J.League Division 1: MD Three and Division 2: MD Five Fixtures and Preview

(Nagoya Grampus stroll to a 4-0 victory over Albirex Niigata in the J.League Division 1 fixture played 15 June 2011. The sides meet again at the Mizuho Athletic Stadium on Sunday 25 March)

Vegalta Sendai, one of just four teams in J.League Division 1 to have compiled two wins from their first two matches, host Omiya Ardija at the Yurtec Stadium on on Saturday. Vegalta, who boasted the strongest defensive record in the league in 2011 in conceding just 25 goals, have begun the 2012 campaign equally securely with back-to-back clean sheets.

One 100% winning record is guaranteed to fall this weekend, as Vissel Kobe play host to FC Tokyo at the Home’s Stadium. Vissel, having notched up victories over Gamba Osaka and Consadole Sapporo, come face to face with the Gas Men, who were lucky to come away with all three points in their opening ficxture in Omiya but produced a wonderful second-half display of attacking football to down Nagoya Grampus on Matchday Two at the Ajinmoto Stadium.

Consecutive 1-0 victories have been sufficient for Kawasaki Frontale to complete the list of teams on six points. Frontale welcome visitors Cerezo Osaka to the Todoroki Athletics Stadium, and with the teams having endured a very disappointing 2011, the result for last year’s 11th and 12th placed sides respectively may provide an early indication of their relative fortunes for 2012.

With Kashiwa Reysol having finally returned to winning ways in their 5-1 demolition of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Shimizu S-Pulse may not appreciate the trip to the Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium. S-Pa travel to the home of the Sun Kings having overcome Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 on Matchday Two, but a potential return to form for the reigning champions may not bode well for the Shizuoka outfit.

Two teams with a single point to their names will do battle at the Best Amenity Stadium. Yokohama F-Marinos make their way to Kyushu to take on Sagan Tosu, and Sagan will be hoping to replicate their first ever victory at the highest level of Japanese professional football with their inaugural J.League Dvision 1 win.

The Sapporo Dome provides the venue for Consadole versus Urawa Red Diamonds, with the Reds having emerged with a surprise 1-0 victory away to Kashiwa Reysol on Matchday Two. Consadole, whose bright, attacking football has won admirers at this early stage of the season, need to ally a finishing touch to their intriguing play if they are to add to just the sole point they have taken from their two league matches.

2011’s 6th and 7th placed teams meet at the Hiroshima Big Arch. Kashima Antlers, whose two goals in the J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup success over Vissel Kobe were their first of 2012, surprisingly go into this match at the foot of the table and will look to reproduce the excellent form they showed in the mid-week win. Sanfrecce, however, have benefitted from a full week’s rest, their involvement in the J.League Nabisco Cup not beginning until 4 April.

Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka, who journeyed to Australia for their 2012 AFC Champions League fixtures, have home ties on Sunday 25 March. Grampus, with a win and a loss to date, face an Albirex Niigata side who defeated Sapporo in the J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup but have otherwise failed to take any points from their competitive fixtures to date.

Gamba’s dreadful form continues unabated, and a record of four matches played and four defeats for a team widely expected to challenge for both domestic and continental honours could lead to examination of Jose Carlos Serrao’s position should there not be dramatic improvement against Jubilo Iwata in the weekend’s final fixture. Jubilo will provide a stern test of Gamba’s credentials at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium, being unbeaten in their three matches to date.

J.League Division 1, 24 March

Vegalta Sendai vs Omiya Ardija
Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs Kashima Antlers
Kawasaki Frontale vs Cerezo Osaka
Vissel Kobe vs FC Tokyo
Sagan Tosu vs Yokohama F-Marinos
Consadole Sapporo vs Urawa Red Diamonds
Kashiwa Reysol vs Shimizu S-Pulse

J.League Division 1, 25 March

Nagoya Grampus vs Albirex Niigata
Gamba Osaka vs Jubilo Iwata

J.League Division 2, 24 March

Mito HollyHock vs Matsumoto Yamaga

J.League Division 2, 25 March

Kataller Toyama vs Giravanz Kitakyushu
Kyoto Sanga vs FC Machida Zelvia
Fagiano Okayama vs Montedio Yamagata
Avispa Fukuoka vs Gainare Tottori
Yokohama FC vs Ventforet Kofu
Ehime FC vs Tochigi SC
JEF United Chiba vs Tokushima Vortis
Tokyo Verdy vs Thespa Kusatsu
Roasso Kumamoto vs Shonan Bellmare
FC Gifu vs Oita Trinita
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