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J.League Preview: Omiya targeting return to form

J.League leaders Omiya Ardija’s supremacy could be under threat if they do not return to winning ways against Kawasaki Frontale.

Zdenko Verdenik’s side suffered a 2-1 defeat to Yokohama F. Marinos last time out, seeing their advantage at the top cut to three points as a result.

And they are by no means guaranteed to rediscover their form against a Kawasaki side who have won four of their last five fixtures in the Japanese top flight and currently sit in seventh place.

Should Omiya suffer defeat, second-placed Sanfrecce Hiroshima – unbeaten in their last seven league fixtures – would move into top spot with a win against mid-table Vegalta Sendai.

Sanfrecce in fact sit just two points ahead of Urawa Reds and Yokohama F. Marinos, with the former occupying the third and final AFC Champions League qualifying berth ahead of an intriguing midweek meeting between the pair.

The two teams are level on both points and goal difference, but the Reds’ superior ‘goals for’ tally sees them in third prior to Wednesday’s game at Saitama Stadium 2002.

There is also plenty of intrigue at the bottom of the J.League, with several teams hoping to capitalise on opportunities to escape the relegation battle.

Nothing less than a win will do for rock-bottom Oita Trinita as they look to close the six-point gap between them and safety when they take on Nagoya Grampus at home.

Meanwhile, Jubilo Iwata sit just one place and four points above the league’s bottom team, but face an intimidating trip to take on fifth-placed Kashima Antlers.

Shonan Bellmare occupy the final relegation spot as they prepare to meet Albirex Niigata and will hope to drag Sagan Tosu and Ventforet Kofu into the mix should those teams fail to get results against Cerezo Osaka and Tokyo respectively.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, mid-table duo Kashiwa Reysol and Shimizu S-Pulse go head to head at the Kashiwa Hitachi Stadium.

Mon 15 Jul, 2013
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