J1 Match of the Week: Vissel’s title chase meets Kansai rival Sanga

J1 Match of the Week: Vissel’s title chase meets Kansai rival Sanga

Vissel Kobe are in the fight for their very first MeijI Yasuda J1 League title. It has been a dream season at Noevir Stadium Kobe and, with just a point separating them from Yokohama F·Marinos at the top, they are so close to eternal glory.

No team would rather crush the Ushi’s dreams like their Kansai rivals Kyoto Sanga, though, and they will have the chance to do just that when they meet Vissel on Sunday at 7 pm JST in a match that will be streamed live on the J.League International YouTube channel.

Leading the Ushi into this title fight has been Yuya Osako. The forward has scored a league-leading 19 goals and he has four assists too. He’s been a complete marvel all season long, killing teams with his constant and brilliant movement. He checks back for the ball, makes himself a threat from deep and also peels off of defenders in the box with regularity. Add his precise finishing and it’s no wonder that Osako has been so deadly.

Osako’s play has him in pole position to win J.League MVP honors and deservedly so, but he’s not doing it alone either. Yoshinori Muto has been terrific and is second in the league with nine assists, while the defense has allowed the second-fewest goals in the league.

Daiya Maekawa has put in a fabulous season between the sticks and the veteran back line has shown off their experience. They read the game extraordinarily well and when teams are able to put them under pressure, the Ushi defenders are never rattled. They use their experience to respond with poise and it’s a big reason they are in the title fight.

Vissel’s surge this season and position in the battle for the title gives this Kansai Derby added stakes, not that this rivalry needs it. The fans and teams always turn the intensity all the way up for this match and now Sanga will have the added motivation of spoiling the Ushi’s title push.

Sanga enter the match in good form too. They’ve won their last two matches by a combined score of 5-0. Patric has led the way and is up to 10 goals on the season, pacing the Kyoto club as they’ve matriculated up to 14th place and well clear of the relegation zone.

Can Sanga take down their rivals and play the role of spoiler? Or will Vissel add Kings of Kansai to their resume as they try to chase down the first J1 title in club history?

Tune in live and find out Sunday on the J.League International YouTube channel!