Hoàng Anh Gia Lai players in a recent V.League match. They will take on HCM City on Saturday. Photo thethaovanhoa.vn
HÀ NỘI The V.League will return to action on Saturday following a one-month break for the World Cup 2022 qualifiers.
Hà Nội FC have already been crowned champions with two matches to spare, but the fight to avoid relegation is heating up.
All eyes will be on the match between Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and runners-up HCM City at Thống Nhất Stadium on Saturday.
The match is effectively a dead rubber for the hosts, but could be crucial for HAGL.
HAGL are four points clear of Thanh Hóa, who are second from bottom, and five points ahead of bottom-placed Khánh Hòa.
HAGL will escape relegation if they win today, regardless of what happens on the final day of the season.
If Thanh Hóa and Khánh Hòa don't win, HAGL will only need a point to stay up.
Pundits are saying HAGL may get an easy ride because HCM City's seaon is effectively over and they may field a second team.
HAGL will be without key players Lương Xuân Trường and Nguyễn Tuấn Anh due to injury, but they are likely to be able to grab the point they need.
Meanwhile, Nam Định will face in-form Hải Phòng at home at Thiên Trường Stadium.
Both Nam Định and Hải Phòng will be wanting to secure three points and their confirm places in the top division.
Nam Định are in 12th with 28 points, while Hải Phòng are 10th with 30 points.
However, Nam Định have a good chance of gaining three points against Hải Phòng.
Nam Định have only lost two games at home this season, putting them alongside Hà Nội, HCM City and SHB Đà Nẵng.
Moreover, Hải Phòng coach Trương Việt Hoàng has announced he will be quitting at the end of the season, and several players have signed for new clubs.
According to the Việt Nam Professional Football Company (VPF), the match between Nam Định and Hải Phòng will be officiated over by Malaysian officials.
Malaysian referees will also be in charge of Thanh Hóa versus Viettel today and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai versus Sanna Khánh Hòa next Wednesday. The results are likely to dictate who is relegated and who reaches the play-offs.
The VPF regularly invites foreign referees to officiate in the V.League 1 to ensure fairness and avoid match fixing.
Elsewhere, Sông Lam Nghệ An face Quảng Ninh Coal, Đà Nẵng play Bình Dương, defending champions Hà Nội take on Quảng Nam and Khánh Hòa face Sài Gòn. VNS