Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 28

Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 28

Another matchweek is here, so let's break down a trio of things worth keeping an eye on!

Vissel, Sanga battle for safety

Vissel Kobe may have a star-studded lineup, but they remain second from the bottom, still squarely in the relegation zone. The prospect of playing next season in the Meiji Yasuda J2 League is starting to get more real by the day, with every point crucial now as the 2022 campaign reaches its thrilling conclusion.

The Kobe club's opponents this weekend, Kyoto Sanga, are very much relegation rivals, sitting in 15th and only clear of the drop on goal difference.

With both teams fighting for their place in the top flight next season, the desperation will be clear when they clash at SANGA STADIUM by KYOCERA on Saturday night.

The Ushi enter in better form, having won their last league match back on August 13, before they put in a pair of decent performances in the AFC Champions League knockout stages. That stands in stark contrast to Sanga, who have not won in the league since July 2.

Form only means so much, though. This season has been filled with teams in the relegation battle turning from long losing streak to long unbeaten streak. While Vissel will surely be hoping their form carries over, Sanga know that one result is all they need to kick on.

It should make for a feisty game in Kyoto, and possibly a monumental one in this season's battle for survival.

Urawa, Kashima going in opposite directions

Urawa Reds and Kashima Antlers have been living very different lives of late.

Urawa have been among the best teams in J1, losing only one of their last 10 in the league and showing cup excellence as well, rolling through the AFC Champions League knockout stages to earn a berth in the continental championship final.

Meanwhile, Kashima have been trending downward, with only one win in their last eight. That stretch has led to a change in manager and caused a big shakeup in the team.

Despite Urawa’s excellence and Kashima’s struggles lately, Antlers still sit fourth in the league table to the Reds’ ninth. The teams’ performances early in the campaign still reflect in the table, but where they finish will depend on how they end the season. Can Urawa get three big points in Ibaraki to continue their climb and match the pace they set in AFC Champions League action the past couple weeks?

Will we see a Thai Derby?

The Thai Derby is potentially back!

The recent signings of Supachok Sarachat and Chaowat Veerachart brought two more Thai players into the Meiji Yasuda J1 League and now those two stars could square off when Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo and Cerezo Osaka meet this weekend.

Supachok has already made an impact at Consa since joining the team in August, notching an assist minutes into his debut and proving to be a spark off the bench. Chaowat has not yet debuted for Cerezo since signing with the team, but this weekend could be his breakthrough.

The Meiji Yasuda J1 League has a long history of great Thai players, from 2019 J1 winner Theerathon Bunmathan to current Kawasaki Frontale attacking ace Chanathip Songkrasin. They’ve put on some terrific Thai Derbies in years past and now with Supachok and Chaowat in the league, we could get some more as Thai talent continues to flourish in the J.League!