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J.League Preview: Hiroshima can still defend title
Dec 05, 2013 2:52 AM EST
Sanfrecce Hiroshima can still steal the title off Yokohama F Marinos if results fall their way in the final J.League round on Saturday.
Yokohama had the opportunity to win the title on the last matchday but their 2-0 home loss to Albirex Niigata coupled with Hiroshima's 1-0 victory over Shonan Bellmare means the title race is still alive.
With all kick-offs at the same time on Saturday, second-placed Hiroshima will need to defeat third-placed Kashima Antlers to have any chance of winning the championship.
If Hiroshima win and Yokohama fail to defeat fifth-placed Kawasaki Frontale, Sanfrecce will defend their J.League crown won in 2012.
Kashima are still mathematically in the hunt to lift the title but are currently three points and nine goals worth of goal difference behind Yokohama.
Only Yokohama is guaranteed an AFC Champions League position, while Hiroshima and Kashima currently occupy the other two positions but will be vulnerable to challenges from Kawasaki, Urawa Reds and Cerezo Osaka, with the latter two squaring off on the last matchday.
No teams can avoid relegation, with Shonan Bellmare, Jubilo Iwata and Oita Trinita already condemned to J2 League campaigns in 2014.
In other final round matches, Tokyo will host Vegalta Sendai, Shonan Bellmare welcome Omiya Ardja and Nagoya Grampus are on the road at Albirex Niigata.
Ventforet Kofu lock horns with Sagan Tosu, Shimizu S-Pulse faces Kashiwa Reysol and Jubilo Iwata meets Oita Trinita.