This weekend promises to be another good one in J2 with interesting, if not really eye-catching, games on the slate.
Leaders Vissel Kobe had their wings clipped at Kokuritsu last weekend and face their second trip to Shikoku of the season as they travel to face mid-table Ehime FC. While Ehime only sit 5 points off the top six, they aren’t that good and Vissel should be confident (but not over-confident) of getting back to winning ways.
Gamba Osaka were the main beneficiaries of Vissel’s defeat in the capital as they moved to within three points of the summit. Gamba will be hoping to ramp up the pressure on their Kansai rivals when they welcome lowly Thespa Kusatsu Gunma to Banpaku. Thespa find themselves in deep trouble at the foot of the table and have lost eight of their last ten games. If I asked the “Magic 8 ball” Are Gamba going to win?” it would say “all signs point to yes.” V-Varen Nagasaki snatched a late draw in Tochigi last week and they face another tricky assignment as the notoriously unpredictable Kyoto Sanga head west.
Fagiano Okayama, who surprisingly drew a blank in Tottori last week, welcome Tokushima Vortis to the Kanko Stadium hoping to rectify their misfires from their last game. JEF United have somehow, no-one quite knows how, sneaked into fourth place and are in decent form having won their last three. They will have a difficult game this week though as they entertain away-day specialists Matsumoto Yamaga and their traveling hordes. It is one of the mysteries of J2 that Matsumoto have been superb away from home, but are woeful at the Alwin Stadium. Anyway, it should be a good game at JEF’s Fukuda Denshi Arena.
Montedio Yamagata, who suffered a morale-draining defeat at home against Consadole last week, make the long trek to Gainare Tottori. Gainare haven’t won for 11 games and desperately need to get one on the board again quickly. Roasso Kumamoto play play-off hunting Tochigi SC in Kumamoto. Tochigi have suffered a slight dip in their last two, admittedly difficult, games but could relish the prospect of facing a team that have only won once at home all campaign.
Mito Hollyhock were comprehensively beaten by Tokushima last week, but they will be confident of getting back in the groove as they welcome cellar dwellers FC Gifu to K’s Denki Stadium. Kataller Toyama and Avispa Fukuoka were both on the wrong end of eerily similar results last week and they will face off in Toyama. Both Kataller & Avispa found themselves 3-0 down only to get back to 3-2 and nearly pull off great comebacks.
Avispa’s Kyushu neighbours, Giravanz Kitakyushu, are another team in trouble down at the bottom. Their draw in Matsumoto last week snapped a run a 6 straight defeats and they face a crucial match against Yokohama FC at Honjo. Yokohama themselves aren’t in great shape and they sit only 5 points above Giravanz. It is sure to be a nervy afternoon in Kitakyushu. Finally, Consadole Sapporo, minus hungover Tele, host Tokyo Verdy at Atsubetsu Park.