Sunday sees all J2 teams play their 16th game of the season.
Vissel Kobe host currently woeful Gainare Tottori in a game in which you would be hard pressed to see anything other than a home win. Vissel might elect to stick with Koki Arita who came off the bench to score two goals in their win at Ehime last week. Gainare are coming into this game on the back of a 6-0 drubbing at home at the hands of Montedio Yamagata are have been in freefall for the last six or seven weeks. Vissel can call on a vast array of attacking talent so this could be a painful one for Gainaman and friends.
Gamba Osaka head to Shikoku to take on Ehime FC at the Ningineer Stadium. Gamba hammered Gunma last week, with Paulinho looking rather spritely in attack. On their day Gamba can out attack anyone and Ehime must be wary given that Vissel stuck four past them and could easily have hit seven or eight.
A big game takes place at Isahaya where V-Varen Nagasaki host a JEF United team that have won their last four games, despite being relatively unimpressive in those games. It will be interesting to see how Varen react to last weekend’s home defeat by Kyoto Sanga. Is this the beginning of their descent into mid-table? Or will they front up and show us that they are in the play-off race for real?
Tochigi FC host a flailing Yokohama FC at the Green Stadium. Tochigi were very impressive in the wild conditions in Kumamoto last week, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone hit the ball as hard as Cristiano does – once he hits it, it stays hit. Yokohama missed a glorious chance to pull away from the bottom when they blew a lead at Giravanz last week. Miura and friends have only won of their last seven but will find it tough going in north Kanto. Fellow play-off dwellers Fagiano Okayama welcome Roasso Kumamoto to their Kanko Stadium and the home side will look to extend their unbeaten home run to 16 games – a run that stretches back to July last year.
Montedio Yamagata, fresh off their thumping of Gainare Tottori, play Kyoto Sanga. Sanga knocked off Nagasaki last week but in confident Montedio they face another difficult away game.
Down at the bottom, FC Gifu travel to the Level 5 stadium to face Avispa Fukuoka. Avispa claimed a very creditable win in Toyama last week thanks to Funayama’s beautiful free-kick while Gifu were soundly beaten in Mito. On paper it looks like another very difficult task for Gifu to get anything out of the game.
In a big relegation clash, a #relegationdogfight if you will, Thespa Kusatsu Gunma host Giravanz Kitakyushu in Gunma. Kitakyushu are winless in their last eight outings while the home side have lost nine of their previous eleven. Needless to say, the two teams coming in to this game are not in good form at all. Kataller Toyama have, somewhat predictably, slipped from their lofty early season position to be within touching distance of the teams at the bottom and they head to Matsumoto Yamaga to try and prevent Yamaga claiming their first home win of the year.
Tokyo Verdy face another test of their promotion/play-off credentials when they head to Tokushima Vortis. Verdy could easily have won their game in Sapporo last week, but will have ultimately been happy to get back to Tokyo with a point after being behind. This week they face a Vortis team that have alternated wins a and losses in their last seven games. Finally, a mid table clash takes place in Hokkaido when Consadole Sapporo entertain Mito Hollyhock.