losing 2-1 to Sanfrecce Hiroshima last weekend and will be desperate to get back to winning ways here. Vissel also failed to get any points in Round 25, losing by the same scoreline to Jubilo Iwata. Vegalta won 1-0 in Kobe in July, will they be able to complete a double over Vissel at home?
Urawa Reds v. Gamba Osaka – Saitama Stadium, 4pm
Urawa strengthened their title credentials by coming from behind to beat Yokohama F. Marinos 2-1 in Round 25. Gamba, meanwhile, fell back into the relegation zone after conceding an injury time equaliser to draw 1-1 with fellow basement-dwellers Albirex Niigata.
The experience of central midfield lynchpin Yasuhito Endo (pictured) will be key to the Osaka side’s chances of survival in the final stretch, and if he can control the pace of the game then Gamba will always create chances.
Reds won 2-1 with an injury time goal when these sides met in Osaka earlier this year though, so to see if they can push their old rivals into even deeper trouble check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live worldwide!
Jubilo Iwata v. Albirex Niigata – Yamaha Stadium, 4pm
Jubilo stayed in the race for the title by coming from behind to win 2-1 away to Vissel Kobe last week.
Albirex also picked up a vital point for their season in Round 25, salvaging a 1-1 draw away to Gamba Osaka with an injury time goal to keep them in with a chance of avoiding relegation. Jubilo absolutely hammered Albirex 6-1 Niigata back in May, will there be as many goals this time around?
Cerezo Osaka v. Shimizu S-Pulse – Kincho Stadium, 6pm
Cerezo failed to put any real distance between themselves and the relegation zone when they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Nagoya Grampus in Round 25. S-Pulse, meanwhile, look to have slipped out of the title race after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by FC Tokyo last week. It ended 1-1 in Shimizu in May, will either side be able to claim the victory on Saturday?
FC Tokyo v. Kawasaki Frontale – Ajinomoto Stadium, 7pm
Tokyo earned a solid point in Round 25, drawing 1-1 away to Shimizu S-Pulse, and they sit comfortably in 9th place. Kawasaki also drew last time out, coming from 2-0 down to take a point at home to Kashima Antlers, although they are still not entirely clear of the relegation scrap. Tokyo won 1-0 in the reverse fixture in Kawasaki, can Frontale avenge that this weekend?
Nagoya Grampus v. Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Mizuho Stadium, 7pm
Grampus kept pace with the rest of the title hopefuls last weekend when they beat Cerezo Osaka 2-0
However, Sanfrecce assumed the lead in the race for the championship in Round 25 when they defeated previous league-leaders Vegalta Sendai 2-1.
Hisato Sato (pictured) didn’t get on the scoresheet in that game but is far-and-away J1’s top scorer this season, with 18 goals to his name. His sharp movement and ability to take on shots early mean he poses a threat for defenders throughout the division though, and Grampus will have to be on their guard.
It finished 1-1 between theses sides in April, to see if Nagoya can go one better this time and make the title race even tighter check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live around the world!
Sagan Tosu v. Kashiwa Reysol – Best Amenity Stadium, 7pm
Tosu suffered a surprise defeat last weekend, going down 1-0 away to relegation-threatened Omiya Ardija. Reysol, on the other hand, just about kept themselves in with a shout of defending their J.League title by beating Consadole Sapporo 3-1.
The decisive goal in that game was struck by Masato Kudo (pictured), who volleyed home his 11th of the season and moved into third in the league scoring charts in the process.
Things ended all square at 1-1 when these sides met in Kashiwa earlier this season, to see if Kudo has his scoring boots on to ensure all three points this week check your local TV schedule as this game is being shown live worldwide!