The J. League first-stage title may ultimately count for nothing when the championship playoffs begin in November, but that will not stop the current front-runners from wanting to claim the silverware.

Only three teams can now win the first stage after a weekend round that culled everyone but Kawasaki Frontale, Kashima Antlers and Urawa Reds from contention. First-place Frontale lead Antlers by a point with two games of the stage remaining, although a six-point gap between Antlers and third-place Urawa hides the fact that the Saitama side has two games in hand on its rivals.

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