With seven of the nine J1 games being played on Friday this week, we preview game week ten, and take a look back over games week eight and nine.
Starting with the Squirrels; whose impressive league form continued this past week, who are now three points clear of Yokohama F Marinos. With victories over Kashiwa Reysol and Oita Trinita, 4-0 and 2-0 respectively, Omiya have now stretched their unbeaten record to 20, J1 games. On Monday Omiya face current Champions Sanfreece Hiroshima, who due to their recent AFC Champions League commitments will not play their scheduled week nine game until May 29.
They did however play in week eight in what was a tight affair, their game with Nagoya Grampus finished in a draw. Sanfreece now sit nine points of the pace in J1, with a game in hand.
Marinos recent poor form continues, after what was a great start to the league. No win in three; this is when we find out what resolve Marinos have, and if they really can be a genuine title contender. After two draws in a week, firstly against Venforet Kofu and with a last gasp equaliser from Fabio, against Kashima Antlers, they now face a Reysol side, which like Sanfreece have had an extra days rest due to AFC participation. Still sitting in third, despite two losses on the bounce, Urawa Reds will travel to Cerezo Osaka in game week ten, hoping for a change from their recent fortunes.
Cerezo on the other hand, will be in buoyant mood following a 3-0 away win over Shonan Bellmare, with Yoichiro Kakitani grabbing a brace; this was Cerezo first win in five. As for Bellmare, the writing seems to be on the wall for them this season, expect a relegation dogfight as the season continues and it doesn’t get any easier for Cho Kwi-Jea and his side, as they face an Antlers team that will be disappointed not to have claimed all three points against Marinos this past Friday.
Last season’s J2 Champions Venforet Kofu have now made it unbeaten in six with their latest victory over Jubilo Iwata. Unlike the other teams that were promoted with them, they have so far managed to stay clear of the relegation zone and in all fairness should be setting their goal as a top half finish. For Jubilo, could this be the season they drop out of J1? One of the most successful in J1 ever, with three titles to their name, their start to this season has seen just one win in nine. Obviously this is only week nine, so Jubilo still have plenty of time to turn things around. The real question is can they do it.
After a start that saw Shimizu S-Pulse concede 12 in their first four games, they have now only conceded a further three, in their last five. It is a great improvement from a side that could easily have slipped into a relegation battle for the season. They did lose 2-1 to Albirex Niigata this past Friday, so will be hoping for a better time out when they face Kawasaki Frontale this coming Monday.
Albirex have been somewhat yo-yoing these past few weeks, a win followed by a loss, followed by a win again by a loss and now another win, it has seen them slowly climb the table though and they are now four points ahead of Bellmare in the first relegation place. They face an in form Kofu in their next match.
Tokyo who defeated Frontale last weekend, 2-0, were up against Sagan Tosu in game week nine and it finished 3-2 to Tokyo, Tosu made a mini fight back but it wasn’t enough. Tokyo now goes on to face Jubilo. Frontale, who lined up against Nagoya, had only won once in their last five, and faced a difficult task against a Nagoya side that were looking for their first win in three. Frontale prevailed in this fixture 2-1, thanks to an 88th minute winner from Masaki Yanamoto.
Last but not least bottom club Oita Trinita face Sagan Tosu in week ten. Trinita have now failed to win in their opening nine league games. Tosu’s week eight opponents Vegalta Sendai, in which the game finished 1-1, did not feature in Friday’s games due to AFC commitments.
The remaining week nine fixtures will be played on May 25, and are as followed:
Sanfreece Hiroshima vs. Kashiwa Reysol
Urawa Reds vs. Vegalta Sendai
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