The J-League returns this week following a 14-day international break as Goal.com looks ahead to Matchday 29
J.League Division 1, Round 29 Fixtures:
Vegalta Sendai v. Urawa Reds – Yurtec Stadium, 1pm
Vegalta closed the gap on league leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima a fortnight ago when they beat Gamba Osaka 2-1. Reds, on the other hand, failed to make up any ground on Sanfrecce and although they remain third they are six points adrift after losing 2-1 to already-relegated Consadole Sapporo in Round 28.
Sendai’s only out-field ever-present this season is midfielder Yoshiaki Ota (pictured) and as well as contributing four goals the pacey wide-man is also always on hand to create chances for his teammates and will provide a real threat for Reds to deal with on the counter-attack.
Even so, Reds won 1-0 when these sides met at the start of the season in Urawa so to see if they can keep the championship run-in a three-horse race check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live worldwide!
Yokohama F. Marinos v. Jubilo Iwata – Nissan Stadium, 2pm
Marinos drew 0-0 with Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Round 28, the 13th time they have drawn in the league this season. Jubilo’s challenge for an ACL spot took a hit two weeks ago when they lost the Shizuoka derby 1-0 against Shimizu S-Pulse, slipping to 5th in the process. Jubilo won the reverse fixture 1-0 in April though, will they have enough to come out on top again in Yokohama?
Omiya Ardija v. Albirex Niigata – NACK5 Stadium, 3pm
Ardija claimed another point in their bid to avoid relegation in Round 28 when they drew 0-0 with Nagoya Grampus. Albirex did likewise a fortnight ago, playing out a 0-0 draw with Vissel Kobe, leaving them just below Ardija in the last relegation spot. Ardija won 2-1 in Niigata back in March, can they have a big say in who experiences the drop with another victory at home?
Kawasaki Frontale v. Gamba Osaka – Todoroki Stadium, 3pm
Frontale lost 1-0 to Kashiwa Reysol in Round 28 leaving them marooned in mid-table – nine points from the ACL spots and the same distance above the relegation zone. Gamba are still second bottom after losing 2-1 to Vegalta Sendai two weeks ago and are running out of time to preserve their J1 status. They did come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 last time these sides met in the league, can Frontale exact revenge on Saturday?
Shimizu S-Pulse v. Vissel Kobe – Nihondaira Stadium, 3pm
S-Pulse moved into fourth place after their 1-0 win in the Shizuoka derby against Jubilo Iwata in Round 28. Vissel managed to bring an end to their four game losing streak last time out but could still only manage a 0-0 draw with relegation-threatened Albirex Niigata.
Fellow striker Genki Omae stole the headlines with a hat-trick in the Nabisco Cup semi-final last week but Toshiyuki Takagi (pictured) is just as much of a threat for opposition defences and has the real ability to create chances out of nothing – as well as having eight goals to his name in J1 this season.
Vissel lost 1-0 when Shimizu travelled to Kobe earlier this season, to see if S-Pulse can make it a double and keep themselves in the hunt at the top of the table check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live around the world!
Sagan Tosu v. Nagoya Grampus – Saga Athletics Stadium, 3pm
Sagan fell to a 3-2 defeat to Cerezo Osaka in Round 28, their third defeat in four matches which has seen them drop to 8th. Grampus could only manage a 0-0 draw with Omiya Ardija two weeks ago, leaving them without a win in their last three matches. Grampus emerged as 1-0 winners when these sides met in Nagoya in April, can they get back to winning ways in Kyushu this weekend?
Consadole Sapporo v. Kashima Antlers – Atsubetsu Stadium, 4pm
Consadole pulled off a shock 2-1 win away to Urawa Reds in Round 28, their first away win of the season despite already being relegated. Antlers were also big winners in the last round, hammering FC Tokyo 5-1 and moving seven points clear of the relegation zone in the process. Antlers ran out emphatic 7-0 winners when Consadole came to Kashima earlier this year, is another high-scoring game on the cards in Hokkaido on Saturday?
Cerezo Osaka v. FC Tokyo – Kincho Stadium, 6pm
Cerezo made all but certain of their place in J1 for next season with a 3-2 win from behind against Sagan Tosu two weeks ago. Tokyo, meanwhile, absolutely capitulated against Kashima Antlers, going down 5-1 and staying in 10th place. Tokyo came out on top with a 2-0 win when these sides met in June, will they emerge triumphant again in Osaka this weekend?
Sanfrecce Hiroshima v. Kashiwa Reysol – Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium, 7pm
Sanfrecce stayed top of J1 after a 0-0 draw against Yokohama F. Marinos in Round 28, but Vegalta Sendai’s win against Gamba Osaka means their lead was cut to just three points. Kashiwa are too far back to have any realistic chance of defending their title but did claim three points towards their ACL challenge two weeks ago when they beat Kawasaki Frontale 1-0.
Sanfrecce have a key player coming back to full fitness at just the right time in Mihael Mikic (pictured), and the Croatian wing-back will work up and down the right channel for the whole 90 minutes looking for an opportunity to swing in a telling cross for the predatory Hisato Sato up-front.
Sanfrecce picked up an outstanding 5-2 win in Kashiwa in May – with Mikic setting up the decisive third goal – and will need all three points again here if they want to be absolutely certain of staying top at the end of Round 29. To see if they can do so check your local TV schedules as this game is being broadcast live worldwide!