J1 League Pre-Match Digest: FC Tokyo look to preserve top stop in clash with relegation-threatened Matsumoto
FC Tokyo head out to the mountainous Nagano Prefecture where they will face Matsumoto Yamaga on Sunday. The J-League resumes after a two-week hiatus to accommodate the opening stages of the Rugby World Cup.
The visitors are clinging onto the top spot by a single point after losing a potentially title-deciding encounter against 2nd placed Kashima Antlers in their previous match. Antlers may, temporarily at least, leapfrog Tokyo if they win or draw against Consadole Sapporo on Saturday.
After an incredible start to the season, the club from the capital city have continued to drop points since young prodigy Takefusa Kubo left the club to pursue his playing career at Real Madrid.
This is a familiar sight for Tokyo fans as the club regularly starts the season well only to falter and stagnate from mid-season onwards. Oftentimes this is due to a key player leaving for Europe.
In converse fashion, this fixture is a must-win for Matsumoto also. They are currently placed at 17th on the points table, 2nd from bottom and 7 points away from absolute safety.
Key Talking Points: FC Tokyo
- FC Tokyo manager Kenta Hasegawa has persisted with the same line-up for the majority of the season. Interestingly, he brought in attacking midfielder Hirotaka Mita from Vissel Kobe only to leave him on the bench since arrival. This has left fans somewhat bewildered given the quality performances he has put on for his former club.
- This match will be the 4th of 8 straight away games for the visitors. So far they have won 1, drawn 1 and lost 1.
- In the previous 4 meetings between the two sides, Tokyo have won 3 and drawn 1
Key Talking Points: Matsumoto Yamaga
- Key striker Daizen Maeda was loaned out to Portuguese side Maritimo midseason. The young poacher proved to be a prolific goalscorer in the top flight.
- Yamaga are most likely to concede within the 30-45 minute period. This may work in their favour as the majority of Tokyo`s goals come within 15-30 minutes. Should they sit deep or keep the ball in the opposition half in the early stages, then they may be able to see out the game.
- Matsumoto have failed to beat any of the current top 4 this season. Giant killing seems to be beyond them at this point.
Score Prediction: Matsumoto Yamaga 0-1 FC Tokyo (1st half goal)