Cerezo Osaka 1 - 4 Kawasaki Frontale
This year’s visit to Cerezo was a bit of a dead rubber but it did provide us with the opportunity to visit their new stadium, literally in the shadow of their old stadium. It’s quite a bit smaller, but at the same time quite a bit better. No running track! Hooray! They do seem to have stiffed the away fans a little though as we were put in a pretty flat stand (can’t find a better antonym for steep, so that will have to do) so the action at the other end of the pitch, whilst closer than usual, was pretty difficult to discern. You’ll be pleased to know that it didn’t stop me questioning offside decisions from my perfect 90 degree angle viewpoint. And they stuck a load of advertising hoardings diagonally between us and the pitch, so sadly we weren’t quite as near to the action as we could have been. But it was definitely more fun than being in another athletics stadium. They also now have a beer truck outside and two craft beers made especially for Cerezo available, which made a nice change from the usual stadium fare. I say this but after sampling the Tokyo Verdy beer (containing kale for colour and DEFINITELY not taste), at their game against Ryukyu yesterday I have now been reminded that just because something is different and new, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is better. A heavy day on Friday enjoying our first Kansai away trip for two years contributed even more than usual to the game passing me by in something of a daze. The loud pumping bass of the PA system felt like a bit of an assault to my broken body, but you know, these things make us realise that we’re still alive, and made me power through the Cerezo beers to get the hair of the dog power going. A few more words on the deadness of the rubber of this match. Of course neither team really had anything to achieve in the league that they hadn’t already, what with Cerezo comfortably mired in mid table and us having won the league already. But there were some things to still play for. Okubo announced his upcoming retirement at the end of the season before the match so we were allowed to share in the experience of him playing against us for the last time. Certainly it felt a lot more positive than when he was turning out for FC Tokyo against us. We put up a banner encouraging him to get to 200 J League goals (presumably after this game). However, he’s got a lot to do in the next two games (probably from the bench) to reach that target, but we can now wholeheartedly cheer him on. And it was nice that we got a chance to say goodbye to him at the end of the game with a good old clap along with Cerezo’s Okubo song and then with our Okubo song which they generously played! Very nice of them. I will double down on this compliment by saying that they gave a nice reception for both Yamamura and Tanno and even clapped us for taking the title. Can’t wait for YFM to do that in the last game of the season… But yeah, thank you Cerezo and good luck for 9 goals in the next two games Yoshito. I guess Cerezo are quite keen to finish above Gamba. If you can’t win the league or qualify for the poisoned chalice that is the ACL, your next aim has to be putting one over on your neighbours I guess. I’m sure Gamba will be equally motivated in their next game against us to do the same. And for us, we have the ongoing aims to get as many points and as many goals as physically possible that Oniki seems to be pursuing. I’m sure it’s not just me who really wants to score the most goals in the league and I suspect Oniki has his eye on it. We need to get four more than YFM in the next two games which sounds like a tough ask, but we are playing them in the final game which affects the odds slightly perhaps. Also Damiao is now one goal behind Daizen Maeda in the golden boot race. I really want him to win that and I think he’d really deserve it if he did. So basically it was once again the strongest possible team put out by Oniki. I really feel for the players who’d been on international duty who’d put in some serious air miles in the last ten days. Oh, and Yamane even had to play some football in two glorious 1-0 wins against the Asian football powerhouses of Vietnam and Oman. Praise the lord that there is a competent manager in charge of the Japan national team who can get those kind of dazzling performances and results against all the odds. Given how much I’ve written already about things that are only tangentially about the match, it’s probably a good thing that my memory of the game is hazy, otherwise this blog post will go on forever. With that in mind, let’s do a little bit about the match.
Hmmmm, what happened again? I have limited notes but will do my best with them. If I recall correctly this wasn’t an amazing game for us but amazingly we took our chances! With us recently apparently playing more of our matches having neglected to take the handbrake off and really grinding out results, it was something of a surprise to see us scoring freely. And long may that continue! Damiao’s two goals were from quite similar positions and were both nicely taken. The first came with the obligatory VAR delay, but knowing that it was Nishimura reffing, I felt quite confident that his ‘respect my authority’ attitude would see us get the goal. He does always like to grab a bit of attention though with a surprise or two though, so there were some doubts. After the goal it was nice to see the players celebrate with Jesiel’s shirt. He was the only player missing in what we can now be pretty sure is Oniki’s preferred 11, having flown back to Brazil to get his serious Kengo-like injury treated. Looks like we won’t be seeing him for quite some time… Damiao’s second came from the diminutive Tachibanada smashing his way through the Cerezo midfield with the ball apparently glued to his boot. Great work again from him. It was nice to see Marcinho get a goal, especially after he was through and got taken out just as he was about to shoot. Ridiculously bad decision from Nishimura I confidently said from my seat, later slightly amending my opinion to ridiculously good save. It might be tough being a ref, but trust me, nowhere near as tough as it is being an ignorant bore in the stands. And the final one came from Miyagi after a great bit of work from Tono. Perhaps Damiao wasn’t so happy that he didn’t get the ball, but it was a lovely cross and a lovely finish. This might all make it sound like it was quite one-sided, but it wasn’t really. Cerezo had a lot of good chances and were let down by terrible finishing on a few occasions and stopped by great goalkeeping on a few other occasions. in the end, the stats were fairly even and whilst I am delighted it was 4-1, it didn’t really feel like a 4-1, which in turn makes the fact that it was 4-1 even more delightful perhaps. Equally delightful was Miyagi’s chicken dance goal celebration. Don’t know if it’s going to be a regular thing, but I liked the surprise of it and it would go nicely with Wakizaka’s finger thing as another goal or celebration pose. One last thing, it seems like we’re allowed to twirl towels again now, which is nice and one step closer to being able to sing once more, I guess. I think these things are decided on a stadium by stadium basis though, so maybe we won’t be able to do that on Saturday at home against Gamba.
Next up… oh, I just mentioned that. Our last home league game of a season which is fast coming to an end. Hopefully we can keep the goals coming as Damiao and us as a team need plenty to keep a few hopes alive. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento
MF 47. HATATE Reo
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 23. MARCINHO
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for IENAGA 83')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for NOBORIZATO 73')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for WAKIZAKA 80')
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for WAKIZAKA 80')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 73')
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for HATATE 83')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Tachibanada’s dribble was amazing, Damiao’s finishes lovely, but the reason this was 4-1 and not 4-3 or 4-4 was down to…
Sung-Ryong JUNG - Some saves which looked great at the time but only improved when I saw them on the highlights. And no way he could have done anything about the goal. Bravo!
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 5' 0-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 40' 0-2
MARCINHO (Frontale) 49' 0-3
OKUNO (Cerezo) 80' 1-3
MIYAGI (Frontale) 85' 1-4