Meiji Yasuda J1 League Match-day 7 takes place on July 26, only three days after the previous round.
League leaders Kawasaki Frontale meet Shonan Bellmare at home. They came from behind to defeat Vegalta Sendai on Wednesday to achieve their fifth consecutive win. Yu Kobayashi is in a great from, scoring four goals in the two matches after returning from injury, and could once again be a key player. Shonan seized their first win of the season on the last match-day by beating Kashima Antlers. Good finishing from Naoki Ishihara, who scored two goals in the last two matches, will be crucial for the visitors.
Nagoya Grampus are now second in the table after winning three consecutive matches, and they face Sanfrecce Hiroshima away. While their solid defense kept a clean sheet in the last three matches, Hiroyuki Abe, Sho Inagaki and Takuji Yonemoto all got injured on Wednesday. Since it is unclear whether they will be available this weekend, the depth of the team will be tested. Meanwhile, Hiroshima failed to win in the last four matches. The attacking department, which produced only two goals during such period, needs to step up.
FC Tokyo failed to extend their two-match winning streak when they had a midweek draw at Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo. However, they raked up a point thanks to a late equalizer, and it would be important to continue to show the same resilience against Kashima. Antlers had claimed their first win of the season last week but lost to Shonan Bellmare afterwards. Since the struggling attacking unit is even more powerless with Ayase Ueda’s injury, Zago’s management skill will be under the microscope.
The Hanshin derby between Vissel Kobe and Gamba Osaka is one of the most interesting matches of the weekend. Kobe are showing consistency and are undefeated in four matches. After the goalless draw with Cerezo Osaka on the last match-day, fans are still waiting for Andres Iniesta’s first goal of the season. Meanwhile, Gamba Osaka are improving their form, winning the last three matches. They are able to play patiently, and grab three points by narrow margin victories, as proven by their 1-0 win against Hiroshima on Wednesday. This time they need to control Kobe’s attack through solid defense and take advantage of the chances they might create.
Cerezo Osaka travel to Sagan Tosu. While they are steadily picking up points, thanks to the best defense in the league, Cerezo’s attacking power leaves something to be desired. Yoichiro Kakitani is yet to score any goals this season but this weekend could be a turning point. Sagan Tosu have not won any match yet and currently sit in the 16th place. In the last round, Riki Harakawa has finally scored the team’s first goal of the season.
Kashiwa Reysol are improving their form, winning two consecutive matches after they had lost three in a row. In addition to the current top scorer Olunga, who scored five so far, new signing Hayato Nakama and Yuta Kamiya will catalyze the attention of the fans in their home match against Vegalta Sendai this weekend. The visitors failed to defend their two-goal lead against Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday. While their attack is working well, they need some adjustment to their defense, which conceded five goals in the last two matches.
Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo challenges Yokohama F.Marinos at home. On the last match-day, they drew 1-1 with FC Tokyo. As they tied in their last three matches, during which Musashi Suzuki has been absent due to injury, they need to work on their finishing to find a winner. Yokohama F.Marinos claimed their second victory of the season on Wednesday, claiming the Yokohama derby. It was a triumph marked by four goals and a clean sheet, that could give them great momentum.
Yokohama FC and Urawa Reds both lost their last match 4-0. They might start carefully, reflecting on the lessons learned. Yokohama FC’s largest concern is their defense, that conceded nine goals in the last two matches. Urawa have problem with their firepower, after failing to score in the last two matches. With both team going through a rough period, winning this match could make a big difference.
Finally, Shimizu S-Pulse, who are yet to win and sit at the bottom of the table, meet Oita Trinita at home. On Wednesday, the home side stopped the five-game losing streak by drawing with Sagan Tosu. Could it be the beginning of their comeback? Meanwhile, Oita are winless in three matches and lost to Nagoya 3-0 in the last match-day. Their fine build-up work is still there, but more versatile attack is needed to increase their scoring ability.