Match(es) to Watch: Trio of games to decide relegation battle

Match(es) to Watch: Trio of games to decide relegation battle

It’s the season’s final week and three teams are already set for relegation, but there’s one more drop spot to be determined. One of Shimizu S-Pulse, Shonan Bellmare or Tokushima Vortis will spend next season in the MEIJI YASUDA J2 LEAGUE, and which of the three go down will be decided this weekend.

S-Pulse are in the best position on 39 points, while Shonan and Vortis are three points back on 36. In the event that teams are level on points, Shonan have a massive advantage with only a -5 goal difference, well ahead of S-Pulse at -18 and Vortis at -19.

Not only are S-Pulse three points clear, but they play at home on Saturday. Cerezo Osaka visit Shizuoka, where the home side have been in fine form of late and only need a draw to clinch their spot in the top flight next season. A loss, however, combined with wins by Shonan and Vortis, will see them sent down to J2.

Bellmare are away to Gamba Osaka on Saturday, making for a tough finale to their season. Because of their huge lead on goal difference, a win functionally guarantees they avoid the drop. They’ll also be safe if they and Vortis both draw — and almost certainly safe if they both lose.

Tokushima are in the toughest spot because they are down on 36 points and don’t have any goal difference edge. They do play at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima, so they will have their home fans behind them, but they either need to win and have S-Pulse lose or better Bellmare’s result given Shonan’s massive edge in goal difference.

It will be a wild final day, with three concurrent matches to decide which two teams are staying up and which team will suffer the unfortunate drop. Will it be S-Pulse, Bellmare, or Vortis? We’ll find out Saturday.