FC Tokyo – Vegalta Sendai
FC Tokyo have recently announced the dismissal of Yoshiyuki Shinoda due to very poor results in recent weeks as FC Tokyo have lost five games in a row. He will be replaced by Takayoshi Anma for the rest of the season. Hosts will face Vegalta Sendai without five players as Muroya, Morishige, Tanabe, Hiraoka, and Sasaki are all recovering from injuries. The mood in the team is very low at the moment as Tokyo have lost their last 5 games in a row and lost 9 goals in their last two matches. They have dropped to 10th position and lost any chances of securing a place in top 6. Hosts are expected to be really determined on Saturday to end their poor streak of results but beating the -0.5 handicap may be hard to achieve as Vegalta are in good form. FC Tokyo have scored only three goals in their last three games, despite having players such as Utaka and all-time top scorer Okubo. Players are under pressure to prove their value on Saturday and impress their new manager, which should make this game fairly open and make beating the 2.5 total goals line more likely. Three Vegalta Sendai players are out of action as Nagato and Kanakubo are still recovering from injuries and will not be available for Saturday’s game and Tomita is doubtful due to a hamstring injury. The atmosphere in the team is very good after beating Sagan Tosu 4-1 last week. Vegalta Sendai are currently separated by 12 points from the relegation zone, therefore, they are not under real pressure to beat Tokyo and bring home three points, however, a victory would give them some real comfort for the future games. Vegalta are clearly in better form and are arguably slight favorites for this match, therefore, the +0.5 handicap seems to be of good value. The visitors’ attacking department has been in very good form in recent games, as they have scored nine goals in their last four competitive matches. Considering that Tokyo’s defense has been really poor in recent weeks, beating the 2.5 total goals line seems to be probable. Team morale is pretty good at the moment as Vegalta have managed to win three out of their last five matches and defeated last week’s opponents Sagan Tosu 4-1, which allowed them to move to 12th place in the table. Visitors are currently 12 points above the relegation zone, therefore, they still need points in order to be sure of staying in J1 for another season. They are in much better form than the opposition and three points seem to be a possible option, although a draw would also be seen as a good result.
Prediction: Vegalta Sendai +0.50 Asian Handicap
Odds: 1.82 SBOBET
Shimizu – Kawasaki Frontale
Shimizu S-Pulse will face Kawasaki Frontale without six players as Inukai, Takeuchi, Kawai, and Matsuda are injured, and Iida is out because of health problems, while Matsubara is suspended. On the positive side Tiago Alves and Tae-Se Jong are back in the team, but slightly doubtful as they may not be fully fit. Shimizu have managed to win their last very important game against Ventforet Kofu which has significantly improved team morale. Shimizu’s current position is fairly comfortable, however, they still need points to be fully sure of staying in J1 and are given a +0.5 handicap. However, securing a positive result against Kawasaki, who are fighting for the title, may be very difficult. Shimizu’s attacking department is not in good form at the moment as they have scored only three goals in their last four games. They are aware of the fact of how dangerous Kawasaki’s attackers can be and may want to take a defensive approach for the game, which will make beating 2.75 not too likely. Five Kawasaki Frontale are unavailable for this game as Noborizato, Takeoka, Fitzgerald, Igawa, and Tanaka are still injured. The atmosphere had dropped down after losing 4-1 to Urawa Reds in the ACL and dropping out of the competition. However, Kawasaki have won 7 out of their previous 8 games, so team morale is still good. The visitors are in the race to win the league and expected to be very determined to win on Saturday and narrow the gap to the current leaders Kashima Antlers. They have much more potential than their opponents and beating the -0.5 handicap seems to be possible. Kawasaki’s attackers are in very good form at the moment as they have scored 11 goals in their last 4 games. They usually push for as many goals as possible, therefore, beating the 2.75 total goals line is quite likely from their perspective. The atmosphere is excellent at the moment as Kawasaki Frontale defeated one of the main contenders to win the league, Yokohama F. Marinos last week. They are now in 2nd position in the table with 6 points behind the leaders, Kashima Antlers. Kawasaki Frontale will be very determined to win on Saturday and narrow Kashima Antlers lead in the table. They are currently in very good form and any other result than three points would be a huge disappointment.
Prediction: Kawasaki Frontale -0.50 Asian Handicap
Odds: 1.79 Pinnacle
Albirex Niigata – Kashima
Two Albirex Niigata players are sidelined for the match against Kashima Antlers as Yano and Mori are still recovering from injuries and Galhardo is doubtful. Albirex are unbeaten in their last two league games, but are currently the last team in the table, with very little chances of staying in J1 for another season, so the atmosphere is really poor. Hosts have not won any of their last 11 games and are in 18th place with just 11 points earned in 25 games. They have managed to secure two draws in the last two fixtures, but are still 10 points behind Ventforet Kofu, who are just above the relegation zone. Given a +0.75 handicap, securing any points will be very difficult as they are facing the current leaders and reigning champions. Although hosts are under real pressure to secure a positive result, they are expected to have a lot of problems with scoring goals, as Kashima’s defense is second best in the league at present. Even if Albirex are able to break their opponents’ defense, they are more likely to stay consolidated and focused on defending their own goal, therefore, beating the 2.5 total goals line may be difficult. Kashima Antlers will face Albirex Niigata without two of their players as Pedro Junior and Machida are still ruled out because of injuries. Pedro Junior’s absence is particularly worrying for the manager as he is instrumental to the attacking department and will be very difficult to replace. On the positive side, Nishi and Leandro are back in the team. Visitors are in very good form at the moment, having won their last three consecutive league games and are leading the table with six points over Kawasaki Frontale and Kashiwa Reysol. Their players declare in the media that they are ready to do everything to repeat last year’s success and win the league for the second time in a row. They are firm favorites to win, thus beating the -0.75 handicap. Kashima’s attacking department is amongst the best in J1 and considering that only victory would be a satisfactory result for them, they are expected to push for goals against Albirex, with the goal line set at 2.5. They are facing the worst defense in the league, however, in case of winning by two goals they may want to save energy for the clash against Urawa Reds next week. Team morale is very good at the moment as Kashima have lost just 2 games in their last 19 consecutive matches and they are currently leading the table with 6 points over Kawasaki Frontale and Kashiwa Reysol. Visitors players are vocal in media that they are very determined to win the league for the second time in a row, and three points would be the only acceptable option for them on Saturday.
Prediction: Kashima -0.75 Asian Handicap
Odds: 1.81 SBOBET