In their first year back in the top flight, Gamba have managed to lift the title on the final day of the J-League season by a single point following their 0-0 draw away to bottom-of-the-table Tokushima Vortis.
They went into the season’s halfway break sitting in the relegation zone and looking likely to face a return to Japan’s second division (J2). Their run to become league champions was aided by the return to form of stars Yasuhito Endo and Takashi Usami, as well as Brazilian strikers Patric and Lins.
With three games remaining in the season, Urawa Reds sat above Gamba with five points in hand. Gamba managed to win their next two games – including a game against Urawa at Saitama Stadium – while Urawa managed to only claim one point, allowing the Osakans to jump above with their dominant goal difference.
The final game of the season saw Urawa leading their game against mid-table Nagoya Grampus, but poor defending allowed the one point earned by Gamba Osaka to lift the J-League trophy in Tokushima.
Both teams will participate in next year’s AFC Champions League. They will presumably be joined by presumptive third-place Kashima Antlers, whose berth will not be confirmed until a snow-delayed game between Albirex Niigata and Kashiwa Reysol will reportedly be played early next week.
Gamba will have a chance to win a third title this season, which would complete the first Japanese domestic treble since 2000, when they face JEF United Chiba in the Emperor’s Cup final on Saturday, December 13.