Kawasaki Frontale’s bid for an unprecedented fifth Meiji Yasuda J1 League title in the last six seasons is down to its final gasps, while Shimizu S-Pulse are fighting just to stay in the top flight as the two teams clash in a contest that has massive, but very different, stakes for each.
Frontale trail Yokohama F·Marinos by eight points for the top spot in the table and, with four matches left for each team, they are running out of time to make up the gap. They have all the championship pedigree, but they cannot make more matches appear, so it’s now or never for Toru Oniki’s boys and they may need to win out to give themselves a chance at another title.
Key to Frontale’s chances is the defense reverting to form. Their previous title teams were built on being stingy, but they’ve taken a step back of late, keeping only one clean sheet in their last five and conceding four goals to Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo a week ago.
Scoring has not been a problem for S-Pulse this season and they will be hoping to take advantage of a Frontale defense that has looked more fragile than usual lately. Thiago Santana’s 12 goals this season leads the league and they rank among the top 10 in goals scored as a team.
If S-Pulse’s attack can lead them to victory, it would be a gigantic three points in their bid to play another season in J1.
S-Pulse currently sit 14th in the table, two spots clear of the promotion-relegation play-off place, but only a point ahead of Avispa Fukuoka, who hold 16th. With only three points separating them from 17th place and the automatic drop, the men in orange are desperate for any points they can muster down the stretch.
Will S-Pulse win those points that are so crucial to their survival and potentially end Frontale’s bid for the title? Or will the champions take full points and keep up their chase for yet another season on top?
We’ll find out on Saturday as the orange and blue clash in another fabulous week of Meiji Yasuda J1 League action!