Match of the Week: Vissel head to Fukuoka with both teams trying to fend off the drop

Match of the Week: Vissel head to Fukuoka with both teams trying to fend off the drop

It's been a trying campaign for both Vissel Kobe and Avispa Fukuoka, as both sides come face-to-face in Matchweek 31, desperate to avoid a pull further toward relegation danger.

Vissel and Avispa have both spent time in the drop zone this season, but wins last time out ensured they would sit outside of the bottom three for this clash. They are not yet safe, though, with the end of the season right around the corner and plenty of work left to do if they want to stay in the top flight.

That work continues this weekend, when the Ushi head to Fukuoka and hope to extend their fine form, having won their last two and taken points in four of their last five.

Takayuki Yoshida has engineered a surge just when Vissel needed it most, moving from the bottom up to 13th place thanks to a vastly improved defense. The boss who took over well into the summer has solidified his team at the back, allowing only four goals in the last five matches.

In addition to an improved defense, Vissel have also benefited from clutch late scoring. Yuya Osako did the honors last time out against fellow relegation battlers Gamba Osaka, scoring in the 83rd minute and again in stoppage time to bring his team from behind for the win and out of the relegation zone.

On the other side, Avispa’s recent form has seen them stitch together some high-powered attacking performances and some excellent defensive play, but they’ve struggled to do both in the same match. Yuya Yamagishi has been great up front and there are instances of rock solid defense, so the ingredients are there - it’s about putting it all together over the course of 90 minutes.

If Avispa can do so this weekend and take home all three points, it will be a big lift in their fight to stay up. Currently in 14th place, only one point clear of the drop, if this matchup isn't a must-win, it's mighty close.

Who will come out on top? We’ll find out this weekend in Fukuoka!