Saturday, 15 June 2019

Vs Consadole Sapporo (home) 14/6/19 - J League match 15

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Consadole Sapporo

Another hugely disappointing result. And many more things for me to moan about. My pre-game thoughts were ‘I’m not sure we’re going to do very well tonight'. I was right! You’ll have to trust me on this, but as the weeks progress and I keep typing these pre-game thoughts and they are increasingly insanely wrong, you’ll probably realise I’m not cheating on these. The huge 7-0 victory last year was always unlikely to be repeated, and our middling to poor performances this year made it doubly unlikely. Sapporo aren’t in the best of form this season, but that’s no problem for a team coming to Todoroki! We’ll always oblige with a point or three. Thank goodness we can concentrate on the league now our ACL campaign is finished. Oh… actually we’re playing worse since it's been over, presumably as now Oniki randomly rotates less and therefore is less likely to randomly find a combination that works. Our unbeaten run in the league continues - HOORAY! Our run of absolutely tedious games also continues - AAAAAHHH. This is no fun at the moment, and while of course we don’t have any divine right to win, it’s frustrating to play so badly due to the possible insanity of our manager. Particularly when pretty much anyone in the ground could probably do a better of picking a team and making substitutions. Credit to Consadole though. They brought a decent amount of fans for what must be a hugely inconvenient Friday night fixture for their fans who had a long journey. And they frustrated us by defending and not just allowing us to walk the ball into the net and score. Friday Night J League is a mixed blessing for me. If we win it can really kick off the weekend in style. But as is happening more often than not this year, a disappointing result means that I have all weekend to mope about it before the blessed relief of a miserable return to work. This game makes three awful 1-1 draws in a row at home. Some might say we’ve played well, but that’s certainly not true if you're talking about a whole 90 minutes, and three goals in three games suggests that we haven’t played that well. Ok, bring on the misery…

The usual selections and omissions point & the usual substitutions point - 

I am slightly torn with regards to my usual moan about these kind of things. It was a brave decision for Oniki to leave a now not injured Kengo out of the match day squad again. And also a brave decision to leave Kobayashi on the bench (although maybe our second half turn around after he came on suggests that was a brave and at the same time bad decision). Certainly both of them haven’t been playing very well this year and being in the form that we are right now, we shouldn’t let emotions cloud our thinking regarding their selections. Hopefully both can pick things up a little and force themselves back into contention. Presumably Kobayashi now has, after scoring in this game. Let’s be honest though, his goal was down to a goalkeeping blunder and he missed a hell of a lot of fairly easy chances aside from his goal. But goals however they come are welcome and are an increasingly rare phenomenon for us. My big selection beef again is the selection of Kurumaya at right back. He deserves to play, but as I stated in my previous post, why on earth Oniki didn’t play him at left back and Nobori at right back I will never understand. It can be no coincidence that when they were swapped around at half time we started doing a lot better. Thankfully Consadole didn’t seem to target Kurumaya’s undeniable and obvious left-footedness. Unfortunately we seemed to be targeting it ourselves, with him getting caught out time after time by bad passes from his teammates. Or maybe not bad passes, maybe just passes that you’d normally make to a right back, perhaps forgetting that this right back has no right foot. Maguinho is still missing in action, presumably still being punished for scoring away against Oita. He’s currently our only fit right back, but still didn’t make the bench. I don’t get it at all. The bench was pretty lopsided, given that it was basically Arai and Kobayashi and a load of midfielders. I know we have injuries, but maybe a bit more balance would have been nice. It seems that a spot on the bench is a reward for doing well in a previous match, but usually comes with no chance of actually getting on the pitch. I always say it, but the three players who come on seem to be decided before the game and the rest are just sitting there making up the numbers. Moving on to subs, there’s always one that baffles me. On this occasion it was the apparent punishment removal of Leandro Damiao for missing the penalty. Yeah, it wasn’t a particularly good penalty, but at least Damiao had been involved in the match. Chinen played 90 minutes without having a shot. Not exactly what you want from a striker. He also picked up a booking in the first half, making it even more confusing that it was Damiao who was changed. It seems increasingly clear to me that Oniki really doesn't like Brazilian players and will do his best to leave them out if he possibly can. Or at least that’s how it seems to be to me. I agree that the worth of foreign players is often over-estimated in the J League where there sometimes seems to be a feeling that it a player isn’t Japanese he must be better. There are plenty of examples of this not being the case but it seems that at Frontale, or at least for Oniki, the reverse is believed.


Yamamoto, back from the referee sin bin, and keen to show us what we’ve all been missing -

Presumably with an eye on bringing more excitement into the Friday Night J League concept, the league decided to bring back the always engaging Yamamoto to ref the game. Absent since his super-clanger in the Urawa Shonan game, he was clearly intent on getting back to enjoying refereeing to the max, giving penalties where there were none, ignoring where there could have been and flinging cards around like he was an overly enthusiastic casino employee on his last shift before his summer holiday. The penalty we got was soft and probably outside of the box. Their penalty was probably fair enough but came with a feeling that he was trying to even things up. Yamamoto was clearly loving being back in charge and probably was aware that any clanger he made would be dwarfed in comparison to the one in his last game. It was a pretty erratic refereeing performance on the whole. But I don’t think we can complain too much about it, as the big decisions went in our favour for the most part. But would be nice to see someone doing a decent job, wouldn’t it?

A game of two halves -

Roll out the cliches, this was a classic game of two halves. We started reasonably but crumbled later on in the first half and by the time Consadole were ahead, we looked in all sorts of bother. There were some anonymous performances in the first half. Ienaga and Chinen were nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, Ienaga seemed to turn things around in the second half. Unfortunately, Chinen didn’t really. Jesiel was doing pretty well until he gave away the penalty and then he seemed to have a bit of a wobble, so perhaps his fortunes went in the opposite direction to the team as a whole. Probably Oshima’s did too. He looked immaculate for most of the first half but faded a little in the second. Unsurprisingly we looked better after switching players around to play in positions they can actually play in. The difference when Kurumaya returned to his left back spot was startling. He linked up very well with Hasegawa and it seemed that all of our dangerous attacks were coming down that side in the second half. But let’s not get too carried away about that second half. We battered them with shots but only scored once through a fumble, so although we clearly got the upper hand in the second half, the same old lack of finishing ability cost us again.


Oniki, increasingly bringing a little of Kashima to Kawasaki -

Here is a ridiculous (and not entirely serious) theory. Oniki is a secret agent from Kashima who was sent in to destroy our club and remove any vestiges of exciting and attacking football. Fortunately for us, he was pretty bad at his job to start off with and therefore couldn’t prevent us from winning the league and playing some reasonably nice football. Sadly, he is now getting to grips with his task and slowly managing to drain the enthusiasm and excitement out of all of us. Because we’re too nice, we will keep giving him chances to turn things back around, but of course he won’t really be trying to do that, he’ll be trying to destroy and exit. Seriously though, Oniki is really starting to express himself recently. It’s a real rarity that we manage to score more than once, which is bizarre considering the chances we are creating and the players we have. Ridiculously I have been saying for maybe almost two years now that I don't want Oniki in charge but this perhaps now seems to be a feeling that is shared a little amongst other members of the fanbase. It sounds stupid, but I’d much rather we were playing a bit more excitingly, even if it meant we lost some matches that we might otherwise have drawn. At the moment it’s dull and crushing 1-1 draw after 1-1 draw with an occasional victory where Oniki’s tedium plan misfires. If you play two matches, win one and lose one you get three points. If you draw both, you get two points and a crushing sense of ennui. In the pub I was asked who I'd want to replace Oniki if I want him to leave and to be fair I don’t really have an answer, which I guess was the point of the question. Fact is though, that I think I’d settle for pretty much anyone who could inject a little excitement at the moment. This is almost certainly a moot point though as I don’t think there’s any chance of him leaving anytime soon, no matter how miserable things become. Yeah! we’ve only lost once this year. Oooooooh, we’ve drawn seven times, six of which were at home. Two wins from nine home games is pretty awful form.


That’ll do, before I sink into further despair. Thankfully, we don’t have a game next week. And doubly thankfully our next game is away from home. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend that game away at Jubilo Iwata as the Sunday evening timing makes it impossible to get home from by public transport. Nice scheduling work J League! Also, I think the Yamaha stadium is hugely overrated, at least from an away fan perspective. Difficult to get to and with some pretty dodgy views. It’s a shame, as visually it seems to be a nice stadium, but all things considered the trip just doesn’t seem worth it. Who knows where Oniki will play Kurumaya in that game? It always seems to take him longer than everyone else to notice when something is not working, but surely he won’t start him at right back again, will he? After that we’ve got the excitement of the Emperor’s Cup at home against Meiji University. I really enjoy these games, and the selection for that match could also be pretty interesting. This is the point where I usually do some kind of positive sign off…

Team

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo (Yellow card 73')
DF 4. JESIEL (Yellow card 82')
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (Yellow card 36')

Subs
GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 46')
MF 19. SAITO Manabu (on for CHINEN 77')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto 
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for MORITA 87')


My Frontale Man Of The Match

A real mixed bag this game. Can’t really get too effusive as we 100% didn’t do the business. Kobayashi scored, but missed a real hatful of good chances. Jesiel was looking good till he gave away the penalty. Oshima had a great first half but kind of faded in the second. So neither of them can really be considered. I’ve narrowed it down to two and I’m not sure I can choose between them, so I’ll give it to….

HASEGAWA Tatsuya & MORITA Hidemasa - Hasegawa had another good game and is legitimately keeping his spot at the moment. Sadly there was no-one able to finish any of the many chances he made. All our major threats came through him. Morita seems to have come back from international duty a changed player. He was tidy and thankfully free of the sloppiness he sometimes falls into when trying over-fancy tricks. He did really well in this game and as I’ve criticised him in the past, I thought it was only right that I praised him on this occasion.


Goals

SUZUKI (Consadole) 39' PEN 0-1
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 69' 1-1


Highlights


Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Vs Urawa Reds (home) 1/6/19 - J League match 14

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Urawa Reds 

Damn, this was annoying. Plenty of fans of opposition teams would no doubt have been delighted by our last minute capitulation against Urawa on Saturday. I can’t deny that if this had happened to one of our rivals, I would have loved this. However, when it happens to your own team, particularly when you’re playing a particularly unlikeable rival, it really stings. Perhaps this has contributed to why it has taken me a little while to get round to writing this post.  Although the fact that our next game is not for a couple of weeks has taken the pressure off a bit with regards to getting a post done before the next game. Now we go into this break with a bad memory very fresh in the mind. We had the opportunity to give Tokyo something to dwell on over the next two weeks if we’d got things back to a four point deficit. Instead, they managed to extend their lead over us in this round of matches. And our other noisy neighbours Yokohama caught up with us on points. Still a long way to go in the league and FC Tokyo have a tricky period coming up with a lot of away matches and their talisman almost certainly due to depart for Europe. But this was another chance missed, another figurative opportunity blasted wide. Another metaphorical awful shot deflected into our goal by our defender. Here’s what we might have learned from this game, and be prepared, there’s going to be a fair bit of moaning.


Confusing team selection (again) -

Discussion of this point is unavoidable and it seems to be coming up in every one of my blog posts recently. Once again I want to stress that I know nothing, I just have my opinions. And it’s my opinion that it doesn’t make sense to play a left back at right back. When Elsinho left at the end of last season it was always going to leave a big hole to fill. I’m sure I’ve pondered before on here on why we’d let one of our best players leave, a player who was in consecutive J League teams of the year. We replaced him with a couple of potentially interesting new players. I thought Maguinho did well in the Super Cup. I also thought that Mawatari did well when Oniki dropped Maguinho immediately after the Super Cup. It was clear that Oniki didn’t trust or rate Maguinho as when Mawatari got injured we saw Morita and Suzuki playing at right back. With Mawatari back from injury it seemed that we had returned to some semblance of normality. But then Maguinho was back in the team for the long ACL away trip to Sydney and then seemed to have won the spot back again. Quite what Mawatari had done, I don’t know. But Maguinho was doing well and he scored against Oita where we also kept a clean sheet. Clearly this wasn’t enough for Oniki who late in that game replaced him with Kurumaya who retained the right back spot for the start of this game. Maguinho was back on the bench. Oniki seems to have a bit of a thing for playing Kurumaya out of position ahead of players who naturally play in that position. Although he started the season poorly (and let’s be honest, most of the squad did), he is still our best left back. Nobori has done a good job recently, but probably could do with a rest. But no, he continues to start. The real absurdity of this selection was the fact that Nobori has played at right back in the past, so the obvious thing to do would have been to swap them round. Well the really obvious thing to do would be to play a right back at right back, but it seems we’re never going to do something so predictable! In the end Kurumaya did ok, but he’s painfully left footed and it was obvious what he was going to do every time he got the ball. I feel Urawa definitely targeted him. And although they were probably equally as confused with the selection as we were, they seemed to work out that it was a weak point in our lineup quicker than we noticed it. Well, quicker than Oniki noticed it.


Aside from this selection, one other notable thing was the return to 4-4-2, Oniki apparently being unable to not play Kobayashi up front. I’m surprised he didn’t drop Damiao, as he seems to enjoy doing this. Instead the two played up front together, with Damiao pressuring the Urawa defence and keeper and Kobayashi not really doing much. He’s not been good at all this year and this was another dodgy game for him. Kobayashi’s usual problem of needing three or four shots to get his range is probably still there, but the problem now is that he gets only three of four shots a game, so sorts out his range just in time for the final whistle. He definitely plays better when he has to do things instinctively. If he thinks too long, it never seems to work. It probably would have been better for him to play him on the right and Ienaga in the middle with a 4-2-3-1, but like I said, Oniki won’t for whatever reason play him there. Wakizaka, one of our best players of recent games, and the player who is probably keeping Kengo our of contention right now dropped to the bench and never made it onto the pitch. We did alright in the second half, but we didn’t do well enough. Apparently in his post game interview, Oniki was more upset with the fact that we didn’t score a second than the fact that we conceded a deflected goal. Thing is, you decide the tactics, don’t you, Oniki and we always seem to play to hang on to a one goal lead instead of looking for more. And you failed to make any significant changes to the team or the tactics for the majority of the game and when you finally did, you made it in a bit of a confusing way.

It ain't over till we've conceded -

This game takes us up to 20 matches in total this year. In one quarter of these matches we have conceded in the 89th minute or later. Of course this is going to happen occasionally, but to have it happen once every four games is a bit much. Three times this has changed a disappointing but possibly useful draw into a loss (Shanghai away, 89’, Ulsan away, 90+1’, Gamba home, 90+1’). Twice it has changed a victory into a draw (Yokohama away, 90+5’, Urawa home, 90+5’). I’m not going to moan too much about the ref adding on four minutes and them scoring in the fifth of four minutes as this thing always seems to happen. Is there something in the rules to say that you don’t blow up and finish the game until the ball is in the middle of the pitch. Pretty sure there isn’t, but it always seems to happen that way. Not sure why he might have felt like adding a bit more time though as there were no substitutions or injuries in injury time. Substitutions are actually my big beef with Oniki in this game and in previous matches too. I know I always moan about his substitutions, but I seem to remember once moaning when we were chasing a game, about him doing two subs a minute after another, effectively killing some of the precious remaining time we had left. In this game, with us leading he decided to do a double substitution, replacing both of the forwards in the 87th minute. I know time wasting is not a very nice aspect of the game, but it seemed totally ridiculous when we were leading to make two subs at the same time. When we concede with the last kick of the game, you’ve got to think that if he separated the subs even by a minute Urawa might not have had time to score. He also seems to favour us taking the ball into the corner flag with about five minutes to go if we're winning, so he clearly is aware of the benefits of running the clock down. Quite why he didn’t use the subs as a legitimate opportunity to do so, I will never understand. Please someone explain this to me as it’s driving me nuts. Yeah, we don’t have the Kazama ethos anymore of attacking right up until the final whistle, which might also explain why we are turning single goal leads into draws, and draws into losses. However, he can’t really lament us not being able to score a second goal when pretty much everything he does when we are leading points towards protecting what we have, rather than getting any more goals.

Urawa wankery and refereeing no-cardery -

I think my feelings on Urawa are pretty clear, but in the past my ill feeling has been pointed more towards the significant wannabe hooligan/borderline racist element of their fanbase. As per usual in this game, they booed their hearts out, focusing in particular on Sung-Ryong, Kobayashi and bizarrely Eiji Kawashima who appeared before the game. Strangely they are still applauding Kurumaya. Still no idea what’s going on with that. In this game though, they also sang quite a lot, which in spite of what most people say, seems to be pretty rare in games against us. The real wankery on show came from their players in this game. Perhaps due to their ‘new’ manager and his Yakuza-esque image, they seem to have gone very dirty. Time after time bad tackles were rewarded with nothing more than a free kick. It took an eternity for them to get their first yellow card and when Ugajin got that, it probably should have been his third yellow. Add to this the fact that Maguinho was booked for his first foul after he came on, and you’ve got to ask some questions. After our enjoyable game with what seemed like a pretty good ref last match, we were back to the usual J League weak officiating. They kicked us around the pitch and got away with it. Makino seems in real life to actually be a reasonable kind of guy, (much to my disappointment as his panto villain image is a lot of fun). But on the pitch he’s a bit of a toerag, arms around Taniguchi’s throat and then a knee in the back as he walked past after the foul was given. There was a ridiculous amount of ref haranguing too, which went unpunished. How I long for the day we get another rookie ref who actually seems to put the rules of the game into practice instead of having his own agenda.


Doom and gloom and gloom and doom. These posts are lots of fun to read aren’t they?  Perhaps I’m still sulking about throwing away a win in the last minute, but there’s only so many times we can be ‘unlucky’ before we start to look at why we are being ‘unlucky’ so often. The overall performance was alright, but you can’t call it much better than alright when you consider how we dominated the game in the second half but only managed to score once. I feel like I’m constantly repeating myself in these blog posts, which might also suggest that we’re making the same mistakes over and over. If you’re looking for some optimism, perhaps you could say that some of the players did a reasonable job, but the problem is that we’re failing to finish off the very good chances we’re making. Ienaga’s late miss was a costly stinker. Kobabayshi’s toils have been mentioned above. Damiao only seemed to have one chance but he did at least put it away. Lovely passing, turning and control are all well and good but if they don’t create goals then we might as well be watching one of those ball juggling street football displays rather than an actual game. I criticized Kubo a few weeks ago, or rather people’s awe at Kubo, saying that he’s all very nice but there’s no end product. Now he’s scoring and assisting for fun and we are still beautifully possessing and failing to put away chances. Or he perhaps ‘was’. If he leaves FC Tokyo and their form collapses, perhaps that’s one bright spark we can find during this international break. Other than that, I’m going to just grumble away to myself which is good for you, as it means you won’t have to listen to me!


Team

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu

Subs
GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for KOBAYASHI 87')
DF 26. MAGUINHO (Yellow card 81') (on for KURUMAYA 78')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto 
DF 29. MICHAEL JAMES 
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 87')


My Frontale Man Of The Match
I dunno, a lot of average performances and some below average ones. If I had to pick someone, maybe it will have to be…

HASEGAWA Tatsuya - Another decent game and was a real threat down the left. Sadly, most of the time there was no-one there to put the ball in the net. Presumably Oniki will drop him for the next game and play Kurumaya in his spot.


Goals

LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 54' 1-0
MORIWAKI (Urawa) 90+5' 1-1


Highlights


Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Vs Oita Trinita (away) 26/5/19 - J League match 13

Oita Trinita 0 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale

This game has to be one of our longest away trips of the season. For some reason I always seem to like the longer away trips the most and this was another good one. It was my first time to visit this stadium and it took me back up to 100% complete for the current J League teams’ grounds. It was a nice stadium, pretty big but unfortunately with a running track which looked surprisingly knackered, nestled in the green hills that seem to surround Oita city. The ground wasn’t very full, but I guess this is caused by them having a stadium a bit too big for their current needs given that they have yo-yoed from J1 to J3 and back in recent years. There was a surprising lack of awareness of the team in places in the city we went too before and after the game with locals asking us what was going on. Perhaps the upcoming rugby World Cup has made people forget about football and Trinita. Once again there was a large amount of mixing between the two groups of fans. I guess that going forward I should probably comment when this doesn’t happen as mixing seems to be more common than segregation recently. I don’t know if this is just for friendlier teams, but once again, it’s very welcome. This was actually their second highest crowd of the season, only being eclipsed by their home game against local rivals Sagan Tosu. With FC Tokyo losing on the Saturday, this gave us a real opportunity to put some pressure on them at the top. We’ve been waiting for the wheels to come off for them and admittedly this is only one defeat, but perhaps, and hopefully, this could prove to be the start of some rotten form for them! Our other top five rivals, Oita (obviously), Nagoya and Kashima all lost on this match day. So this should go down as the perfect football weekend for us. I’d love another one of them this weekend too please if it’s not too much to ask. So this blog post is going to be all sunshine and flowers, right? Well, maybe not, but I’m not going to moan much. Here are the significant things we might have discovered from this match.

Oita here to stay? -

Oita have been one of the big surprises so far this season. There were some thoughts that maybe they were in a false position but I think they did a pretty good job against us. If they had a bit more luck with their final ball they could have really given us some big problems. The game started with both sides being pretty cagey, but once things settled down it was Oita who were having the better chances, at least up until that final pass or shot. Lots has been said about Frontale old boy Shun Takagi being crucial for them and he certainly was an important element of their defence, combining his keeping with sweeper like defensive play. However, I think we were obviously aware this was going to be the case and Leandro Damiao did a great job of pressuring and pressing him every time he got the ball. Our goal didn’t come from this hassling though, but the hassling definitely stopped them from being too fluid at the back. I wonder if we might have had more success if we’d been playing with two up front as then there would have been much more pressure on the back three and Takagi. Obviously we would have been lighter in midfield where Oita presumably would have had the extra player, but perhaps as defending champions in reasonable form we should be forcing our play on them rather than adapting to their system. But they were at home, and they were above us in the table so perhaps it made more sense to revert to our usual old 4-2-3-1. And we did win, so can’t complain about that. But yeah, I kind of hope that Oita aren’t in a false position and that they can keep on doing well this year. They seem like a nice club and I really enjoyed this away trip so would love to repeat it next year.


New ref, tiny linesman -

The pregame team announcement was exciting for me as it was accompanied by what I thought was the name of a new ref. And it was! This was Kasahara’s first J1 game and I thought he had a pretty good one. One ridiculous decision in the game was an offside which was totally missed by one of the tiniest linesmen I have ever seen, who was laughably behind the play. Short legs perhaps. Obviously this has nothing to do with the ref though, as it’s not his job to make those calls. Something slightly weird in this game was the fact that two Oita players made absolutely horrible challenges on Frontale players resulting both times in injuries to the fouling player. On both occasions I would have expected at least a yellow for the challenge, but perhaps they escaped due to being down injured on the pitch for a long while afterwards. In any case, if the worst I can find to moan about is a couple of yellow cards not being given, you’ve got to say it was a pretty decent J1 debut for the ref. I wonder if he was called into action because of the suspension of the ref in the Urawa/Shonan game. Whatever the case, he did a better job than a lot of the established refs do who we see messing up week after week.

Significant selections, (or rather omissions) and confusing substitution

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this game was the team selection and the subs. For different reasons though. The selection was significant in a few aspects. Ienaga was back and whilst he took a little while to get going and from time to time did his overly complicated fancy touches that didn’t come off because he wasn’t quite up to speed, he had a decent game considering his injury lay off. After getting an assist in Sydney, Maguinho kept his spot and scored his first goal. I think it’s pretty even with regards to whether he or Mawatari should start at the moment. Maguinho seems more attack minded but Mawatari seems to be one of our better set piece takers. A difficult choice for Oniki. On the striker front, I think all of Leandro Damiao, Chinen and Kobayashi are fully fit now. As he did earlier in the season, in this game Oniki stuck with the player who had been scoring goals. Whether this means that Damiao will now be dropped as he didn’t score in this game, we’ll see. I don’t think there can be any justification for playing Kobayashi up front by himself at the moment, as I still feel this isn’t his best position, and we’ve currently got two others who deserve a shot at that spot. If we're playing a front two it's a different matter. Perhaps given that Kobayashi was coming back from injury this selection wasn’t as significant as it could have been, but in any case, it was quite brave of Oniki to start with Kobayashi on the bench. Equally brave was the complete omission of Kengo from another squad. Since he has been back from injury he hasn’t even made the bench. Personally speaking, and setting emotion aside, I’ve got to say I agree with this too. Kengo seems to have dropped off significantly since last year and hasn’t played particularly well this season. But he, like Frontale as a whole, seems to be a slow starter every year. Perhaps he’ll come into some form in a while, but while Wakizaka is playing as well as he is it would seem a bit stupid to replace him with someone who might not do so well. I guess the final piece of possible selection bravery was continuing with Noborizato ahead of Kurumaya. I’d say this one is another close call. Kurumaya was terrible earlier in the season and Nobori has done a decent enough job of taking his place. As I didn’t see the final ACL game, I can’t comment on how Kurumaya did in that game, but I would have thought Kurumaya must be due a run out in the league soon, even if it’s just to give Nobori a rest.
So this all sounds like I am in full agreement with Oniki for once. Some agreement, I’d say, but not full agreement. The subs in this game were really weird. Or at least the middle one was, where Maguinho was replaced at right back by Kurumaya. I don’t know if Oniki is on some long term mission to play players out of position to give them practice in unusual situations, but it was weird to see the very left footed Kurumaya come on at right back, particularly when Oniki’s favorite right back sub Suzuki was on the bench. Now Suzuki has to deal with the fact that not only does it look like he’s not going to be played further forward as he might prefer, but also that he’s fallen down the pecking order in the position he’s been moved to, being surpassed by someone who is playing even more out of position than he was. I have my suspicions that it might have been one of those pretty weird two-step substitutions that both Oniki and Kazama seem to like, with Kurumaya coming on for Maguinho and then a bit later Suzuki replacing Nobori with both of them reverting to their normal sides. Perhaps this was the plan but it was then disrupted by Wakizaka having to be replaced due to what looked like cramp. In any case, it seemed a bit of a risky change to make with only a one goal lead away from home against a team above us in the table. But I guess it worked, so let’s put it down to me not understanding football. As long as we keep winning I’m prepared to look stupid every week.

Double pitch invasion - 

Finally, by far the most significant aspect of this game was the fact that we had plastic bags invade the pitch on two separate occasions. It was strange because it wasn’t even particularly windy. Kasahara managed to put his foot on one, pick it up, shove it in his pocket, presumably to recycle later, without losing track of the game. Further props to him! 



So that was that, a crucial yet quite uninspiring victory. Another job done game, rather than a beautiful footballing masterclass. We’re now in second and with Oita playing FC Tokyo next, we have the potential to make up some more ground. However we’ll have to beat Urawa, who, as bad as they are playing, seem to have a habit of disrupting us at important times. They have just sacked their manager so will be hoping for the new manager bounce. I will keep my fingers crossed that this doesn’t apply when the new manager is the same person as the last caretaker manager. Long may chaos reign with them, and let’s hope we can give them something more to moan about. After that we’ve got a couple of weeks off due to whatever prestigious competition the Japan national team is involved in this time that only Morita has been selected for. Seems a bit confusing that it’s him, or at least that it’s only him, as he’s probably been the weakest link in that position all season so far, but good luck to him anyway. We all know he’s a good player even if he hasn’t been showing it much this year. Let’s hope we can sign off for our little break with a nice win. Go Frontale!


Team

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 26. MAGUINHO
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO

Subs
GK 21. ARAI Shota
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for MAGUINHO 68')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for WAKIZAKA 79')
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 66')
MF 25 TANAKA Ao
DF 27. SUZUKI Yuto


My Frontale Man Of The Match

Sorry, I left this a bit too late to write this post so I'm not sure who I decided was man of the match. I think it might have been Hasegawa, but can't remember why now. Taniguchi was good too. As was Wakizaka. So rather pathetically, I'm going to give it to...

HASEGAWA Tatsuya, TANIGUCHI Shogo & WAKIZAKA Yasuto - Don't ask me for details though.


Goals

MAGUINHO (Frontale) 28' 0-1


Highlights

 

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Vs Sydney FC (away) 21/5/19 - ACL Group Stage Match 6

  Sydney FC 0 - 4 Kawasaki Frontale

Another ACL campaign is over and done with. This year we went out with a bang which will probably give us all some thoughts of what might have been. But to be honest, it’s one good result covering up a series of lacklustre performances and a bit of bad luck. I’m not going to go into any detail about this match as once again, I was unable to watch this game. This year the ACL scheduling has been very cruel to me. Tuesday night kick offs at 19:00 make it difficult for many people to get to these games. Though saying that, we had some decent attendances for our home games.

So, what went wrong in the ACL this year? Of course already people are taking about mental weakness and us not taking the competition seriously. I think both of these are lazy assumptions and aren’t accurate but of course, people like to say these kind of things. It’s clear that after winning two titles we are not chokers anymore. You also can’t say that we didn’t prioritise this competition. In fact, I’d say it’s pretty clear that some of our early league games were affected by us saving players for ACL games. Leandro Damiao was apparently a player who we bought with the ACL in mind. Although in our first ACL game he came on in the 89th minute just after we’d conceded, so read into that what you want. More likely the main problem was more to do with our notoriously slow starts to seasons. At the start of the year, plenty of what Oniki seems to consider to be his starting eleven were just playing terribly. Some still haven’t really started playing well either. Ienaga, Morita, Nakamura, Kobayashi all had very slow starts to the season. Combine this with Oniki being reluctant to give players outside of his preferred eleven anything for than 10 or 15 minutes of pitch time and you can understand why we didn’t play very well.

Our opposition in the group had some bearing on the results too. A group made up of three league champions and one team who had reinforced well in the off-season and could well be the K League champions this year was never going to be easy. Although saying this, neither Shanghai or Ulsan looked particularly good, but we still contrived to look worse. Also, injuries didn’t help our cause. We still have plenty of players on the sidelines and we lost some important players for important games. Although some of these players were the ones who I think have been playing pretty badly this year. Even so, the injuries have got to be taken into account I think. Then there was good old fashioned bad luck. Morita giving away the penalty in the first game was unfortunate. If we’d picked up a point away at Shanghai instead of starting our campaign with an unfortunate loss who knows what might have happened. If everything panned out as it did, we would have gone through ahead of Shanghai in the group. Away at Ulsan, you can’t really say we were unlucky. We totally dominated the game, but failed to score due to woeful shooting and then failed to defend at the death. Two home draws with the same two teams came because of more dodgy defending and more failures to put shots away. Apparently against Ulsan at home we only had 4 out of 21 shots on target. They had 3 of their 4 and the game finished 2-2. Against Shanghai, they had 2 shots on target and scored twice (although we only had 3 and also scored twice, so that probably says something about the quality on show). Two wins against what looked like a very poor Sydney team have added a bit of gloss to the final standings, but the home game against them, the only ACL game I managed to see live this year, was one of the worst performances I’ve seen us put in all season and we’ve had some stinkers.If we manage to qualify for the competition next year, Oniki really has to address the slow starts we’re making to campaigns. How he manages to make experienced players avoid being quite so unprepared and rusty, I don’t know. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to sit and moan instead of having to try and think how to sort out a situation.

But let’s finish by looking on the bright side. This game saw another goal from Leandro Damiao, two more from Wakizaka and another from Ao with us coming racing out of the traps and establishing a big lead in the first half. We could do with some of that form transferring over into the league, where we need to get a poor performance against Nagoya out of our systems and get back to winning ways, preferably playing a bit better than we have been. One other positive is that now we can have no doubt over what our priority might be and therefore we will presumably see what Oniki considers to be our best available eleven in our next match. We’ve got quite a bit of ground to make up and now have no distractions (until the Emperor’s Cup comes round). So, let’s look forward to that, and also look forward to a nice way trip to Oita on Sunday. I’ve heard it’s going to be pretty hot and sunny. Three points are a must, I think.


Team

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 26. MAGUINHO
DF 29. MICHAEL JAMES
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO

Subs
GK 21. ARAI Shota
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki (on for SAITO 62')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for TANIGUCHI 83')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 70')
MF 27. SUZUKI Yuto

Goals 
  
WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 9' 0-1
WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 20' 0-2
TANAKA (Frontale) 28' 0-3
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 59' 0-4


Highlights

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Vs Nagoya Grampus (home) 17/5/19 - J League match 12

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Nagoya Grampus

This was a game that asked more questions than it answered. As long as Kazama and Oniki are in their current positions this will always be portrayed as a master vs apprentice kind of match up. Whereas last year's results would have given Oniki some encouragement, this game felt to me like Kazama had the upper hand. There are some caveats to this though. Nagoya have a lot more money than us and until this year you could definitely say that they had more big name signings than us. Being able to get Leandro Damiao thanks to DAZN title money might have changed things a little in this respect though. With two consecutive titles, it feels that we should have the better team, (large parts of which Kazama put together), but that is maybe in the past now. On the night I feel that Kazama got his tactics right and out-thought Oniki. This was a fairly exciting game, probably more so for the neutrals than either set of fans. At the same time, it was a bit lacking in quality, with only six shots on target in total for both teams. It was a battle though, with plenty of action and a draw was probably the right result. I said above that there were plenty of questions from this match, so instead of my usual 'what we’ve learned’, let’s make this ‘what we are asking’ about this match. So, here’s what we’re asking after this match.

Rotation comes round again -

We came into this match with five league wins in a row and some of our many injured players returning to fitness. With our recent record in mind, you’d think that we’d follow the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach. Instead, we’re back to Oniki apparently picking his favourites again. In my last post I praised Manabu and Leandro Damiao, who Oniki promptly dropped to the bench. Apparently Damiao was ‘tired’. I’m not sure I completely believe this. One big question is whether Oniki is rotating and saving players for the ACL game away in Sydney on Tuesday. We will probably never know, as players who were conceivably being rested were called on to rescue us after a pretty awful first half capped off by what was a lovely goal from Nagoya, which was the least they deserved. If this was rotation, surely it would have made more sense to rotate in some of the players who've been on the bench recently. Instead Abe and Kengo sailed straight back into the starting line up. Once again, I’m uneasy about criticising Abe too much as he was again being played out of position on the right, but he had a rotten night and was lucky to stay on the pitch for as long as he did. Kengo wasn’t at his best either, and neither really contributed anything positive. Maybe Yamamura could have been given a chance, or maybe Suzuki, our right midfielder, could have played right midfield, instead of being our last-20-minutes-substitute-right-back, the only opportunity he has had recently. And the right was a real weakness as nothing was working down that side. Everything encouraging went down the left, although we did continue to plug away in vain down the right and through the horrendously congested middle. Kurumaya is presumably now out of the side as a tactical decision rather than through injury. Hasegawa and Manabu seem to be equally favoured by Oniki, so he basically seems to swap them around on a game by game basis, regardless of past performances. Both played well against Shimizu, so it would have made sense to start them both in this game I would have thought, especially as Manabu seems to be the left winger who can cope best with being played out of position on the right, particularly in the formation we played in the last game when both wingers doubled up on one side for most attacks in a kind of 4-2-2-2 formation. Instead, we went back to our early season 4-2-3-1 and back to our early season slightly dodgy performances.


Friday night's alright for fouling -

I’m not sure all of our tactical problems were due to the switch back to 4-2-3-1 though. I think we were just out-thought and out-fought in this game. Of course Kazama knows how we like to play. In fact I’d say that if there are any J-League managers who don’t know how we play, they should be fired immediately as we’ve been doing pretty much the same thing constantly over the last couple of years. The normal way of disrupting this, which I’m really surprised more teams don’t use, is to sit with plenty of players deep and wait for a fast counter attack opportunity with a long ball and pick up a 1-0 victory. And also to rough us up a bit. Kazama seems to have instilled some of the latter in Nagoya recently and this recent defensive toughness might suggest that they could make a decent fist of the league this year. Their defence looked fairly solid and ahead of them, there were plenty of players stopping anything coming through the middle. Still, we persevered with endless sideways passing before trying to thread the ball through impossibly small or just non-existent gaps. They also did a fine job on the roughing us up part of the equation. They were kicking us all over the pitch with Nishimura giving us practically nothing. Seeing Nishimura announced as ref is normally a reason to fear the worst, as he usually loves to make a really stupid and controversial decision in order to turn the focus onto himself. However in this game he seemed more inclined to let pretty much everything go. He had a bad night by my reckoning, but I guess his performance pales into insignificance compared to what happened in the Urawa/Shonan game! In the second half, particularly after the introduction of Manabu and Damiao, we seemed to stop being affected so much by these tactics, perhaps giving as good as we got. Damaio’s goal was a perfect example of this. I can’t imagine Kobayashi or Chinen scoring such a goal, as when Damiao gets moving he seems like he’s a bit of a battering ram, forcing his way through defenders and powering the ball home in spite of the Nagoya keeper getting a couple of hands behind the shot. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened in this game if we’d stuck more with our line up and system from last weekend. You know, that game we won 4-0.


Next (and probably final) stop Sydney -

This is probably the last time we will have to question our priorities, as there’s a fairly high chance that we’ll be out of the ACL after Tuesday. But was this rotation to save players for Tuesday? You could argue that a league game against a team above us is more of a priority than a game that even if we were to win 20-0 could still result in another limp ACL exit. I don’t think we’ll ever find out if this was what we were doing though, as this kind of information is always pretty scarce from Oniki and the club. Still, one consolation to take from another hugely disappointing ACL campaign would be that we can finally say for sure what our focus is and therefore have a bit more of an idea of what Oniki is thinking.


As I’m writing this I’ve just seen that FC Tokyo have won again, stretching their lead. You could say that a draw in this game was the perfect result for them, with two of their nearest rivals dropping points. That’s pretty annoying to be honest, speaking as someone who doesn’t want them to win the league. You can’t really argue with us only getting a point though. We just couldn’t deal with what they threw at us. If we look at our recent run of decent results, you’ve got to admit that a lot of those wins came against bottom half teams. Against teams around us in the table, we are getting draws (FC Tokyo, Nagoya, Kashima, Yokohama). The other team currently making up the top six is Oita, who we are away to next weekend. This is now a must win I think, as we are not going to have a chance of winning the league by beating bottom half teams and drawing with everyone else. And we're certainly not going to claw back any ground on teams above us by drawing against them. Hmmmm. Plenty to mull over, and an interesting week coming up I guess.
 

Team

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 17. MAWATARI Kazuaki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 25 TANAKA Ao
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 20. CHINEN Kei

Subs
GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO (on for TANAKA 55')
MF 19. SAITO Manabu (on for ABE 60')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for NAKAMURA 80')
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya


My Frontale Man Of The Match

I’m a bit torn again this week. There were nowhere near as many good performances this week and there were some stinkers. Hasegawa looked decent but was given no protection by a useless referee. Sung-Ryong made some important stops and could have done nothing about the goal. Damiao and Manabu both made a real difference when they came on but I’m loathe to give it to a sub, particularly as we didn’t go on to win the game. This probably only leaves me with one option, so it goes to:

JESIEL - two in a row for Jesiel. Again, was for the most part rock solid at the back, particularly impressive considering he was up against Jo, who many would consider to be the best striker in the J-League.


Goals

MATEUS (Nagoya) 45' 0-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 69' 1-1


Highlights
 


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Vs Shimizu S Pulse (away) 12/5/19 - J League match 11

Shimizu S Pulse 0 - 4 Kawasaki Frontale

Another picturesque away trip and another win. That’s five wins in a row in the league now. And although our injury list is shortening, we still have some big name players absent so that’s no mean feat. Kurumaya and Chinen were back on the bench in this game, but there’s still no sign of Kengo, Abe, Ienaga and... Caio Cesar. Of course there will be no sign of Nara for a while as he recovers from surgery on his knee. He’s expected to be back in four months. Interestingly only Ienaga and Nara were actually listed as injuries, so perhaps the others are on their way back and just trying to get fit or maybe Oniki is playing it tough on the returnees and keeping faith with the players who’ve been winning games. I think it would be a surprise if some of these players didn’t go straight back into the team when they are fully fit, but you’ve got to admit that we’ve been playing a bit better with some of them injured. Unlike with the last two years of Shimizu away fixtures, this was a game that was played in decent weather. If anything it might have actually been a bit too warm and sunny. But still we weren’t able to see Fuji as it was a bit cloudy in that direction. In any case, it was another very nice away game experience with plenty of mixing between the two sets of fans and a pretty good turnout from us. I always say it, and to be honest recently it seems that I always say ‘I always say it’,  but it’s really nice to have a friendly atmosphere at a game. It really makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. And there probably should be some kind of good feeling between the two clubs as Shimizu had four ex-Frontale players in their matchday squad. I’m sure Elsinho is still fresh in our minds, but alongside him there was also Nishibe, Chong Tese and Kusukami. So plenty of familiar faces. And also plenty of goals, which has been something of a rarity recently. All in all a very enjoyable day! Here’s what we might have learned from this game.


Players stepping up to be counted-

Every cloud has a silver lining. Or perhaps one player’s cloud is another’s silver lining. Can I mangle any more proverbs in this post I wonder? This is all a roundabout way of saying our lengthy injury list is giving people chances and most of them are grabbing them with both hands. I think all of the standout players in this game would probably not be in Oniki's first choice eleven if he had a fully fit squad. Whether you agree with him on this is another matter, I guess. But injuries have gifted Damiao, Manabu, Wakizaka and Jesiel chances and in this game they really made the most of them. Damiao was fully of energy and enthusiasm. He showed great control and strength to hold off two defenders and then run half the length of the pitch before beating another defender to cross for Wakizaka’s goal. The way he brushed off the opposition seemed almost superhuman. He was really up for this game, punching the air after slide tackling a Shimizu defender, always encouraging his teammates and seemed really gutted when a few of his chances went wide. Conversely, he looked really happy at the end of the game. He really seems to care! He totally deserved his goal, and it was an absolute beauty. I won’t bother trying to describe it as it’s something that needs to be watched. Poor Nishibe could have had his head taken off if he’d got in the way of it. Wakizaka grows in confidence every game. Perhaps his first goal for the club was not 100% his goal, but the fact that he managed to get in the right position from a really fast break was impressive. I’m not sure what his goal celebration with Damiao was about. They seemed to be playing tennis. Nice! Jesiel is fast moving up the pecking order of central defenders. Nara’s injury has put him in the picture, the fact that he isn’t registered for the ACL means that Michael James will play those games and therefore Jesiel is getting his chance in the league. I have to say though, that as well as Michael James has played recently, Jesiel looks like he might be the best of all of our defenders. He’s solid, assured and strong. There was a brief misunderstanding between him and Sung-Ryong, but I guess they haven’t played much together and there could be a few teething problems due to language involved. He looks very impressive at the moment though. And finally, on to Manabu. He’s finally getting a run in the side and he is another who is staking a claim to stay in the side in spite of whoever gets fit. Like Damiao, he looks hungry and very dangerous. Let’s hope that form can continue.


Exciting goals, exciting tactics -

We were spoilt by getting two absolute cracker goals in one game, both of them right in front of us. The first two goals did the job, but Oshima and Damiao’s were top notch. The fact that both missed out on goal of the week seems crazy to me, but bear in mind that this is coming from someone who is in no way impartial and the fact that the winner of this competition came from a local rival team’s super-hyped player definitely has some bearing on why I think this. I’m claiming an assist for Oshima’s goal, as I shouted ‘HIT IT!!!’ as he received the ball. It was great to see him shoot from distance again as he hasn’t done so as much recently and he has always been a danger from outside the box. Damiao teeing himself up for a overhead was lovely too. Also lovely was Yamamura’s strength to win the ball and release it to Hasegawa, whose dribble and pass perfectly set Damiao up. A fantastic finish, but also some good team work in the build up.
Tactically, we seem to have returned to the 4-2-2-2 that we used and seemed to work so well against Urawa in the Super Cup. Admittedly, Urawa might not have been particularly in form at that stage, and recently we have been playing against teams near the bottom of the table, but having Morita and Oshima sitting in front of the defence, Kobayashi and Damiao up front and Manabu and Wakizaka in between the four of them is working well. They are not restricted to just playing like wingers, often doubling up on one side, sometimes playing through the middle. Their roles seem very flexible and their high energy style of play seems to work well in this formation. Hasegawa was equally as effective when he came on, so it seems like in spite of the injuries we’re spoilt for choice at the moment. It was also good to see Yamamura get a bit more of a chance. He played for 30 minutes and was probably more in the Kengo role (with us switching back to more of a 4-2-3-1) than when he has come on further forward recently. I think he did really well and deserves to get some more time on the pitch soon. Problem for him is that almost everyone is doing well at the moment. Morita didn’t have the best of games, but he did improve as the game went on. I wish he’d stop trying flashy and showy passes though, as when inevitably they don’t come off, we look a bit cocky, stupid and also put ourselves in danger. But yeah, I don’t want to be mean to him, as aside from a few blunders he did ok.


Another manager bites the dust -

Once again a defeat to Frontale has put an end to an opposition manager’s employment. Jan Jonsson got the sack after this game. The fact that some of the Shimizu fans were applauding Damiao’s goal might suggest that some of them were hoping for a big defeat in order that he got the boot. I like to think it was just good sportsmanship though. It’s a shame for him, as for large parts of the first half they caused us some problems, and if we hadn’t scored just before halftime, I think the second half would have been very different. But football matches change on small things, and we never really looked in any danger in a second half where we looked pretty lethal and probably could have scored more. It always seems surprising to me that a loss to Frontale seems to sometimes be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for opposition coaches. The fact that we have won the league for the last two seasons seems to not matter. Perhaps we are still perceived as a small and not so dangerous team. Plenty of people lost to us last year, so maybe teams shouldn’t be so surprised if it happens to them.


Apologies this post is a bit of a mess. If I were well organised I would probably use some of the time traveling home from these away games to write down some thoughts before I forget most things about the game. However, sadly I use the time after the game before the journey home to enjoy the local booze, so the journey itself becomes pretty unproductive. Our next game is coming up on Friday, at home against Nagoya and this forms the start of a little run of potentially tricky and quite important games. Nagoya are doing well at the moment. As are our following league opponents Oita who we visit the weekend after. In between these two games we are away in Sydney for our make-or-probably-break final ACL group game. So there’s plenty of travel coming up for the team and the fans. It will be interesting to see who Oniki chooses to send to Australia. Whilst we still have a chance, it’s out of our hands so perhaps he’ll send a semi-strong team to see if they can get our side of the job done and save some bigger names for Oita. It could be a good way to reintroduce some of those recovering players back into the team, but it would be a shame to break up any momentum we are building. Big decision time for Oniki I guess. I haven’t been able to moan much recently, and long may that continue! Go Frontale!


Team

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 17. MAWATARI Kazuaki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu

Subs
GK 21. ARAI Shota
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 86')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for KOBAYASHI 58')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
MF 25 TANAKA Ao
DF 27. SUZUKI Yuto
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for WAKIZAKA 64')


My Frontale Man Of The Match

Loads of good performances and a couple of cracking goals make this a really difficult decision. As he’s really starting to show what he can do, I’d love to give it to Manabu. Four different goal scorers don’t help me narrow it down either. But perhaps slightly bizarrely given the scoreline, I’m going to give it to...

JESIEL - started really well and seems to somehow still be improving. I think he could be very difficult to dislodge from the starting eleven if he keeps these kind of solid, strong and tidy performances up.
 


Goals

KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 23' 0-1
WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 45' 0-2
OSHIMA (Frontale) 80' 0-3
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 90+1' 0-4


Highlights


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Vs Shanghai SIPG (home) 8/5/19 - ACL Group Stage Match 5

  Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 2 Shanghai SIPG

Let’s not beat about the bush here. I didn’t see this game due to work, so I’m not going to waste anyone’s time by commenting on some dodgy highlights I saw. The fact is, we’re still just about alive in the competition but need to beat Sydney in the final game to progress whilst relying on Ulsan not losing to Shanghai. Ulsan are already through as group winners so have absolutely nothing to play for. And Sydney haven’t lost at home in the ACL this year. So not exactly full of hope. I’ll save the dissection of the failures of this campaign for the next ACL post (if we don’t qualify for the next round). It was nice to Leandro Damiao get a chance and score. It wasn’t nice to see us concede two pretty poor goals, both of which seemed to pit Nobori against Hulk, which doesn’t exactly seem like a fair fight. The stats say that we had 13 shots but only got three on target which doesn’t really seem good enough and as it turned out, wasn’t good enough for us to take three points. Onwards and hopefully upwards to Shimizu away on Sunday.


Team

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 17. MAWATARI Kazuaki
DF 29. MICHAEL JAMES
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo (Yellow card 88')
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa (Yellow card 58')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO (Yellow card 63')

Subs
GK 21. ARAI Shota
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
DF 26. MAGUINHO
MF 27. SUZUKI Yuto (on for MAWATARI 78')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for HASEGAWA 78')
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for MORITA 84')


Goals

HULK (Shanghai) 6' 0-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 13' 1-1
TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 66' 2-1
HULK (Shanghai) 71' 2-2 


Highlights