One game dominates the relegation landscape this weekend, but there are other important games on the slate too.
FC Gifu v Gainare Tottori (1pm KO)
This is not going to be pretty. Both teams are desperate for the win knowing the boost it would give to their survival hopes. The hosts will be without the suspended Hiroki Higuchi and so this could mean a starting berth for last weekend’s goal hero Blazhe Ilijovski. Gainare also have suspension issues with Eijirou Takeda suspended after his red card against Ehime FC last week.
Thespa Kusatsu Gunma v Tochigi SC (6pm KO)
Probably the last thing Thespa wanted was a “derby” game against a team that installed a new manager and promptly won a seven goal thriller, but it is what they have. Thespa will be without the suspended Hwang Song Su in their midfield, and will have to contend with the rocket-footed Cristiano, Tochigi’s shoot-from-anywhere Brazilian.
Mito Hollyhock v Roasso Kumamoto (4pm KO)
Roasso, fresh off their home win against Tokyo Verdy face another mid-table team with little but pride to play for. Mito are in a bit of a rut having lost their last three games, the last one being a 5-0 defeat at Banpaku against leaders Gamba Osaka. Mito will look to bounce back, but Roasso would be well advised to get after them from the beginning and treat it like a game they know they can win.
Kyoto Sanga v Kataller Toyama (3pm KO)
Can Kyoto follow up last weekend’s victory at JEF with a win over a side they are expected to beat? That has been the question all season for the wildly inconsistent Sanga. This game is being played in Kagoshima prefecture, so in essence it isn’t really a “home” game for for Sanga, and maybe Toyama will see this as an advantage. Kyoto are the vastly superior side, and it will take a strong effort from Kataller to get something from the game. BUT with Kyoto’s unpredictability, anything is possible.