Match to Watch: Vissel and Urawa square off in crucial clash

Match to Watch: Vissel and Urawa square off in crucial clash

Kawasaki Frontale and Yokohama F·Marinos have a grip on the top two spots in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE, but third place and the automatic slot in next season’s AFC Champions League is still up for grabs.

This weekend we get a clash between fourth-place Vissel Kobe and fifth-place Urawa Reds, both of whom are within three points of third-place Nagoya Grampus. To put it simply: Urawa’s visit to Kobe on Saturday may be one of the most consequential of the season.

Ricardo Rodriguez-led Urawa head to Noevir Stadium Kobe as one of the league’s hottest teams, having gone unbeaten in 10 straight across all competitions. Their last three matches, all wins, have seen them score twice in each contest and five different players score those six goals. The entire attack is working, from the build up, to the creation, to the finishing, as everyone has involved themselves in all aspects. The Reds’ defense has stepped up to the challenge too, allowing just one goal in their last six league matches.

Vissel will have their hands full with Urawa, but they are hardly slouches. Atsuhiro Miura’s men are in fourth place for a reason and the boss has done a tremendous job reinventing the attack after the transfer of Kyogo Furuhashi to Celtic F.C. The midseason addition of Yoshinori Muto has paid dividends of late, with the star scoring in both of the last two matches. If he can keep that up, Vissel can lean on a defense that came into the season with questions, but has performed among the better back lines in the league. They are a truly well-rounded team and more than capable of matching Urawa.

What might separate two teams who can score, have proven capable in defense and have not shown any signs of buckling under the pressure of a huge fight for top places in the table? It just might be home field, in this case. It’s hard to find an advantage for either of these two excellent teams, but Vissel do get this one in front of their passionate fans, who could be the difference.

The end of the season is coming ever closer, with each matchweek a big opportunity to secure crucial points. That is especially true this weekend, with an AFC Champions League spot potentially on the line, in this MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE clash!