J1 League match preview: FC Tokyo travel to Sagan Tosu in pivotal fixture
J1 League leaders FC Tokyo play the fifth of eight straight away games when they travel to relegation battling Sagan Tosu on Saturday. The team from the capital have been made to endure a strenuous string of away fixtures as their home stadium is being used for the ongoing Rugby World Cup.
Thus far the Gasmen have won one, drawn two and lost one of their eight away games. They cling on to a one-point lead over nearest rival Kashima Antlers who remain in hot pursuit of a 9th league title.
Sagan Tosu are languishing at the opposite end of the table and are desperately fighting relegation. They currently occupy the (relegation) 16th spot and are three points from safety.
Due to their inferior goal difference, it is unlikely that Sagan will lift themselves out of danger this weekend, even if they manage to get a win against Tokyo and the team above them (Shonan Belmare) lose.
Last weekend Sagan Tosu came back from 2-0 down to lead Urawa Reds 3-2. If it wasn’t for a last minute penalty from striker Kenyu Sugimoto they would have walked away with all 3 points in spectacular fashion.
Meanwhile FC Tokyo could only manage a lackluster 0-0 draw with second-from-bottom Matsumoto Yamaga and have proved to be somewhat toothless in attack as of late.
Kenta Hasegawa’s men have struggled to put points on the board recently and are certainly not in championship-winning form.
He seems to prefer a counter attacking approach, which often fails to produce the goods should the opposition choose to sit tight and commit few men forward.
Since the retirement of former World Cup winner and Athletico Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, Tosu have recovered some ground and tallied a total of 7 points from their last five games.
This match could be pivotal for the season campaigns of both sides. A win for the visitors will keep their hopes of winning the championship alive. Should Tosu manage to cause an upset and come away with the three points then they will surely fancy their chances of survival in Japan’s top flight.