Match-day 3 of the J.League YBC Levain Cup will take place on August 12. Due to the change of regulations, this has become the final day of the group stage to decide the five teams that will join the three ACL participants in the Prime Stage.
In Group A, both Nagoya Grampus and Kawasaki Frontale won the first two matches and the game between them will decide the winners. They each scored three goals in the previous match-day and had a comfortable win in the latest league match as well. Since they are both in a fine form, we can expect some exciting 90 minutes. Shimizu S-Pulse and Kashima Antlers are already eliminated, but both are showing signs of improvement. The performance of their talented youngsters could be an interesting element in this match.
Group B sees only three teams, as J2 side Matsumoto Yamaga dropped out of the competition. Cerezo Osaka have six points and can quality for the Prime Stage with a victory or a draw, but if Vegalta Sendai win, three teams including Urawa Reds will have six points (three points will be added to Urawa and Sendai, who didn’t play against Matsumoto). In this case, head-to-head points and goal difference will be the tie-breaker. While Sendai need several goals, as they suffered a heavy defeat against Urawa, Cerezo might opt for a cautious game conduct, considering how a draw would be enough for them.
Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo have an advantage in Group C after winning the first two matches. They can qualify if they add at least a point against Yokohama FC in this match, but they probably will play anyway their aggressive brand of football. Yokohama FC are in need of many goals, in addition to three points, to improve their goal difference. Sanfrecce Hiroshima need to beat Sagan Tosu and hope for Sapporo’s defeat to qualify for the next round. Since the best second-place team can also join the Prime Stage, adding three points with as many goals as possible could prove crucial.
Kashiwa Reysol in Group D have already qualified for the next stage, and only Shonan Bellmare have a chance of becoming the best second-place team. Since Shonan are struggling at the bottom of the table in the league, they surely hope to defeat Gamba Osaka to get in a positive mood. The match between Kashiwa Reysol and Oita Trinita will not affect the end result of the group, but it could be a great opportunity for both teams to try new things ahead of the next league fixture.