J League Preview: Leaders travel to bottom club, Jubilo Iwata could be relegated
By Football News
Yokohama F. Marinos will look to maintain their position at the top of the J League when they travel to already relegated Oita Trinita.
Marinos, who climbed back to the top of the table with a 1-0 win over title rivals Sanfrecce Hiroshima last weekend, are unbeaten in five league matches and hold a two-point lead at the summit.
Their opponents won for just the second time this season at the weekend to end a run of six successive defeats, but remain seven points adrift of second-from-bottom Jubilo Iwata.
Jubilo could have their relegation confirmed at the weekend if they lose at home to mid-table Shimizu S-Pulse and Ventforet Kofu are victorious in their home fixture with Tokyo.
Third-placed Sanfrecce have the opportunity to return to the summit for 24 hours at least with a win at home over Vegalta Sendai on Saturday, although that will be no easy task against a side currently enjoying a five-match unbeaten league run.
In second are Urawa Reds, who will be hoping to keep the pressure on the leaders when they play host to Kashiwa Reysol, winners for the first time in seven league games last time out.
Cerezo Osaka find themselves just outside the top three and hoping to challenge for the AFC Champions League spots. They travel to 14th-placed Sagan Tosu hoping to bridge the three-point gap to Sanfrecce.
Kashima Antlers, level on points with Cerezo, host sixth-placed Kawasaki Frontale, who have won their last three matches. Kashima's own run of three straight wins ended last week with defeat at home to Urawa.
Shonan Bellmare, who currently occupy the final relegation berth, take on Albirex Niigata hoping to reduce the five-point gap between themselves and safety.
Elsewhere, two out-of-form teams go head-to-head as Nagoya Grampus, winless in six, host an Omiya Ardija side that have lost all of their past five league matches.