It was quickly looking as if FC Tokyo would run away with the J-League. The leaders had built up an impressive seven-point lead at the top of the table after some of their top challengers slipped up in recent weeks.
However, it was FC Tokyo’s turn to stumble as they fell to top-five foes Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Their lead has suddenly been cut down to just four points after second-place Kashima Antlers picked up a big win of their own.
The top two will be in action once again this weekend, and both of their matches will be of massive importance. Kashima Antlers could have another opportunity to further cut into that lead as FC Tokyo face a tricky trip away to Hokkaido.
And in the third match for SBOBET J-League fans to watch out for, two of the teams that attract the most goals in the entire league are set to square off in a potentially high-scoring showdown.
Consadole Sapporo vs FC Tokyo
FC Tokyo’s grip at the top of the table just got a little bit weaker as they suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
In a match which didn’t feature too many J-League 2019 highlights — there were just 11 total shots — Yoshifumi Kashiwa’s strike just after the hour mark was enough to sink the leaders. The loss was Tokyo’s third in 15 home matches this season, with the other 12 victories.
They haven’t been nearly as effective away from home, though. They’ve won just three of their eight away matches (three draws, two losses), and have scored just seven goals. And as it so happens, they will have to play their next eight league matches away from home.
They begin what the Japanese media have dubbed “the road of death” with a trip to Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.
Sapporo are coming off one of the most impressive wins of the season as they absolutely thrashed Shimizu S-Pulse, 8-0, away from home. Veteran English striker Jay Bothroyd bagged a hat-trick in the remarkable win.
Those eight goals brought Sapporo’s tally for the season up to 39 goals scored, which is second in the league. Of those 39 goals, 23 have come at home in just 11 matches.
Sapporo are undefeated in their last six home matches (three wins, three draws) and will give the leaders all they can handle.
Kashima Antlers vs Gamba Osaka
Kashima Antlers were the big beneficiaries of FC Tokyo’s defeat last weekend. Antlers are now just four points from the top after their 1-0 away win over Oita Trinita. Yuki Soma scored the lone goal of the game, which also happened to be Antlers’ league-most 40th of the season.
Anthers are now set to go back home, where they have been nearly unbeatable this season. They have won an impressive nine out of 11 home matches (one draw, one loss), and haven’t lost there since the very first match of the season.
Kashima will have a perfect opportunity to further improve that home record — as well as keep pressure on FC Tokyo — as they host Gamba Osaka.
Gamba’s recent form has been quite odd. While they have lost just once over their last 10 matches, they have drawn six of those matches, including the last four in a row. In their most recent match, they failed to beat bottom-club Jubilo Iwata at home.
So while the J-League 2019 odds of a Gamba win aren’t great, Kashima Antlers must still be wary of dropping two valuable points at home.
Nagoya Grampus vs Yokohama F. Marinos
Yokohama F. Marinos have slowly but surely fallen off the title race. They were riding high in second just a few weeks ago but have since dropped down to fifth on the back of three straight defeats.
While their defeat away to Kashima Antlers was understandable, their home losses to Shimizu S-Pulse, as well as last week’s setback against Cerezo Osaka were less forgivable.
They will look to put an end to that poor skid against Nagoya Grampus, who are also in the midst of some horrific form. They have won just once in their last 10 matches, with four draws and five defeats.
Although, they have started turning things around and are now unbeaten in their last four after last weekend’s draw with Matsumoto Yamaga.
This matchup between Yokohama and Nagoya has the potential to be quite an entertaining affair. The two sides are among just three in the entire league that have both scored at least 35 goals and have surrendered 30, so there’s a decent chance at least a couple of goals will find their way in.
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