This weekend’s fixtures see leaders Vissel Kobe travel to the Alwin Stadium to face Matsumoto Yamaga. Matsumoto, so strong at home last year, have failed to register a win in the first two home games this year and were very fortunate to escape with a draw in their last game against Nagasaki in which they needed a last minute penalty to square things up. Vissel lost their last away game at Kyoto and should view this game as a chance to stamp their authority on the division. In form Montedio Yamagata host Yokohama FC looking to record their fourth win in a row. Yokohama go to the ND Soft Stadium on the back of a late, late defeat against Okayama, and this is turning out to be an unpredictable season for second year coach Yamaguchi. Romero Franck is settling in nicely at Yamagata after his summer move from Mito and has scored in the last two games and his spiky influence in midfield is increasing. Look for Franck to try and dominate the midfield.
A north Kanto derby is on the slate in Utsunomiya as Tochigi SC host Thespa Kustasu Gunma while two falling teams face off at the Level 5 stadium where Avispa Fukuoka play Mito Hollyhock. Both Avispa & Mito are coming off the back of 1-0 home defeats and will be looking to get back on track.
Second placed Gainare Tottori go to V-Varen Nagasaki looking to keep their unbeaten start to the season going. V-Varen, whilst pleasing neutrals with their spirit and playing style, need to start putting points on the board as they currently sit in 20th place. In Matsuyama, 6th place Ehime FC play unbeaten Fagiano Okayama looking to remain in the top 6. Ehime have started the season better than most would have expected, but Okayama are unbeaten and coming off thier first win of the season. This should be a very interesting game at the Ningeer Stadium. In a basement battle, Tokyo Verdy welcome FC Gifu to the Ajinomoto stadium. Verdy have drawn their last four games and a winless. Gifu are also winless, as well as being goalless. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict an FC Gifu win. Quote me now, thank me later.
Gamba Osaka, who have drawn their last 3 games and are finding it tough to adjust to J2, make the long trip to Hokkaido to face Consadole Sapporo at Sapporo Dome. Consa are also finding the adjustment to J2 football tough, although they did gain a creditable victory last time out in Fukuoka. Sapporo will have Tatsuki Nara suspended after his red card in Kyushu while it remains to be seen if Gamba will call on the services of Japan internationals Yasuhito Endo and Yasuyuki Konno after their exploits in Jordan. Kyoto Sanga will be looking for a swift return to form after last week’s surprise setback in Toyama when they host a Tokushima Vortis side who have won their last two games. Aforementioned Kataller Toyama are currently in fourth place and they will look to keep pace with the leaders when they travel to Roasso Kumamoto. The Reds have come from behind in their last two games to games to get draws (against Gamba & Tokyo Verdy respectively) but will be looking to add to their solitary win when they face the Hokuriku side.
Finally, a battle of the Yellows will take place at the Fukuda Denshi Arena as JEF United host Giravanz Kitakyushu in a match-up of two of the more unpredictable teams in the division. JEF will be looking to help out their under pressure coach Jun Suzuki by getting him his first home victory of the season.
J2 fixtures 3/31
- Montedio Yamagata v Yokohama FC
- Tochigi SC v Thespa Kusatsu Gunma
- Matsumoto Yamaga v Vissel Kobe
- Avispa Fukuoka v Mito Hollyhock
- Roasso Kumamoto v Kataller Toyama
- Ehime FC v Fagiano Okayama
- Consadole Sapporo v Gamba
- JEF United v Giravanz Kitakyushu
- Tokyo Verdy v FC Gifu
- Kyoto Sanga v Tokushima Vortis
- V-Varen Nagasaki v Gainare Tottori