Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 18

Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 18

A top four clash in Yokohama

Yokohama F·Marinos have risen to the top of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League table, but they are hardly comfortable. Kashima Antlers and Kawasaki Frontale are only a point back of the Tricolor, while Kashiwa Reysol are within four points. It makes for a terrific title race and that fight will take centerstage on Saturday when Marinos and Reysol clash.

Kashiwa did a great job slowing down the explosive Marinos attack when these two teams met earlier this season en route to a 3-1 victory, but that came in February and before the Tricolor found their stride. Now, Reysol will have to turn away a Marinos attack that is humming if they want to close in on first place, setting the stage for a terrific battle between two teams who have won their last three in league play.

Gamba, Consa looking for a jolt

Both Gamba Osaka and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo have slumped a bit of late. They’ve each lost three in a row, but at least one team is going to break that slide this weekend when the two sides meet at the Sapporo Dome.

The issue for both teams recently has been leaky defenses, which means we could be in for an action packed game full of goals. If either team can manage to keep a clean sheet, it could be a massive dose of confidence and statement of intent as the second half of the campaign gets underway.

Goals, goals, goals

Speaking of which, last weekend was a goal fest in the Meiji Yasuda J1 League. There were 31 goals in the nine matches for an average of 3.4 goals per game.

Remarkably, the quietest game of the lot was Kashima's 1-0 win over Kyoto, which featured J1's top two scorers Ayase Ueda and Peter Utaka — neither of whom managed to find the back of the net.

We’ll see if the high scoring momentum carries into Matchweek 18, but as the weather heats up, it looks like the action is too in the Meiji Yasuda J1 League!