Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 25

Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 25

Can Frontale keep the pressure on Marinos?

Kawasaki Frontale pulled off their biggest win of the season last week, toppling league leaders Yokohama F·Marinos in stunning fashion and kicking off their proper title push. They’re now just eight points off the top, with two matches in hand, putting them in position to make a strong run at an unprecedented fifth Meiji Yasuda J1 League title in the last six years.

The key for Frontale now is to continue racking up wins and that begins this weekend against Kyoto Sanga F.C.

The champions have not won consecutive matches since May, so stringing together the results they need to chase down Marinos has been a difficult task in Kawasaki, but last week’s win opened the door for them to give it another run. Let’s see if they can win two in a row and begin to make this another spectacular fight for the championship.

Vissel need to find their form again

It looked like Vissel Kobe had turned their season around when they put together three straight wins in July. That great run moved them not only off the foot of the table, but out of the relegation zone entirely.

Since then, though, they have followed it up with a three-match winless run that has them back to the bottom. That means the Ushi have just 10 matches left to avoid the drop and are going to be increasingly desperate for victories.

That all starts this weekend, when they travel northward to take on Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, a team they beat, 4-1, earlier this season in one of their best performances of the campaign. Andrés Iniesta bossed the midfield as four different players scored in that win and they’ll need a similar performance on Saturday at the Sapporo Dome to kickstart their sprint to safety.

Can Gonda save Shimizu?

Shuichi Gonda is a Meiji Yasuda J1 League superstar and the top goalkeeper for the Japan National Team. He’s a shot stopping marvel and he has flashed some of his very best play in 2022, starring for club and country.

Despite Gonda’s imposing presence in goal, though, Shimizu S-Pulse have the second-worst defensive record in the top flight. Their leaky rearguard has landed them in a relegation fight and has demanded perfection of Gonda on the matches where they have been good enough to earn a result.

That may end up being the case again this weekend, when S-Pulse take on Gamba Osaka in a massive relegation six-pointer. With the Black and Blue winless in their last five in the league and equally eager to escape the drop, they will be attacking in droves; how good Gonda is at repelling those attacks could be the difference between Shimizu staying up or going down at the end of the season.