JLeague: Urawa Reds - Albirex Niigata
Urawa have dominated this series in recent years, with an 8-2-0 record in Saitama, along with seven clean sheets and a very similar 8-1-1 from ten starts in Niigata, also keeping Albirex scoreless in seven. So, in the last 20 h2h meetings, Urawa have an 80% win rate and have not conceded in 70%. The hosts currently look as strong as at any time during the course of those previous meetings and they will be looking to extend their advantage in the Stage 1 league table and seal their place in the post season as quickly as possible,, leaving them free to them concentrate fully on the AFC Champions League instead of Stage 2 later in the year.
Albirex have had a tough schedule and playing Kashima Antlers, Gamba Osaka and then Urawa Reds, all back to back inside ten days, with two on the road , is about as difficult as it gets in J-League and they will have spent a lot of time chasing the ball, come the final whistle tomorrow evening. 8 of their 14 goals this season have come from Rafael da Silva and Tasuya Tanaka, the first is injured and former Urawa striker Tanaka has only played more than 75 minutes twice in the last three seasons and has already been asked to play more minutes than he did in the whole of 2015 this season. They need to score, as they are incredibly leaky at the other end of the pitch, only relegated Shimizu S-Pulse conceded more last season and that trend has continued and they have already given up a J-League high 20 this time round, at the rate of 2.0 per game on the road. The core of their defence, which conceded eight in two visits ( league and cup) to Urawa last season is unchanged and they do not have appeared to have addressed those issues in the interim.
Urawa Reds -1.25 ball 1.98 asian line/sportmarket