Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 20

Three Things to Watch: Matchweek 20

Ueda's departure impacts more than title race

Ayase Ueda leads the Meiji Yasuda J1 League scoring chart with 10 goals and he has been a key ingredient in Kashima Antlers' success this season.

His move last week to Cercle Brugge in Belgium not only has a big impact on his former club's J1 title ambitions, though, but also the Top Scorer race.

Kyoto Sanga’s Peter Utaka holds the scoring lead among current J1 players with nine goals, with Shuto Machino behind him on eight, and a pair of Yokohama F·Marinos Brazilians, Anderson Lopes and Léo Ceará, with seven.

With Ueda off to Europe, it’s going to be a tougher road to the title for Kashima and a tense race to the prestigious honor of Top Scorer for forwards around the league.

Relegation rivals all playing well

The relegation fight was set to be a barn burner, but it’s now looking like it could be even better than we imagined as all the teams towards the bottom of the table find some fine form.

Shonan Bellmare have climbed out of the drop zone with points from four of their last five games, while 16th- and 17th-place rivals Júbilo Iwata and Shimizu S-Pulse have gotten results in two of their last three.

Vissel Kobe are still at the bottom, but they looked excellent over the weekend in their first game under new boss Takayuki Yoshida, beating Sagan Tosu, 2-0.

With the teams at the bottom playing well and racking up points, the relegation battle is sure to be a real treat.

Goals all around

J1 has had some big scoring weeks lately and it continued over the weekend with 28 goals in nine matches. It was a matchweek that featured some particularly elegant attacking play, including a host of chances that didn't go in but showcased brilliant work in transition, clever movement in the final third, and some beautiful skill that demanded perfection of opposing defenses.

As the weather heats up in Japan, so is the action on the pitch, with chances flying in left, right, and center. Let's see if it continues on Matchweek 20!