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The Big Match is here: table leaders Kawasaki Frontale vs second place Gamba Osaka! Plus, can Nagoya Grampus’ mighty defence, stop top scorer Olunga?

Sat, 1 Aug 2020 - 02:00 JST
The Big Match is here: table leaders Kawasaki Frontale vs second place Gamba Osaka! Plus, can Nagoya Grampus’ mighty defence, stop top scorer Olunga?

Meiji Yasuda J1 league Match-day 8 takes place over two days, on August 1st and 2nd. From this round, the regulation aimed to prevent COVID-19 contagion is eased and more matches between East and West Japan clubs will take place.

The main game is of course the leaders’ battle between the “Western Yokozuna” Gamba Osaka and the “Eastern Yokozuna” Kawasaki Frontale. The latter are Undefeated and will be challenged by Gamba, who sit in the second place only three points behind.Gamba moved up to the second in the table thanks to four consecutive wins. They earned a significant victory against Vissel Kobe in the last round and their top striker Takashi Usami has been improving. Will he find the net against the table leaders?

Kawasaki come from six straight wins. However, there is a bit of concern as the last two matches saw them conceding the first goal of the game. Despite that, their strength and capacity to come back in the second half is overwhelming, and Gamba will have to be vigil until the end of the match.

Third place Nagoya Grampus host Kashiwa Reysol. In the previous round, Grampus’ match versus Hiroshima was canceled as some members of the team and staff were confirmed positive at a COVID-19 test, and it might be seen if such experience will influence their performance. Their steady defenders, who have kept clean sheets in  their last three games will face Kashiwa’s powerful attackers. Reysol are in high spirits, coming from three consecutive victories. Since the league restarted, their forwards are in great shape, and have scored 12 goals. Olunga, who bagged a hat-trick in the previous match, and Hayato Nakama who has scored in three games in a row will be the players to watch.

Fourth place FC Tokyo host Sagan Tosu. The capital’s team hasn’t lost in their recent four games but they raked up only two points in the last two. On the other hand, Tosu haven’t won any match yet, and sit in the 15th place. They now started to score goals and some shy signs of improvement can be detected up front. Kaisei Ishii, who scored his first goal in the last match, will surely try to keep up with his good form.

Cerezo Osaka, who also are in fourth place will meet Shonan Bellmare. The Osakans come from two consecutive draws, but they boost a very solid defense. The issue remains their scoring ability: Ken Tokura and other attackers still must prove they can contribute consistently to the team’s victories. Shonan grabbed their first three points in the last round, but had experienced a huge lost against Kawasaki in the previous one. Nevertheless, it was good for Bellmare that Tarik finally opened his account in Japan. Expectations are high for him and Naoki Ishihara, who is in good form.

Urawa Reds host Shimizu S-Pulse. In the previous match, the home side defeated Yokohama FC and stopped their losing streak at two games. Veteran players such as Tomoaki Makino are expected to play an important role in this game. Shimizu seized their long-awaited first victory of the season on the last match-day by beating Oita Trinita. Their attacking football finally worked well and they scored four goals, which is the best record of the season for them, although they also conceded two.

Vegalta Sendai meet Yokohama F.Marinos at home. They haven’t won in five games and lost the last two. Sendai’s largest concern is about their defense, that conceded five goals in their last match. Marinos also lost in the previous game, against Consadole Sapporo. Their challenge is to improve the management of their high defensive line. Can they play an attacking match, while also controlling the opponents’ attacks?

Yokohama FC are losing vigor after a good start, and come from three consecutive losses. During these games, they conceded 11 goals. In order to get out of the situation, they need to manage to concede less goals, especially in the second half. On the other hand, Hiroshima will play their first game in 10 days since their previous match against Nagoya was postponed. They have not won in the last four games and currently lost two in a row. Will this long interval impair even further their struggling attacking unit? Be that as it may, Sanfrecce have defeated Nagoya Grampus in the Levain Cup this season, and will try to do it again.

Oita Trinita await Kashima Antlers at home. In the previous round, they allowed Shimizu to claim their first victory of the season, which also means that Trinita have now lost three in a row. The main concern is their defense, which conceded nine goals in the last three games. Kashima drew 2-2 with FC Tokyo in the last round. Their attack showed signs of recovery in the second half, and Everaldo, who finally seems fit, could be a key-player in this match.

Consadole Sapporo vs Vissel Kobe is the only match that will be played on Sunday. Sapporo defeated Yokohama F.Marinos in the previous match-day, which also means that the Hokkaido team are undefeated in six games. Although Suzuki Musashi is still absent due to injury, Consadole found goals from various patterns, and are likely to entertain with their lively football in their third consecutive home game. On the other hand, Kobe come from two games in which they could not score, and Douglas, Kyogo Furuhashi and the other attackers need to found back the way to the net.