Football Tribe SEA Editor
With the international break done and dusted, the 2019 J.League 1 resumes hostilities today as we enter Matchweek 29. From Friday, October 18th to Saturday, October 19th, the 18 teams of J1 will fight it out as both the title race and the race to avoid relegation becomes more and more intense.
Today will see 3 matches being played out, as Matsumoto Yamaga welcome league leaders Kashima Antlers, Oita Trinita visiting the Saitama Stadium 2002 for a clash against Urawa Reds, and Cerezo Osaka going up north for a match against Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, while the remaining 6 matches will be played on Saturday.
Kashima’s visit to the Sunpro Alwin Stadium will be the perfect opportunity for the Antlers to create some distance between themselves and 2nd placed FC Tokyo who are playing on Saturday. The side from Ibaraki are two points ahead of FC Tokyo in the standings, and a win against relegation-threatened Matsumoto would ease Kashima towards the title with the end of the season coming closer and closer by each week. However Go Oiwa’s side must remain wary and focused, as Matsumoto will surely be playing their hearts and souls out in their bid to avoid relegation. Kashima may have dismantled Matsumoto 5-0 at the Kashima Soccer Stadium in the first half of the season, however, anything could happen in the return fixture, especially with Matsumoto eager to upset the favorites in front of their faithful fans.
Meanwhile, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, fresh from a 5-0 mauling at the hands of Gamba Osaka, welcoming the city’s other team Cerezo to the Sapporo Dome. Consadole will be sweating over the fitness of their Thai star Chanathip Songkrasin, who was injured in the warm-up before the Gamba match and thus missed out on the recent international break. Like Oita, Consadole are firmly in mid-table and are looking to consolidate themselves there, while Cerezo are gunning for points to ensure a finish within the top four. Only six points separate 7th placed Consadole from 6th placed Cerezo, so this promises to be a close encounter. However with Chanathip in doubt, Consadole will have to make do with what they have against the Cherry Blossoms of Osaka.
Buoyed by their wins over Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao and Shimizu S-Pulse before the international break, 10th placed Urawa Red Diamonds welcome 8th placed Oita Trinita to the Saitama Stadium 2002 in today’s late kick-off. The hosts are out to get more points in order to pull themselves out of the lower half of the table, while Oita are looking to consolidate themselves in mid-table after failing to win their last 2 league matches. Urawa manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki will be looking to shuffle his squad this weekend though, with a tough away trip to Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou for the second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League looming next midweek, so Oita will probably fancy their chances here.