J-League Preview: Gamba, Kawasaki clash again

Gamba Osaka and Kawasaki Frontale will meet for the third time in 10 days, in a clutch J-League clash.

Kenta Hasegawa's Gamba advanced past Kawasaki 5-4 on aggregate in their two-legged J-League Cup semi-final, winning the home leg 3-1 before a 3-2 loss on the road.

Gamba are also on a six-match winning streak in the Japanese top flight, which has taken them second in the table with 49 points - one point above Kawasaki in fourth.

Kawasaki's domestic form has been below par in addition to their cup exit, with only one win in their past four.

The past two outings have seen Yahiro Kazama's men lose to Albirex Niigata 3-0, and draw 1-1 with Vegalta Sendai - both sides in the bottom half of the 18-team league.

Kawasaki's lacklustre form sees them sit outside the AFC Champions League spots - the top three - but a win over Gamba could catapult them into second depending on how third-placed Kashima Antlers fare at home to Kashiwa Reysol.

Runaway leaders Urawa Reds, seven points clear of second-placed Gamba, are on the road at relegation-threatened Vegalta Sendai.

Vegalta, just one point above the drop zone in 13th, are unbeaten in their past two, while Urawa have won six of their past eight.

Fifth-placed Sagan Tosu (47 points) will welcome second bottom Cerezo Osaka, as the former continue their bid to reach the Asian spots.

Tokyo, who saw their 14-match unbeaten streak ended last time out against Vegalta, are away at 15th-placed Omiya Ardija and poised to bounce back and pick up points.

Clear bottom of the league, Tokushima Vortis - 14 points off Cerezo - host seventh-placed Vissel Kobe, who are without a win in three.

Shimizu S-Pulse, who occupy a drop zone spot in 18th, are away at mid-table Yokohama F Marinos.

Back-to-back wins will see Albirex Niigata full of confidence for their hosting of Ventforet Kofu.

Winless in three, Sanfrecce Hiroshima host Nagoya Grampus, the latter losing just one of their past eight league outings.