The Osaka Derby is always a treat. Whether both teams are great, both teams are struggling, or the two teams find themselves on opposite ends of the table, Cerezo Osaka and Gamba Osaka are guaranteed to put on a show in the battle for city supremacy.
This weekend, that show takes the stage at Panasonic Stadium Suita, where a spirited Gamba crowd will try to push their team on for a crucial three points.
Gamba have had an uneven season and find themselves only one point clear of the relegation zone after a three-match winless streak. The derby energy will surely push them on against Cerezo, though, and there’s no better way to start a leap up the table than by taking down a rival.
Cerezo have had none of the issues of Gamba, sitting fifth in the table and positioning themselves to potentially snag an AFC Champions League place. They’ve not lost in their last four matches, an impressive feat considering three of those matches came against the top three teams in the table - Yokohama F·Marinos, Kawasaki Frontale and Kashima Antlers.
The Sakura don’t just play well against the top teams, though. They have been excellent against their rivals too and are hoping to complete a dominant season versus Gamba. They already beat the Nerazzurri once in the league, 3-1, behind a Hiroaki Okuno double, to go along with a win and draw in the J.League YBC Levain Cup as they advanced at the expense of Gamba.
Competing against the top of the league? Check. Chasing a berth into the Asian championship? Check.
All that’s left for Cerezo is to make clear they are the kings of Osaka.
That’s easier said than done, though. This is the Osaka Derby, after all. Gamba are a tough team with plenty to play for, and they’ll bring their very best on Saturday.
Will Osaka be pink? Or will Gamba paint it black and blue? We’ll find out this weekend in one of Japan’s best derbies.