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J1 League | Gameweek 19
Jun 22, 2024 at 7am UK
Machida Gion Stadium (Tokyo)

Machida Zelvia
0 - 0
Avispa Fukuoka


Oda (51')

Preview: Machida Zelvia vs. Avispa Fukuoka - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's J1 League clash between Machida Zelvia and Avispa Fukuoka, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Looking to extend their lead at the summit of the J1 League table, Machida Zelvia will welcome Avispa Fukuoka to the Machida Athletic Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts moved back two points clear in top spot with a return to winning ways last time out, while their visitors have narrowed their gap to the top five with three straight wins.

Match preview

Ahead of the halfway mark of the season on Saturday, Machida Zelvia find themselves in a strong position in their first-ever J1 League season after winning promotion last time around, currently topping the table after 18 games with 38 points on the board.

Zelvia have triumphed in 12 of those outings, including five victories in a six-match unbeaten streak in May, culminating in 2-1 wins over Cerezo Osaka and Urawa Red Diamonds either side of a 5-0 beating of Tokyo Verdy to move to the summit of the division.

A fourth league defeat of the campaign did then follow, as they were beaten 3-1 at home to Albirex Niigata at the beginning of June, and after getting past Cerezo Osaka in the J League Cup playoff round with a 3-1 aggregate triumph, they set out to bounce back and rebuild a lead in a trip to Yokohama F Marinos last weekend.

Go Kuroda's team made no mistake in that game, coming from 1-0 down to prevail in a 3-1 victory as Gen Shoji drew them level on the stroke of half time before Shota Fujio put his side ahead on the hour mark and Hokuto Shimoda quickly doubled the lead to wrap up the three points.

That result saw Machida Zelvia move two points clear of second-placed Kashima Antlers again, while third-placed Gamba Osaka sit four points worse off, and they will now set out to further strengthen their position at the halfway mark by making it consecutive wins again.

They face no easy task, though, as the visitors arrive in an impressive run of form in their own charge towards the top end of the Japanese top flight.

After last season's seventh-placed finish in the J1 League, Avispa Fukuoka have experienced a mixed start to the 2024 campaign, enjoying an eight-match unbeaten streak between early April and mid-May, only for back-to-back defeats to follow, leaving them 12th on 19 points from 15 outings.

The Hachi appear to have turned a corner since, though, and travel to Machida in the midst of a three-match winning streak, firstly bouncing back from the consecutive losses with a 2-1 triumph away at Albirex Niigata before prevailing in a 2-0 away win over Kashiwa Reysol courtesy of a Hiroki Sekine own goal and Itsuki Oda's finish late in the first half.

Then on the back of an 8-0 thrashing of fifth-tier Fukuyama City to progress to the third round of the Emperor's Cup, Shigetoshi Hasebe's side most recently played host to Sagan Tosu on Sunday and made it three straight three-point hauls, as Ryoga Sato opened the scoring on the stroke of half time before Wellington wrapped up a 2-0 victory with a second-half goal.

Thanks to their impressive upturn in form this month, Avispa Fukuoka have quickly climbed through the mid-table pack and up to seventh spot after 18 games, and with Cerezo Osaka only leading on goal difference and fifth-placed Sanfrecce Hiroshima just a single point better off, they have the chance to further strengthen their position at the top end of the division with a fourth straight league win and a fifth across all competitions.

Machida Zelvia J1 League form:

Avispa Fukuoka J1 League form:

Team News

Machida Zelvia continue to deal with several injury issues heading into Saturday's game, with defender Jang Min-kyu, midfielder Takuya Yasui and attackers Mitchell Duke and Na Sang-ho all set to remain confined to the treatment room.

Striker Jang Min-kyu also missed their recent win over Yokohama F Marinos, and if he remains sidelined plenty of attacking responsibility will again fall on Shota Fujio, who moved onto a team-high tally of seven league goals for the season with his side's second in that game.

Keiya Sento will fight to return from the outset in midfield, although Go Kuroda may instead stick with the partnership of Kai Shibato and Hokuto Shimoda, who scored Zelvia's third goal last weekend, while Ibrahim Dresevic and Gen Shoji will again line up at the heart of a back four in Jang's absence.

Shigetoshi Hasebe may opt to deploy an unchanged Avispa Fukuoka starting XI from their 2-0 win over Sagan Tosu last time out, although there is competition in attack, with top scorer Shahab Zahedi vying to return up front from the outset after being reduced to a substitute appearance in that game.

Instead, Wellington and Ryoga Sato both started in a front three and netted their second goals of the campaign, while Kazuya Konno should continue on the right flank with his tally of four J-League goals this term only topped by Zahedi's six.

Mainstays Hiroyuki Mae and Daiki Matsuoka will again partner up in the engine room, while Douglas Grolli, Masaya Tashiro and Daiki Miya should line up in an unaltered back three.

Machida Zelvia possible starting lineup:
Tani; Mochizuki, Shoji, Dresevic, Hayaski; Vasquez, Shibato, Shimoda, Hirakawa; Fujio, Erik

Avispa Fukuoka possible starting lineup:
Murakami; Grolli, Tashiro, Miya; Oda, Matsuoka, Mae, Iwasaki; Konno, Wellington, Sato

SM words green background

We say: Machida Zelvia 2-1 Avispa Fukuoka

With two of the J1 League's form teams squaring off, we certainly anticipate a close and hard-fought encounter at the weekend, which could be split by a single goal.

The visitors will travel with confidence from three straight wins, but the league leaders have shown their quality more throughout the season and could get the job done on home turf to strengthen their position at the summit.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Today's games header
Tables header RHS
1Machida Zelvia24154537191849
2Gamba OsakaGamba Osaka24135628181044
3Kashima AntlersKashima Antlers2413563930944
4Vissel KobeVissel Kobe24126637211642
5Sanfrecce HiroshimaHiroshima241010443251840
6Cerezo OsakaCerezo2491053226637
7FC Tokyo2410683532336
8Avispa Fukuoka249872322135
9Tokyo Verdy2481063236-434
10Urawa Red DiamondsUrawa249693934533
11Yokohama F MarinosYokohama2495103737032
12Nagoya GrampusNagoya Grampus2494112729-231
13Kashiwa ReysolReysol247893036-629
14Kawasaki FrontaleKawasaki2461083535028
15Albirex Niigata2477103237-528
16Shonan BellmareShonan Bellmare2467113438-425
17Kyoto Sanga2467112238-1625
18Jubilo Iwata2466123040-1024
19Sagan Tosu2472153144-1323
20Consadole SapporoConsadole2436152147-2615

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