Three things to watch: Matchweek 9

Three things to watch: Matchweek 9

Kashima aim to retake the top spot

Kashima Antlers’ reign atop the table lasted only a week, as a defeat last time out dropped them to third, but they can move back into pole position with a win on Sunday against Nagoya Grampus. Their attack went quiet in their last game and the defense was undone late, but a rebound into top form this weekend should see them reemerge as league leaders.

Nagoya have yet to pick up a point away from home so getting a result against Kashima would be a change of fortune. They will need a big performance to knock off the Antlers whose star forward Ayase Ueda just took home Konami Monthly MVP honors for February and March.

Sanfrecce looking to stay hot

Sanfrecce got off to a slow start this season, failing to win any of their first five matches, but they’ve found their form of late. They are winners of three straight matches, with three straight clean sheets.

Sanfrecce have done it against good teams, too, with their streak including a win over Yokohama F·Marinos. A trip to Júbilo Iwata this weekend will be an opportunity for Sanfrecce to make it four wins from four and push them as high as top five in the table.

Bellmare try to carry cup form into league

It’s been a rough start to the season for Shonan Bellmare in the league, sitting bottom of the table and now eight matches without a win. Despite their struggles, they are only four points from escaping the drop zone and are coming off of yet another win in the J.League YBC Levain Cup, where they are top of their group.

Shonan have shown in the cup they can get the job done, especially in the attack, with seven goals in four matches. If they can start finding the back of the net like that in the league then results are bound to follow, along with a climb up the table.

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