Meiji Yasuda J1 League Match-day 9 will take place on August 8 and 9. With almost a fourth of the season completed and the title race starting to shape up, the battle for the championship is heating up.
League leaders Kawasaki Frontale try to extend their seven-game winning streak as they host Oita Trinita. Last week they struggled against Gamba Osaka but picked up three points in the end by showing the ability to win a difficult game with a narrow margin. Ryota Oshima continues to play an important role not only in creating chances but also in finishing. The away side Oita are in a poor form, losing the last four games and conceding four goals in two consecutive matches. It will be a difficult task to stop Kawasaki’s powerful attack, but patience and counterattacks could give them a chance.
Second-place Cerezo Osaka meet FC Tokyo at home after beating Shonan Bellmare 1-0 last week, thanks to the winner scored by Hiroshi Kiyotake. Since the best defense in the league remains very solid, this game probably will not see many goals. FC Tokyo have not won the last three games and need to improve their defense which conceded six goals during that period.
Third-place Gamba Osaka face Yokohama FC at home. They lost the big match against Kawasaki last week, ending their four-game winning streak. As their patient defense is working well, attackers need to step up to help them with goals. Yokohama FC are having a hard time, losing four games in a row. Their attack needs more firepower because they have not scored in the last three games. Perhaps Leandro Domingues, who made his first appearance of the season, could bring a change.
Kashiwa Reysol are now at the fourth place after four consecutive victories and they will travel to Nissan Stadium to face Yokohama F.Marinos this weekend. Olunga is in a great form and leading the team, scoring 7 goals in the last four games. It’s hard to stop the Kenyan striker who boasts incredible finishing. Meanwhile, Yokohama F.Marinos are showing signs of improvement and defeated Vegalta Sendai last week. Since the fitness of last year’s top scorer Marcos Junior is getting better, the performance of the two foreign strikers could directly affect the result.
Nagoya Grampus lost to Kashiwa Reysol on the last match-day and suffered the first defeat of the season. Their defense remains reliable, but the attacking department leave something to be desired. Expectations are high for Mu Kanazaki who is yet to score his first goal of the season. The away side Urawa Reds failed to beat Shimizu S-Pulse last week, conceding an equalizer late in the game. Leonardo has scored in the last two games and he could be a key player to break Nagoya’s solid defense.
Shimizu S-Pulse host Hokkaido Consaole Sapporo. They had a rough start of the season but have not been beaten for three games. Shimizu showed strong character to equalize in the last minute against Urawa and they would want to show the same strength at home as well. Sapporo suffered their first defeat since the restart of the league against Vissel Kobe last week. Although they have a lot of injuries among attackers, Takuma Arano is starting to produce results as a striker.
Kashima Antlers comfortably defeated Oita Trinita on the last match-day to claim their second victory of the season. This week, they meet Sagan Tosu at home. Brazilian striker Everaldo is in a great form, scoring five goals in the last four matches. Tosu also showed improvement by beating FC Tokyo to register their first win of the 2020 J1 campaign. The performance of young players like Kaisei Ishii is giving energy to the team.
Vissel Kobe meet Vegalta Sendai at home. They picked up the first three points in three games last week by beating Sapporo. Hotaru Yamaguchi, who scored a brace, is a player to watch. Sendai have not won the last six matches, losing the last three. They might need a big tactical change to solve both their defensive and offensive issues.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima meet Shonan Bellmare at home after securing their first win in five matches last week by beating Yokohama FC. The power of youngsters such as Shunki Higashi will be an important factor for their potential comeback. Shonan Bellmare sit at the bottom of the table with only one victory. In the serious shortage of goals, expectations are high for veteran striker Naoki Ishihara.