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Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 34

Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 34

It all comes down to one weekend - the final matchweek.

The title, the final AFC Champions League place, and relegation are all on the line in Matchweek 34. Let's break down some things to watch.

Marinos or Frontale for the title?

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The Meiji Yasuda J1 League title is on the line and will be decided this weekend.

Yokohama F·Marinos are top of the table, but Kawasaki Frontale are only two points back and both teams are playing away from home.

Marinos have to travel to Vissel Kobe, who had won five straight before Frontale toppled the Ushi last week. Playing such an in-form team will be a tall task, but a draw should be enough for the Tricolor to become champions. They have an 11-goal edge on goal difference over Frontale, so if that holds then a draw in Kobe would be enough to earn them the title.

If Marinos slip, though, the door is open for Frontale to win their third straight championship and an unprecedented fifth in the last six years. They are away to an F.C.Tokyo team that has lost two of their last three, so all eyes are on Léo Ceará and Anderson Lopes as they try to take three points.

Will Marinos hold on and win their first title since 2019? Or will Frontale make history with yet another crown? It’s all coming down to the final day!

Five teams for two potential relegation places

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Relegation has been sealed for Júbilo Iwata but there are still two more potential spots to be decided this weekend.

Shimizu S-Pulse currently sit in 17th place, the final automatic relegation place, while Kyoto Sanga are in 16th, which would send them to a play-off against a J2 team.

S-Pulse need to beat Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo to have any chance of spending another season in the top flight. By contrast, Sanga may be able to get out of the bottom three with a draw over Júbilo, but three points would be massive.

Gamba Osaka are in 15th, but could fall to either 16th or 17th place and will be away to Kashima, knowing a win keeps them out of the drop. Avispa Fukuoka and Shonan Bellmare have a little more wiggle room because the furthest either could fall is 16th place, which would put them in the play-off.

Who will go down with Júbilo and who will go to a play-off with their top-flight life on the line? It's time to find out.

Sanfrecce trying to hold onto third

Marinos and Frontale will finish first and second, in some order, and take the AFC Champions League places that come with those spots. Ventforet Kofu, winners of the Emperor’s Cup, will also head to the Asian championship. But who will finish in third place and take Japan’s final spot in the competition?

Sanfrecce Hiroshima hold onto third place right now and if they draw or beat Sagan Tosu, they will head to play on the continent. If they lose, however, then Cerezo Osaka or Kashima Antlers have a chance to make the AFC Champions League next season.

Both the Sakura and Antlers are three points back of Sanfrecce, so if the Viola lose, Cerezo and Kashima would move level with wins. For Cerezo, that means besting Nagoya Grampus and Kashima have to get the better of Gamba Osaka, but simply winning would not be enough.

Cerezo and Antlers will also have to make up ground on goal difference. Cerezo trail Sanfrecce by four goals, and Kashima are six behind, so it’s not just going to be about winning but winning big.

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