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J1 League | Gameweek 21
Jul 16, 2023 at 11am UK
NOEVIR Stadium Kobe

Vissel Kobe
2 - 1
Sagan Tosu

Osako (53'), Patric (82')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Togashi (51' pen.)

Preview: Vissel Kobe vs. Sagan Tosu - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Vissel Kobe vs. Sagan Tosu - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's J1 League clash between Vissel Kobe and Sagan Tosu, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Vissel Kobe will be looking to continue their push for top spot in the J1 League when they take on Sagan Tosu at Noevir Stadium Kobe on Sunday evening.

The hosts are in second place, having taken 40 points from their opening 19 games, while the visitors are firmly rooted in mid-table, currently sitting in eighth.

Match preview

Vissel Kobe have never won the J1 League before, but they are in a very strong position to bring the title home for the first time, as they are just three points behind league leaders Yokohama F Marinos, with a game in hand at their disposal.

The key to Ushi's success has been their fantastic defensive record so far this season, having conceded just 14 league goals, the fewest of any side in the division, and they have kept clean sheets in two out of their last three league games.

In the most recent of those, Takayuki Yoshida's side emerged as 1-0 winners away at Albirex Niigata, with Yuya Osako scoring the only goal of the game in the first half, closing the gap on Yokohama F Marinos, who drew their last match away at Nagoya Grampus.

Vissel Kobe have taken huge strides this season, having finished in 13th place in the previous campaign, and they have a fantastic recent record against Sunday's opponents, which should give them confidence heading into the match.

Ushi have won each of the last four matches between the two sides without conceding a goal, winning the reverse fixture at the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium 1-0 earlier this season.

As such, Sagan Tosu face a very tough test this weekend, but their recent form has been promising, having collected 10 points from their last five games, the joint-third highest total of any side in the division.

Inconsistency has been a real issue for Sagan, having failed to win consecutive J1 league games all season, but they are on an upward trend at the moment, winning two of their last three games, including a 6-0 thrashing of Shonan Bellmare in their last away trip.

As things stand, Kenta Kawai's side are 10 points behind third-placed Nagoya, with just under half of the season left to play, meaning they could still make a push for the AFC Champions League qualification places, but they would have to go on a very good run of form.

Although Sagan Tosu have improved recently, they succumbed to a 4-3 defeat against Roasso Kumamoto after extra time in their last match, having conceded a 90th-minute equaliser, exiting the Emperor's Cup at the round of 16 stage.

Vissel Kobe J1 League form:

Vissel Kobe form (all competitions):

Sagan Tosu J1 League form:

Team News

Vissel Kobe's main attacking threat is Yuya Osako, and the striker is set to return to the starting lineup after being benched in the last match, with Jean Patric making way.

Yoshinori Muto was also rested for the opening 60 minutes against Jubilo Iwata, with the right-winger also poised to regain his place in the side, and Koya Yuruki is likely to keep his place on the opposite flank.

Ayumu Yokoyama scored his first goal for Sagan Tosu last time out, and the 20-year-old forward could be rewarded with a place in the starting lineup, replacing Yuji Ono.

Winger Jun Nishikawa and central midfielder Akito Fukuta have also staked their claim for a rare start after finding the back of the net against Roasso Kumamoto.

Vissel Kobe possible starting lineup:
Maekawa; Sakai, Thuler, Osaki, Hatsuse; Saito, Sasaki, Yamaguchi; Muto, Yuruki, Osako

Sagan Tosu possible starting lineup:
Park; Harada, Hwang, Yamazaki, Kikuchi; Tezuka, Kawahara, Naganuma, Horigome, Iwasaki; Yokoyama

We say: Vissel Kobe 1-0 Sagan Tosu

Vissel Kobe have been fantastic so far this season, particularly defensively, having conceded the fewest goals of any team in the division.

As such, we expect the hosts to emerge as narrow winners, keeping the pressure on top-of-the-table Yokohama F Marinos.

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

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Premier League Table
1Machida Zelvia23154436171949
2Gamba OsakaGamba Osaka23135528171144
3Vissel KobeVissel Kobe23125634181641
4Kashima AntlersKashima Antlers2312563729841
5Sanfrecce HiroshimaHiroshima23910439241537
6Cerezo OsakaCerezo2391043124737
7FC Tokyo2310673430436
8Avispa Fukuoka239862321235
9Urawa Red DiamondsUrawa239683630633
10Tokyo Verdy2371063136-531
11Nagoya GrampusNagoya Grampus2393112426-230
12Yokohama F MarinosYokohama2385103536-129
13Kashiwa ReysolReysol237882833-529
14Kawasaki FrontaleKawasaki2351083233-125
15Albirex Niigata2367103036-625
16Jubilo Iwata2366112938-924
17Sagan Tosu2372143040-1023
18Shonan BellmareShonan Bellmare2357113338-522
19Kyoto Sanga2357112037-1722
20Consadole SapporoConsadole2326151744-2712
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