Omiya Ardija remain top of the league despite taking only one point at home, from J League strugglers Sagan Tosu. The competition leaders failed to finish the solid first half and had their Slovenian manager frustrated, “It’s difficult to explain why we kept the ball and played well in the first half but not in the second, and it’s disappointing.” After a six week forced hiatus the top tier of Japanese soccer returned to our lives, and the one constant that the league provides remains; the tightness of the competition.
In a logjam at the top are Omiya 33, Urawa 30, Yokohama 28 and defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima on 27. With another 20 matches to be played the season is far from over though. With their star studded line up Urawa loom large and their six match unbeaten streak should not be halted tonight when the J League continues. They play at home in Saitama against an inconsistent FC Tokyo.
Meanwhile league leaders Omiya host Nagoya Grampus at Nack 5 Stadium. Nack 5 is a boutique 15,300 seat stadium in Saitama, the same prefecture as their nearest rivals Urawa. The Squirrels will be expected to get the money against a Nagoya outfit that has won just one out of it’s last five. Poignantly it was over the weekend that Nagoya won. As stated earlier this season by East Asian Soccer Stojkovich’s time at Nagoya is definitely getting nearer to an end. Dwelling in 13th place on 15 points, the Nagoya manager will need a massive mid season turn around to stave off the boo-boys and a sacking. A stat to remember though is that Omiya haven’t defeated Nagoya at home since 2007. Also pivotal for those who like to invest on J League matches is the likelihood of Zlatan Ljubijankic being back in action today.
Yokohama F Marinos could only manage a draw against newly promoted Oita Trinita. Their equaliser came via Hyodo after a Nakamura corner wasn’t cleared effectively. The midfielder smashed home a drive from outside the box to spare the blushes of the Tri Colours. F Marinos travel to Osaka to face the pink half of the former Japanese capital (the famous Gamba Osaka now residing in J2). Cerezo Osaka are coming off a draw with Jubilo Iwata who are battling away in the relegation zone.