J.League Preview: Omiya Ardija out to maintain lead as action returns
Omiya Ardija will look to move further clear at the top of the J.League when they take on Sagan Tosu in the first domestic games since May.
Action in Japan was brought to a halt as the national side embarked ona run of FIFA World Cup qualifiers, which saw them secure a spot at Brazil 2014, before heading to the South American nation for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
The league leaders come into the game on the back of a 3-0 win over Sagan Tosu at the end of May, with two goals coming from striker Milivoje Novakovic, and will hope that long break has not dented their momentum.
The 34-year-old Slovenian has totted up seven goals for the season so far, and had scored six goals in as many games before the break.
Urawa Reds will be hoping their fellow Saitama side slip up, however, as they look to close the five-point gap when they face Ventforet Kofu.
Despite their last league game ending in a 1-1 draw, they had won both the previous two 6-2 and will surely have cultivated confidence from those results.
Saturday’s matches will also see an important fixture for Shonan Bellmare who can move out of the bottom three if they can find a win against Vegalta Sendai.
The Hiratsuka side have not tasted victory in their last three games in all competitions and will need to find form once again if they want to remain in the top flight.
Yokohama F.Marinos will also hope for some movement in the table when they take on rock-bottom Oita Trinita as they can potentially reach second place if they avoid defeat.
Yasuhiro Higuchi’s side have won their last four competitive games and beat title rivals Kashima Antlers 3-1 in the J.League Cup last week.
Antlers can also gain a top-three spot if they overcome Kawasaki Frontale away from home, and in the last round they came back from 2-0 down to beat FC Tokyo 3-2.
Mid-table clashes see Albirex Niigata take on Kashiwa Reysol and Nagoya Grampus Eight come up against Shimizu S-Pulse.
Jubilo Iwata will have the opportunity to move up the league when they face Cerezo Osaka and Sanfreece Hiroshima also have the chance to leapfrog a number of teams when they travel to FC Tokyo.