J-League Preview: Kashiwa look to continue form

On Wednesday, Nelson Baptista's men clinched glory in the Sugura Bank Championship, defeating Argentine outfit Lanus in the final on home soil.

Kashiwa's victory ensured the annual event contested between the winners of the J-League Cup and the Copa Sudamericana was won by a Japanese side for the fifth year in succession.

Brazilian Leandro was the hero, converting a second-half penalty after Tatsuya Masushima's own goal had cancelled out Kaoru Takayama's opener.

"Personally I didn't play that well but the team won so I am glad," said Takayama. "The [first] goal was Leandro's really. All I had to do was run it in."

Kashiwa currently sit eighth in the J-League, while Yokohama, who blew a title-winning position to finish second last season - are four points behind their opponents in 11th.

Since the mid-season break for the World Cup, Gamba Osaka have won all four of their league outings, scoring 13 goals and conceding just once.

They will aim to continue their strong form by beating struggling Omiya Ardija, who have failed to register a win in that time.

A fifth consecutive win for Gamba could leave them just one place shy of the AFC Champions League qualifying berths, with two of the sides in those spots set to meet at the weekend.

Urawa Reds, second in the table on goals scored, travel to Kawasaki Frontale, who sit four points behind their opponents in third.

The Reds will be hopeful of regaining the top spot they lost last week, with new leaders Sagan Tosu visiting seventh-placed Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

At the foot of the table, Tokushima Vortis will seek to reduce the 10-point between themselves and safety when they take on Shimizu S-Pulse.

The league's bottom club have picked up only nine points all season, but four of those have been gained from their last two fixtures.

The other side currently in the drop zone, Cerezo Osaka, look to have a tough task ahead of them as they host a Tokyo outfit that has taken 10 points from four matches since the break.

Ninth-place Vissel Kobe are yet to pick up a win since the league resumed, a run which they will hope to end at home to Albirex Niigata.

Elsewhere, Kashima Antlers visit Nagoya Grampus and Ventforet Kofu are set for a clash with Vegalta Sendai.

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