Vegalta Sendai were fortunate to avoid relegation last season, finishing second from the bottom and staying in the top flight only because nobody suffered the drop last year due to the pandemic. But this season relegation is going to happen and Vegalta are second from the bottom again, putting them in a desperate fight to keep their place in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE.

Being stuck near the bottom is not as familiar to Oita Trinita. Since being promoted to the top flight, they’ve been solidly mid-table and not in much relegation danger, but this season they’re third from the bottom and need to climb at least two places if they are to play in J1 again next year.

That sets the stage for this weekend, when Vegalta visit Oita. Trinita are five points from safety, while Vegalta are six points back and with just seven matches remaining in the campaign, they both desperately need to get results. A win this weekend will be a massive boost to either, while a loss will move them even closer to the drop.

Trinita enter the match in superior form, having managed two wins and a draw in their previous four contests. Their defense has been phenomenal in that stretch, allowing just one goal. Vegalta’s attack has been improving, though, as they’ve scored five goals in their last four matches.

Will Trinita’s defense hold up? Or will Vegalta continue finding the back of the net? Whichever wins out could determine who is playing in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE next season.