Written by Alan Gibson

J2 2017 - As Unpredictable as EVER!

After 24 matches in the 42 game J2 season, it's as tight and as unpredictable as can be. From 5th to 15th in J2 there is a spread of just six points and, with three of the top four losing at the weekend, the top just squeezed up too.

Avispa Fukuoka and Shonan Bellmare looked to be sealing up the top two spots a few games back but, with four wins and a draw in the last four matches Tokushima Vortis have been closing in and, with Avispa losing two of their last three (last weekend a 1-0 defeat to Vortis was a big result for the away team - the epitome of a six-pointer) and only one win out of three for Bellmare it's getting closer at the top.

V-Varen Nagasaki went down to Yokohama FC to leave those teams in 4th and 5th - the latter were on a run earlier in the season and topped the division at one point but went on a bad run but have started to turn it around with two wins-in-a-row now and are looking to cement a play-off spot.

Then we hit 6th spot and see Nagoya Grampus (lost to Kyoto Sanga 3-1 last time out) and Fagiano Okayama (2-1 home win over Renofa Yamaguchi saw a LONG unbeaten run continue, despite a plethora of injuries hitting the squad).

To emphasize how tight this division is, we then see Matsumoto Yamaga, Tokyo Verdy, JEF United and Mito HollyHock from 8th to 11th, all on 36 points! HollyHock had been surprising many with a decent run but have slumped over the last four matches, picking up just two points. JEF have won four of their last five but, just to remind us how inconsistent this team is, they lost to lowly Roasso Kumamoto two games back!

Just as we're thinking how tight it is in the top half, we drop just one place to the lower half of the table and see three teams - from 12th to 14th - just one point behind the teams in 8th to 11th! Machida Zelvia have risen from the lower reaches with four wins in-a-row, while Oita Trinita (three draws on the run, after a defeat - three points in four matches) and Montedio Yamagata (a four loss run just halted with a shock win over Bellmare!). In 15th and 16th place we see Kyoto Sanga (Kevin Oris, pictured, from JSoccer Magazine issue 24) and Ehime FC on 32 points and, while technically being just five and six spaces off the relegation spots they are only five points off a play-off spot!

So, the "top" of J2 goes down as far as 16th place it seems, with Ehime and Sanga still in with a shot at promotion - Amazing, J2!

And so to the bottom and it would seem that ThespaKusatsu Gunma and Kamatamare Sanuki are doing their best to fill two relegation spots, while Renofa Yamaguchi (five points clear in 20th), Roasso Kumamoto (nine points above 21st in 19th spot) and FC Gifu ( four losses in the last five but still 12 points ahead of the relegation spots).

Zweigen Kanazawa (28 points, 17th) and, arguably Gifu would seem to be the only teams with nothing left to play for this season (famous last words!?) in this SO unpredictable division!

Keep YOUR eye on J2 for excitement galore!



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