Match of the Week: Top two clash as Antlers visit Marinos

Match of the Week: Top two clash as Antlers visit Marinos

The Meiji Yasuda J1 League is back in a big way this weekend, with a showdown between first and second place as Kashima Antlers travel to take on Yokohama F·Marinos in a monster clash.

The home side sit five points above Kashima in the table and have been atop the standings for months, thanks in large part to their fearsome attack, which has notched 48 goals so far — an astonishing 13 more than the next best club, the Antlers.

This weekend represents not only a crucial ‘six-pointer’ at the summit but a chance for Kashima to rebound from some rough results. The Antlers have won just one of their last five games as manager René Weiler looks for new solutions in attack following the departure of J1 leading scorer Ayase Ueda to Cercle Brugge in Belgium.

The Tricolor, by contrast, have been in scintillating form, led by the league’s hottest player, Léo Ceará, as well as Takuma Nishimura, who has eight goals on the campaign and was one of eight Marinos players on the Samurai Blue team that just claimed an East Asian title for Japan at the EAFF E-1 Football Championship. 

With the spotlight now back on domestic play, and the final third of the season ahead, this weekend is sure to be a crucial test in the title race — one that could bring Marinos one big step closer to a second championship in four years or drag them back towards Kashima and Kawasaki.