Match to Watch: Relegation could be decided as Bellmare and Vortis square off

Match to Watch: Relegation could be decided as Bellmare and Vortis square off

Tokushima Vortis’ bid to avoid relegation may be decided this weekend when they visit Shonan Bellmare. Tokushima enter Saturday’s clash in the final relegation spot, but just three points back of Shonan and Shimizu S-Pulse with two matches to play.

One of those three teams will spend next season in J2. Bellmare can guarantee they remain in the top flight with a win, while that combined with a draw from S-Pulse against Urawa would clinch Vortis’ relegation.

If Vortis can top Shonan, however, they will enter the final weekend at least level with Bellmare and potentially S-Pulse too, setting up a spectacular close to the season.

The trick for Tokushima will be figuring out how to find the back of the net. They’ve struggled for goals all season, but they did score two last weekend in a victory over F.C.Tokyo as Joel Chima Fujita and Yuki Kakita led the way. If they can carry over that attacking verve, they have a good chance to upend Shonan. The Vortis defense has been in fine form, not conceding more than one goal in the last four matches and only doing so once in their last seven.

Things are even rosier at Bellmare, where strong all-around form has carried them in their current five-match unbeaten streak. They’re getting goals from all over the squad, while the defense has allowed just three goals in that stretch. It’s the best Shonan has played all year, as they’ve responded well to the pressure of the relegation fight and shone in the most important part of the season.

Will the relegation battle go down to the final week of the season? Or will Shonan Bellmare help send Tokushima Vortis down and cement their own safety? It’s all to play for at Lemon Gas Stadium Hiratsuka.