A Kanagawa clash for the ages
Kawasaki Frontale have won the last two Meiji Yasuda J1 League titles and four of the last five, but their chances of winning yet another championship may be hinge on this weekend’s clash with league leaders, Yokohama F·Marinos.
Marinos have been in splendid form and look the favorites to win their first J1 title since 2019, but only a fool would bet against Toru Oniki's side, who have so often surprised against all odds.
It's going to be a huge occasion at the Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium and hopefully a Kanagawa Derby to remember.
Can Reysol keep their run going?
Kashiwa Reysol had a terrific start to the season, even reaching the top of the table in what was a massive surprise given where they were last year as a club.
While some saw their slide out of the top four as a return to form, the Yellow and Black never saw themselves as incapable of competing at the top. They are now showing it once again, having won three in a row and vaulting up to third in the table.
With the season entering its third trimester, there is no questioning anyone’s quality anymore, and Reysol are making a determined push into the AFC Champions League places. This weekend's meeting with Kyoto Sanga F.C. is a big test and a chance to see if they can keep their run going against a team winless in their last four.
Could Shonan or Consadole fall into relegation fight?
Shonan Bellmare cleared out of the relegation fight a few weeks ago and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo have never been in the battle to stay up this season, but the loser of Sunday’s clash between the two sides could find themselves fighting for survival.
Shonan are in 13th place and Consa 14th, but they’re level on 25 points, just three clear of the drop zone. Shonan suffered defeat last week, but had been on a nice unbeaten streak before that, and are eager to gain momentum once again and prove the run was no fluke.
The relegation fight could gain another team this weekend, with all eyes on Hiratsuka.