Osaka are eyeing the top tier league title, which they last won in 1980. They have been runners-up twice in the new version, the J1 League. Last term, Sakura finished 12th out of 20 teams.
They are currently in sixth spot, with 26 points – eight behind leaders Yokohama FM. The gap doesn't seem too formidable. So they need to maintain their push by claiming full points against struggling Shimizu S-Pulse.
Shimizu, meanwhile, are yet to lift the J1 League title. Their best performance so far is a runners-up spot in 1999 and two third-place finishes in 1993 and 1998. Their ongoing campaign has been in disarray.
They sit in the red zone, third from bottom, level on 16 points with Shonan, who are second from bottom. S-Pa’s upcoming fixture appears to be an uphill battle, considering their dismal current form. They need to switch gears soon to turn their campaign around.
Two teams – Tokyo and S. Tosu – are hard on the heels of Osaka, with only one point separating them. The slightest slip-up could cost them their place in the standings.
Cerezo Osaka vs Shimizu S-Pulse Head-to-Head
Osaka have been victorious thrice in their last five clashes with Shimizu, who have won two. Sakura claimed one of those wins away from home.
Cerezo Osaka form guide (all competitions): W-L-W-W-W.
Shimizu S-Pulse form guide (all competitions): L-W-W-L-L.
Cerezo Osaka vs Shimizu S-Pulse Team News
Left-back Yusuke Maruhashi is recovering from knee surgery, while Ryosuke Yamanaka, also a left-back, has been sidelined with a groin injury.
Injured: Yusuke Maruhashi, Ryosuke Yamanaka.
Goalkeeper Togo Umeda is down with a cruciate ligament rupture. Midfielder Renato Augusto is out of action with cartilage damage. Right-winger Katsuhiro Nakayama is suffering from a thigh muscle strain.
Injured: Togo Umeda, Renato Augusto, Katsuhiro Nakayama.
Cerezo Osaka vs Shimizu S-Pulse Predicted Xls
Cerezo Osaka (4-4-2 ): Jin Hyeon Kim (GK), Ryuya Nishio, Matej Jonjic, Koji Toriumi, Hirotaka Tameda, Riki Harakawa, Hiroshi Kiyotake, Seiya Maikuma, Hiroaki Okuno, Riki Matsuda, Bruno Pereira Mendes.
Shimizu S-Pulse (4-3-3 ): Shuichi Gonda, Yoshinori Suzuki, Eiichi Katayama, Reon Yamahara, Yugo Tatsuta, Ryohei Shirasaki, Kenta Nishizawa, Yuta Kamiya, Kota Miyamoto, Thiago Santana, Yusuke Goto.
Cerezo Osaka vs Shimizu S-Pulse Prediction
Cerezo Osaka will leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of a successful outcome. They will have the 12th man by their side on the day. However, they are familiar foes for the visitors who will be ready to exploit any weakness.
Osaka possess the potential to edge the challenge of Shimizu S-Pulse, though, with home advantage likely to be key.
Prediction: Cerezo Osaka 2-1 Shimizu S-Pulse.