11Sanfreece Hiroshima2816574626+2053WWWL159332714137241912

21Yokohama F-Marinos2815854526+1953OOWX148602413147252113

3Urawa Reds2815675539+1651WXXL149323216146352323

4Kashima Antlers2815585043+750WWWL1311202510154382533

51Cerezo Osaka28121154224+1847WWXX147522111145632113

61Kawasaki Frontale2813695545+1045WWLW148423017145272528

72FC Tokyo28135105239+1344LWWW137152417156452822

8Vegalta Sendai28101173528+741XOWW146622012144551516

93Albirex Niigata28124123737+040WXLW148152421144371316

101Omiya Ardija28123133942-339LLLL146352124146081818

111Kashiwa Reysol28108104451-738LXXL146442729144461722

121Shimizu S-Pulse28115123748-1138LWLW147252023144371725

13Nagoya Grampus 828107113940-137XLLL147342116143471824

14Sagan Tosu2896134155-1433LLWW146261923143472232

15Ventforet Kofu2879122737-1030OLXW144281317143741420
16Shonan Bellmare2867152951-2225XXWL153661825133191126
17Jubilo Iwata28311143647-1120XLLW142572024141671623
18Oita Trinita2817202859-3110LLLL14041013261413101533

Only six rounds to play now, three weeks I wrote .....

Only 8 rounds to play and an awful lot of teams (most) are in danger of having little very little to play for soon, that doesn't have to make things totally uninteresting, at least for now, as we will surely see many of these teams, who have nothing to lose, gambling big time for the points which might yet see them make an unlikely run at a top 3 (Champions League ) or title push. Someone in 6th, or even down as low as 12th/13th is in no danger of relegation currently and if they could put together a 4-5 match winning run, which they are "freerolling " for, could yet get into contention. That is what I will be looking out for and as we discussed at the end of last month .... "a huge amount of the J-League action is taking place after the break in any case, with 64% of all goals being scored in the second half and a lot of matches being turned on their heads, with 31% of teams who are ahead at half time, not winning the match and being as likely to lose, as to draw."

Those Stats have largely held up over the last four weeks. Goals continue on the increase and the 2.91 per game average are 0.15 per game up on last season and that is all the more impressive, as we lost Consadole Sapporo who conceded a whopping 88 goals and Gamba Osaka, who's matches produced an eye popping 132 goals (3.82 average).

Draws are running at 23.93% (4.18 odds).
Last four rounds have seen 16 matches all square at the break, which is 44.44% , close enough to the seasonal average of 47%, it makes sense that the percentage is down slightly as some teams have less reason to be cagey and that is what we are basically  talking about. Over the 26 rounds, 32.7% of games that were level at the half, have ended in stalemate, that number has dropped slightly over recent weeks and should continue to do so, with teams having so little use for one point. But even without that factor we could still expect at least 67% of all half time draws to end with a positive result for one team.
Excluding the matches we have "eliminated" the  two rounds since have seen eight matches level at the break, one we made a case for the draw no bet , but even so, 75% have ended with a positive result for one of the teams and the draws are really only coming, when at least one team is happy to settle on a single point.

We are going to continue with this policy , which has served us well so far and will be looking at the nine matches ( only six considered) as though they were level at the half, which 2-4 of them should be .

In reality, the teams placed between 8th and 13th have little to play for, but I do not feel that hurts us, they will probably start as organised and focused as for the previous 28 rounds, but that intensity seems sure to lessen the longer matches go and matches open up.

Round 29 fixtures.....

Yokohama F.Marinos (joint leader/ 3 points clear of 4th)-Sanfreece Hiroshima (level at the top/ 3 clear of 4th)

Kashima Antlers  (1 point off CL spot)-Urawa Reds ( 2 points off top/ 1 point clear of 4th)

Two huge top of the table clashes and neither really fits our criteria, as you can make a case for not losing being a priority for all four.

Antlers are an eye catching 8-5-0 at home in the second half and an even better 6-2-0 when level at the half, but Urawa have collected more second half points than any other J-L team, I think we have to pass on these two match ups.

A couple of things though, Hiroshima are not as "robust" as most top teams and have lost all six matches when trailing at the break, which is unusual for a top team. Marinos have averaged 1.4 points from matches in which they have trailed.

Antlers have won 2/2 in which they have trailed, which is impressive, I would not mind siding with them at the half if they were behind, as they dare not lose and we should get circa level ball -0.25 but that is not really the purpose of these notes today.
No official bet

Kashiwa Reysol (13 clear of relegation )-Ventforet Kofu ( 5 clear of relegation)

Likewise this match, as a draw would see Kofu a minimum three points aead of Shonan, plus superior goal difference , so a point would be very valuable. No bet

Kawasaki Frontale-( 6 points off top 3)-Jubilo Iwata ( 10 points from safety)

With the top four playing each other, this is a huge opportunity for Frontale to close the gap on at least two of them and edge closer to a Champions League spot.

Jubilo are fighting a lost cause, but have no option but to look for maximum points and a draw would be a bit of a disaster for either team, visitors are 0-4-3 on the road when level, Frontale surely cannot let this slip and I wonder how much fight Jubilo will have if falling behind after the break.
We should get odds against Kawasaki at the half and I would have to take that for 1.25 units.

Shimizu S-Pulse ( 13 points clear of relegation)-Sagan Tosu ( 8 points clear of relegation)

This seem sure to liven up after the break, SSP are a very useful 6-2-2 when all square at HT, Sagan are 2-1-3 on the road when level. Tosu matches have produced a whopping 68 goals in the second half, 37 on the road where they have lost 8/14.
SSP will be level ball/-0.25 and I would have to favour them to come out on top 1.25 units

Omiya Ardija  ( 12 points off CL)-Oita Trinita ( relegated)

Sometimes relegated teams up their game once the battle is finally lost and the pressure is lifted and  20 defeats for Oita already tells it's own story, but Omiya have lost their way and are 1-0-12 since mid July, when they held a five point lead at the top of the table. Home strikers Milivoje Novakovic and Zlatan Ljubijankic have returned from Europe , but hard to know what shape they will be in. Do we really want to give up a big handicap about a team in freefall , even playing another who are 0-3-11 with a goal difference of 7-26 on the road in the second half ? I have to pass.

FC Tokyo ( 7 points off CL)-Albirex Niigata ( 15 clear of relegation/ 11 from top 3)

Absolutely no point in either sitting back too long. FCT are 3-0-2 when level at the half and 8-0-5 when all square at the break, so do not do draws in any case. Niigata are very solid at home after the break, but toothless on the road, two wins and only seven goals. FCT have already beaten Albirex twice this season, scoring five and it is easy to make a case for them having slightly more to play for. 1.25 units FCT, we should get -0.25 at the half, but I would prefer to look for the staright win and bigger odds.

Cerezo Ozaka (4 points off CL) -Shonan Bellmare ( 5 points from safety)

I spoke ahead of their last home game about the promise of the Cerezo coach to get his team into the Champions League, well, he has been pretty good to his word so far, with a pair of wins and a third today, with the top 4 facing off, could be hugely valuable. Hosts are 4-3-2 when level, but a very nice 8-4-2 overall in the second half, Shonan have lost 7/13 after the break on the road and have no option but to gamble. Hopefully the line for Cerezo will just be -0.5 at the half and that looks very solid, 1.5 units.

Vegalta Sendai ( 10 points off top 3) -Nagoya Grampus ( 12 clear of relegation)

Surely even time for Sendai (1-5-0 when level) to throw off the shackles now, neither has anything much to gain now by sitting back and that is not really the Nagoya way in any case and their road games have seen an average of 2.07 second half goals. Both are missing key defenders and if Sendai play their part, we should see some second half excitement "over" 1.5 goals, maybe we will only have to give 1.25 goals  in the second half, but I want 2.0+, so probably need the tougher line. 1.25 units.

So remember, all notes above in bold black type, are written as if the match was level at half time and assuming that we are 11 v 11, odds change (sometimes too much) with a sending off and the match dynamics are altered, even if it is 10 v 10.

These are all stats and motivation based and you will have your own opinion, especially if watching the match yourself. It is hard to be precise regarding lines at the break, but I should be close enough and if in doubt, do what I do and always opt for the tougher quote and bigger odds.

Good Luck.