Thursday, October 16, 2008

J-League upcoming week 29

After the international break the J-League gets underway. With only six matches left in the season the race for the championship is extremely close with seven clubs within six points of each other. On the other end of the table is one of the most exciting, if not perplexing relegation battles.

With the bottom two clubs automatically relegated to the "J-2" and the third from the bottom entering a playoff with third place finisher in "J-2" the fight has eight clubs with only four points. At this stage starting at Kashiwa Reysol which is tenth in the table all the way down to Omiya Ardija, which stands second-last, are separated by only four points. Coupled with the title race most clubs are either fighting for the title, a spot in the Champions League or to avoid relegation.

On Saturday:
Kyoto Purple Sanga @ Kashima Antlers
After losing to Aussie's Adelaide United in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League, the Antlers appear refocused on winning the table. However pressure to stay atop the table will be tough and consistancy is needed from Marquinhos, Danilo and Nippon Daihyo Shinzo Koroki

FC Tokyo @ Oita Trinita
This is definitely the match of the weekend as it will go a long way in sealing the fate of both clubs. The Gas Men were riding a five match winning streak before being stunned by blown apart by Shimizu S-Pulse 5-1 last week.

Kawasaki Frontale @ Shimizu S-Pulse
Last weeks "shocker" was Kawasaki Frontale's 3-0 destruction of defensive stalwarts Ōita. Tsutomu Takahata's club has three very "winnable" matches in succession before facing Gamba Osaka and perfectly positioned to take the title. Should ex Santos-man Renatinho continue at this place this could be a stunning finale for them.

Vissel Kobe @ Urawa Red Diamonds
The Red Diamonds fell victim to JEF last week and have seen their title hopes slip away with only a single victory in the last five matches. Gert Engels squad has played uncharacteristically sloppy Football in the defensive end of late and equally allowing matches to get away from them tactically. They do however have a "perfect" schedule through the balance of the season with Gamba Osaka the most difficult

Omiya Ardija @ Tokyo Verdy 1969
This bottom of the table fight fight is crucial for both clubs if they are to avoid automatic relegation. Tokyo Verdy is coming off a great match as they fought Nagoya Grampus to a tight-fisted 1-1 draw while Omiya Ardija was completely humiliated 4-0 by Kashiwa Reysol in a scoreline that was flattering.

Albirex Niigata @ JEF United Ichihara-Chiba
One of the big stories in the J-League is the stunning turnaround of JEF United which is unbeaten over the last six matches and gained eighteen points on the table since the start of August. Manager Alex Miller has directed this turnaround with Japan international Seiichiro Maki leading the way. Their play has thrown the relegation battle in complete disarray as it once seemed the JEF and Consadole Sapporo's fate were sealed.

Jubilo Iwata @ Gamba Osaka
How Gamba takes this match will be interesting tactically. They've been playing very sound Football of late with four match unbeaten streak but additionally face the Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League next week. Jubilo Iwata destroyed relegation condemned Consadole Sapporo with Ryoichi Maeda lighting up the score sheet three times before the break

On Sunday:
Kashiwa Reysol @ Consadole Sapporo
Reysol is on the outer edge of being concerned of relegation but this should be an easy three points and end that concern.

Nagoya Grampus Eight @ Yokohama F. Marinos
Last weeks stumble against Tokyo Verdy cost Grampus dearly as the 1-1 draw cost them the lead in the title race. Japan international Keiji Tamada will need to step-up and provide quality finishing for them to win the race. Their next five matches are all winnable against the lower half of the table before facing Ōita in a showdown in the final week that might decide the race.

J-League week 28PWDLGSGAPts
Kashima Antlers 28 14 8 6 49 26 50
Nagoya Grampus Eight 28 15 5 8 41 30 50
Kawasaki Frontale 28 14 6 8 51 37 48
Oita Trinita 28 14 6 8 30 22 48
Urawa Red Diamonds 28 13 8 7 45 31 47
FC Tokyo 28 13 6 9 40 37 45
Gamba Osaka 28 12 8 8 39 35 44
Shimizu S-Pulse 28 11 7 10 37 36 40
Vissel Kobe 28 9 10 9 34 31 37
Kashiwa Reysol 28 10 6 12 38 36 36
Kyoto Purple Sanga 28 10 6 12 29 36 36
Albirex Niigata 28 10 6 12 27 40 36
Yokohama F. Marinos 28 9 8 11 28 27 35
JEF United Ichihara-Chiba 28 9 6 13 29 43 33
Jubilo Iwata 28 9 5 14 35 41 32
Tokyo Verdy 1969 28 9 5 14 36 43 32
Omiya Ardija 28 9 5 14 28 39 32
Consadole Sapporo 28 4 5 19 32 58 17