J-League Preview: Sagan out to pressure Urawa

New Sagan Tosu boss Megumu Yoshida can keep the pressure on out-of-form J-League leaders Urawa Reds with another win on Saturday.

Yoshida got his reign at the Best Amenity Stadium off to a perfect start with a 3-1 win at Omiya Ardija last weekend. 

That result, coupled with Urawa's thrilling 4-4 draw at Tokyo, moved Sagan to within a point of the summit.

Yoshida has led Sagan to consecutive victories since taking over from Yoon Jung-hwan - the win at Omiya being preceded by an Emperor's Cup success over Oita Trinita - and his side could return to the top of the table with another win at home to Shimizu S-Pulse this weekend.

That depends whether struggling Omiya can fare better at Urawa on Saturday than they did at home to Sagan last week.

Omiya sit second bottom of the table having failed to win since the J-League's resumption following the mid-season break, but may never have a better opportunity to get the better of a stuttering Urawa side.

Mihailo Petrovic's team showed their resolve by twice coming from behind to claim a point in the capital last week, but have now won just one of their last five league fixtures - form that is threatening to undermine their title challenge.

Kashima Antlers and Kawasaki Frontale are also both very much in the title race, sitting just two points adrift of Urawa.

Toninho Cerezo's Kashima are the division's form team having extended their unbeaten run to eight games with a 3-1 win at Shimizu last time out, but they face a tricky test in the form of fifth-placed Tokyo on Saturday.

Kawasaki, meanwhile, will hope to bounce back from a disappointing 2-0 reverse at mid-table Yokohama F Marinos when they visit Nagoya Grampus. 

That Yokohama victory was marred by an incident of racist abuse from a lone supporter - who has subsequently been banned from watching the team indefinitely - towards Kawasaki striker Renato.

The club are expected to be punished sooner rather than later following a J-League tribunal, but they will have to switch their focus to on-pitch matters at Vegalta Sendai.

Bottom-placed Tokushima Vortis picked up just their third top-flight win of the season at Albirex Niigata last Saturday, and can give their faint hopes of survival another boost at home to champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who are 10 points behind pacesetters Urawa in ninth. 

Elsewhere, Albirex visit Gamba Osaka and Cerezo Osaka host Vissel Kobe.


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