Tuesday 6 September 2016

Vs Blaublitz Akita (home) 3/9/16 - Emperor's Cup 2nd round

Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 1 Blaublitz Akita

After last week’s horror show against Kashiwa it was probably a good thing that we could distract ourselves with this year’s first Emperor’s Cup game. Presumably the team selection was made with an intention to give the first team some confidence after last week’s disappointment. It was pretty much a first choice team but with Arai in goal instead of Sung-Ryong (away on international duty securing a good victory for Korea against China and playing 90 minutes!). Normally I would expect Kengo and Yoshito to be rested in games like these, but maybe the absence of Oshima and Kobayashi (also on international duty), along with the confidence smashing defeat last week meant that this game would potentially provide an opportunity for the first team to score a few goals, regain some faith in their own abilities and make everyone happy again. Not sure how well this worked for the first hour or so of the game though…

Possibly ominously, it started raining as soon as the players walked out on to the pitch. I quite enjoyed the rain though. It was like one of those spray mist things that you can use to water plants and consequently was quite refreshing! Slightly butchering the usual football cliche, this was not a game of two halves but a game of three thirds. Or more accurately a game of one section of two thirds and one section on one third. The first hour was full of the same mistakes that littered the game against Kashiwa. Giving the ball away constantly, an inability to make challenges at important times, an uninterested Yoshito, plenty of passing the ball around inside our own half but not actually going anywhere. Not particularly encouraging. The difference from last week was probably the fact that we were playing the excellently named Blaublitz Akita a team currently playing in J3, who were not as capable of punishing our mistakes. Or so we thought until the 28th minute when we let a Blaublitz player waltz through our non-existent midfield and blast one into the corner from quite a way out. It was actually a pretty good finish and I don’t think Shota can be blamed for not reaching it. So far, so bad. The rest of the first half played out in a similar way. Nakano got a bit of stick from the crowd (as much stick as Frontale fans give anyway) which I thought wasn’t really that fair as there were players playing worse than him (hello Yoshito!). At least Nakano was playing with some enthusiasm. He did give the ball away a bit though. He does seem predominately right footed but was being used on the left which gives him a bit of trouble straight away. Probably this contributed to him wanting to roam across the pitch a little. Otsuka, who was back from illness not injury gave his usual high intensity performance. I think we have definitely missed his willingness to chase all over the pitch.

The second half started with Nakano being removed and replaced by Eduardo. Bit harsh on Nakano but there definitely was a need to change something as things weren’t working and we were in danger of turning a bad performance against Kashiwa into a season ending trough of nervousness and poor performances. Takeoka moved from centre back to right back, replaced by Edu and Elsinho pushed up onto the right wing, Moriya moving to the left. Initially, not a great deal changed though. We had two major let-offs early in the second half as Blaublitz had two good chances to extend their lead. Thankfully due to a combination of poor finishing and bad refereeing (something which plagued the match, some of his decisions were literally incomprehensible), we escaped. Just before the hour mark, Tasaka was ready to come on for Otsuka when Takeoka took one of many smacks of various sorts from a Blaublitz forward. He left the pitch on a stretcher with us all fearing the worst, potentially putting us down to about four fit defenders in the whole squad. Thankfully he was able to come back on a couple of minutes later and the planned substitution, which had sensibly been delayed whilst we worked out what was going on, went ahead. Tasaka made a big difference. I’m pleased, as he doesn’t seem to have had many chances recently. He gave us some real drive, probably doing his best to prove a point, and we finally started looking dangerous. We had two wings both providing dangerous attacks. Moriya and Kurumaya were doing great down the left and Elsinho and Tasaka were tearing up the right. Moriya and Tasaka were doing all the things I would have expected Okubo to be doing, pressuring defenders on the ball, chasing stuff down, running at Blaublitz. It was clear that the tide was turning.

Our first goal came from an unexpected route. I was hoping to check the video highlights to refresh my memory a little, but it seems that highlights of emperor’s cup games get deleted quite quickly. I have found one video, with an interesting musical accompaniment added that I’ll post below, but I am guessing that it might not be around for too long. [Edit: there now seems to be a proper video up, so have changed the link to that one]. So, yeah, Eduardo smashed a shot in from the edge of the box. I seem to remember that he was up for a corner which got cleared and then played back towards the Blaublitz goal. It was a nice finish in any case and I’m really pleased for him. He seems to be a player who really cares and he was certainly very happy to score. I guess he might be starting next week.  After this first goal, Blaublitz’s resolve was broken and it wasn't very long before we went ahead. It was a strange goal, or at least the reactions were. Moriya crossed the ball along the ground to Okubo who was just outside the box. He fired a powerful curling shot right into the corner and didn’t really react at all. Given some of his shots in recent games I think the crowd thought he’d drilled another one into the side netting and it really took a while for anyone to realise it had gone in. It was quite a bizarre moment. As cool as Okubo’s reaction was, I think it was a bit of a weight off his mind. After the goal he really upped his game and seemed to really want to get involved. It was great to see. I’ve been moaning a bit about him recently and I felt we have been carrying him, but if he’s coming back into form it might well be just at the right time and his performances will have a very significant effect on how this season finishes for us. Pleased to have you back, Yoshito!

By the time of the third goal Blaublitz were hanging on. I was pleased to see Tasaka get a goal as he hasn’t really had many chances this season for whatever reason. It was normal assist service resumed as Kurumaya, our recent assist king drove a low cross into the box which Tasaka walloped into the roof of the net. Quite a dramatic finish. Perhaps it was a bit tough on Akita, but at least they can go away with the knowledge that they were pretty easily beating the J1 leaders away from home for about an hour. I salute their fans as this was a pretty long away trip and they did a great job of supporting their team. Hope they enjoyed their visit. Can’t exactly say it was the confidence restoration we were hoping for, but maybe we’ll get something from the fact that we definitely finished the game on a high. Let’s hope we can take that into next week against one of this season’s bogey teams, Avispa. I think we owe them a beating.

Positives and negatives. Let’s start with the negatives and end on a high. The first hour was pretty horrible, we were pretty hopeless and very reminiscent of the game against Kashiwa. Other big negative is that in spite of playing 90 minutes, Takeoka limped off the pitch at the end of the game helped by a couple of team staff. Will he be fit for Saturday? Who knows, but I hope so. I hope if he is fit he’ll be playing at right back though and that Edu will be back in the middle. If he’s injured I guess Edu will go in the middle and Elsinho will have to stay at right back the whole game. That will probably leave Itakura as the only other fit defender though. Bit worrying, especially given the rate we are picking up injuries recently. Positives, surprisingly, I can find quite a few. Firstly we’re through and we came back from behind. Perhaps the score flattered us if you take the game as a whole, but it’s a cup game so the win is really all that matters. Secondly, Okubo is back in form (maybe). After his goal he really looked up for it. Let’s hope he can start banging them in again. Sanfrecce’s Utaka is injured so the top scorer position could be back on if he starts scoring regularly. Thirdly, a couple of goals for people who I think will really enjoy having scored. And finally a couple of people are coming back from injury/illness. I mentioned Otsuka above but some guy called Morimoto who some of us might be able to remember was brought on towards the end of the game. Could be a great time for him to be back from injury. It’s been a while and we were wondering what had happened to him. Hope he’s on the bench again at the weekend. At half time I couldn’t have imagined I would have such a positive feeling after this game, but I got there with my optimism. Let’s hope we can do things right at the weekend and fully get back on track!


GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 20. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 27. OTSUKA Shohei
MF 22. NAKANO Yoshihiro (Yellow card 42')
FW 13. OKUBO Yoshito 

I Shun
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (on for OTSUKA 58')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki (on for OKUBO 90+1')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
DF 23. EDUARDO (on for NAKANO 46')
MF 32. DUKE Carlos


MAEYAMA (Blaublitz) 28'  0-1
EDUARDO (Frontale) 67'  1-1
OKUBO (Frontale) 77'  2-1
TASAKA (Frontale) 82'  3-1

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