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Kansai clubs coasting back to J1

With half the league season gone, everything's panning out exactly as JSoccerMagazine's pundits predicted: Gamba Osaka top, followed by Vissel Kobe.

For Gamba, it was a 2-0 home win over Tokushima Vortis, with the first coming from Paulinho (no, not the one who could be joining Spurs!).

Vissel, meanwhile, were victorious away against Roasso Kumamoto, but needed a last-minute penalty strike from Kyuhei Sugiura to steal all 3 points. It was his first goal since April. What a timely moment to score!

After that batch of games, Vissel are coasting: 8 points clear of the play-off spots; and it's plain sailing for Gamba, who are 10 points clear.

Having built up a lead like that, it's hard to imagine how either Kansai club can throw away their automatic-promotion place.

Of the chasing pack, JEF United are in form, as are Montedio Yamagata. Perhaps one of those two will go up via the play-offs. Kyoto Sanga have the talent, but seem unable to win when it really matters, as was evidenced in last season's end of season 'mash-up'. Draw-specialists Fagiano Okayama might be able to clinch the other spot, if they build on their strong defensive record.

If you've got view of your own on how the J2-promotion race is going to pan out, feel free to post it below.

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