Match of the Week: Frontale chase title as Bellmare fight the drop

Match of the Week: Frontale chase title as Bellmare fight the drop

When Kawasaki Frontale and Shonan Bellmare meet on Saturday, it will be a clash of two very different teams but one that holds massive importance for them both as they face huge stakes on opposite ends of the table.

Frontale have won four of the last five Meiji Yasuda J1 League titles so it’s no surprise to see them on the hunt for another. They’re top of the league, but Yokohama F·Marinos are only a point back and have a match in hand so Toru Oniki’s men need to pick up every win they can.

Bellmare are similarly in a familiar position, finding themselves in the relegation fight for the third straight season, but they’ve proven in recent years that they can handle that pressure. They currently sit in 16th place, which would send them to a relegation play-off, but only on goal difference, so any result could be enough to send them clear of the drop zone.

With so much on the line for both teams, the energy and intensity is sure to be sky high. What can separate these Kanagawa clubs? Potentially, their stars.

For Frontale, that means Marcinho right now. The Brazilian has four goals in Frontale’s last three matches as he has found his best form.

The returning Jesiel has also been tremendous in defense, providing a vital stability that has helped add even more comfort to a team with a surging attack.

On the other side, Bellmare’s star has been Shuto Machino this season as the 22-year-old forward has become one of the most electrifying young players in the J.League. His eight goals this season are five more than anyone else in the team, making him the clear dangerman in green.

With Machino on the pitch, Bellmare can be a threat to any defense and nobody knows that as well as Frontale. When these two teams met in May, Machino scored twice to lead his team to a shocking 4-0 ransacking of the defending league champions. Recently, though, the starlet has found it difficult to find the net, with his last goal all the way back in June in Kyoto.

Can Machino get back on track and lead Bellmare to another win over the defending champions? Or will Frontale get revenge for their defeat earlier this season and add even more momentum to their title chase?

We’ll find out on Saturday at Lemon Gas Stadium Hiratsuka in another gigantic Meiji Yasuda J1 League clash!