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J.League Preview: Urawa Reds look to close gap on Omiya Ardija

Omiya Ardija will attempt to get back to winning ways when they host Nagoya Grampus at the NACK5 Stadium on Wednesday.

The J.League leaders, who have lost just once this season, were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Sagan Tasu on Saturday.

Takuya Aoki put Ardija ahead in the first half, but a late intervention from Kei Ikeda denied them all three points.

Despite the setback, they remain three points clear of Urawa in second, who will be looking to capitalise on any Ardija slip-ups as they welcome Tokyo to the Saitama Stadium 2002.

They are currently on a six-match unbeaten run in the league including their 1-0 success away to Ventforet Kofu last time out.

But they will be wary of coming up against one of the J.League’s leading marksmen in Kazuma Watanabe, the Japanese currently has nine goals from his 13 appearances.

Yokohama F Marinos currently occupy third spot and an AFC Champions League qualification position, but they face a tough fixture away to sixth place Cerezo Osaka at the Kincho Stadium.

They could only muster a 1-1 draw at home to bottom side Oita Trinita on Saturday, and will be keen to improve on that result to maintain their title challenge.

Trinita welcome Vegalta Sendai to the Oita Bank Dome, with the away side looking to arrest a run of four league games without a win.

But they will take confidence from their 1-0 victory against Trinita in the J.League Cup in May.

Fellow relegation strugglers Jubilo Iwata and Shonan Bellmare have home matches against Albirex Niigata and Kashiwa Reysol respectively, while 15th plays 14th as Sagan Tosu host Ventforet Kofu at the Tosu Stadium.

Elsewhere, Shimizu S-Pulse travel to the Kashima Soccer Stadium to face the Kashima Antlers and Sanfrecce Hiroshima welcome Kawasaki Frontale to the Edion Stadium.

Mon 8 July, 2013
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