East Asia Japan

The Three-Way Title Standoff Continues in Matchweek 32

Krishna Sadhana

Football Tribe SEA Editor


With the dust from the latest international break all settled down, the 2019 J.League 1 action resumes as it enters Matchweek 32, only three more matchweeks to go before the finish line! And with international duties over, it’s time for Kashima Antlers, FC Tokyo, and Yokohama F. Marinos to resume hostilities in fighting out for the J1 title this season. All 8 matches of Matchweek 32 will be played tomorrow (November 23rd), with the exception of Urawa Red Diamonds vs Kawasaki Frontale which has been played in advance on November 5th due to Urawa’s AFC Champions League commitments, which means that both teams will sit this Saturday out, however Urawa has the tough task of overturning a 1-0 deficit in the second leg of the ACL final on Sunday at the Saitama Stadium 2002 to look forward to.

Kashima face a tough test away from home on Matchweek 32, taking on Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the Edion Stadium Hiroshima. Matchweek 31 saw Kashima losing at home 2-0 at the hands of Kawasaki Frontale, which, coupled with wins by FC Tokyo and Yokohama on the same matchweek, saw Kashima relinquishing top spot to FC Tokyo with Yokohama occupying 2nd. Now 3rd, Go Oiwa’s men are more than determined to reclaim that top spot. However Sanfrecce are no pushovers – currently 6th in the league, the men in purple are looking to derail Kashima’s title hopes in order to cement themselves in the top half of the table.

After playing their last 8 J1 games away from home, FC Tokyo are more than delighted to make their return to the Ajinomoto Stadium, hosting a dire-looking Shonan Bellmare side as they look to distance themselves from both Yokohama and Kashima. With the opposition having lost 5 of their last 5 games and their key players firing on all cylinders, Kenta Hasegawa’s Gasmen are more than relishing the chance to get themselves three more points. Regulars Sei Muroya, Kensuke Nagai, Kenta Hashimoto and Diego Olivera are set to retain their spots in the starting lineup, with both Nagai and Diego looking forward to tore the vulnerable Shonan defense into pieces. As for Shonan, for them to have any hope in fighting off the threat of relegation, they must throw their form-book out of the window and be at their utmost best at the Ajinomoto tomorrow. Anything is possible in football, so don’t write Shonan off just yet even though the odds are firmly stacked against them.

Yokohama will play their Matchweek 32 game away from home, visiting relegation-threatened Matsumoto Yamaga at the Sunpro Alwin Stadium. On paper this should be a walk in the park for Ange Postecoglou’s men, however despite their lowly position on the table, Matsumoto are a side not to be underestimated. The Nagano Prefecture-based side has taken off points from a number of teams above them – Kashima, Cerezo Osaka, Vissel Kobe, Urawa, Kawasaki, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo to name a few. In fact, during their meeting in the first half of the season, Yokohama could only eke out a scrappy 1-0 win at home over the newly promoted side. Matsumoto are very determined to play their hearts out in their fight against relegation and in order to have a shot in the J1 title, Yokohama must be wary of said determination or otherwise their other two rivals would find the opportunity to leapfrog them.

Matchweek 32’s other matches sees Shimizu S-Pulse welcoming Oita Trinita to the IAI Stadium Nihondaira, an exciting Kansai Derby between Vissel Kobe and Cerezo Osaka at the Misaki Park Stadium, relegation-battling Sagan Tosu visiting Nagoya Grampus, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo hosting bottom side Jubilo Iwata at the Sapporo Dome, and Gamba Osaka facing-off against Vegalta Sendai at the Panasonic Stadium Suita.