Tuesday 7 March 2017

Vs Sagan Tosu (home) 5/3/17, J-League match 2

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Sagan Tosu

First home game this season was against Sagan Tosu. We never really seem to do that well against them, so it might not have been the best way to kick off our home campaign, particularly after the disappointment of last Wednesday. It gave Harakawa an early chance to come back to us after his loan move to Tosu and in spite of him scoring their only goal last weekend he didn’t make the starting line up. He did play most of the match though as they were forced into a change pretty early on in the game. The stadium was pretty full and it seemed that us Frontale fans are up for the new season.

That starting line-up unsurprisingly changed quite a bit from last Wednesday with Kurumaya being the only person who started both games. Sung-Ryong was back in goal and the back four was Tasaka, Taniguchi, Kurumaya and Nobori. Michael disappeared from the squad again, like he did after the previous ACL game, but this time it was more understandable maybe … The defensive midfield duo was Neto and Oshima, with what looked like three in front of them, Nakamura, Abe and a back from the wilderness Otsuka, with Kobayashi up front. The subs were Arai, Nara, Morimoto, Miyoshi, Moriya, Rhayner and Itakura. In addition to the greatly missed Elsinho, we now also have Ienaga on the injured list which is unfortunate as he hasn’t really shown us what he can do yet. I hope he’s fit again soon. I've heard that Elsinho is going to be out for a couple more months at least. I thought Nara might be starting as he is presumably now banned for the next three ACL games thanks to a completely incompetent referee, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe he’ll be used a bit more in upcoming games.

The line up was announced as being a 4-4-2 and whilst it felt a bit like that sometimes, Otsuka definitely seemed to be dropping back a bit, so maybe more like the usual 4-2-3-1. But at the same time, the full backs didn’t seem to be getting forward as much and Oshima and Neto seemed to be taking turns to venture much further up the pitch. A couple of initial surprises were that Otsuka seems to have bulked up a bit, or maybe I’ve just forgotten what he looks like. It’s been a while, after all. Also, Neto took some corners early on. I hope this is to give us a bit of variation, rather than because we have a team where no-one is particularly good at corners. We started the game pretty well and scored in the 7th minute. A miscontrol in the Sagan Tosu midfield was seized on by Kobayashi who prodded the ball forward, chased after it and drove the ball home in between the keeper and the near post, with possibly a slight deflection of the defender’s boot. This was a bit of a false dawn though, as although we were making a few chances we were giving Tosu plenty of opportunities to draw level. They were causing us a few problems and we couldn’t get the ball for a while. When we did have a chance, it seemed that it more often than not ended up with an offside, as the Tosu defence were playing a very high line. It was a fairly scrappy first half with both teams giving the ball away unnecessarily. On 34 minutes Tosu were level. A cross from the right was inexplicably punched away by Sung-Ryong when it looked easier to catch it. He got a decent distance on the punch, falling just outside the box to a Tosu player, who unfortunately was able to half volley it into the net through a few players. It was a pretty soft goal to concede and I don’t know why he didn’t catch it. It seemed to be at a good height to do so. Anyway, it was probably no more than we deserved. Our passing was definitely not clicking like it normally does. Also, for some reason we were sending a lot of our goal kicks long. Normally we seem to only do this when a team is really pressing us, but they didn’t seem to be doing so. Unsurprisingly, when we punt it long, the ball comes straight back at us. We don’t exactly have a team blessed with height. I think it’s something that we should be able to do as an option, but not sure why we were doing it so much in this game. The first half ended 1-1. It was very scrappy. Something wasn’t working. Whilst I couldn’t say anyone had played terribly, there were a lot of errors from different players and we weren’t looking good.

Otsuka had had a fairly quiet half, not doing the pretty effective run-around-like-crazy-for-60-minutes thing we have come to know him for. Even so it was a bit of a surprise to see him changed at half time, but it’s nice to see an early change when things aren’t working. He was replaced by Rhayner, who had looked bright at times against Eastern in the week, so things looked positive. Kengo moved into the middle more and Rhayner played out on right. There were more chances at both ends though, so maybe not much had changed but at least Rhayner was looking good though. He seems to be warming up to the J League fairly quickly and given the result today, I’d hope he starts a few games soon. Tosu were quite tight on us bringing the ball out of defence and a quite a few times fouled us as we were starting a counter attack. No cards from the ref though, even though it was the same players doing the same spoiling fouls over and over. It was pretty annoying to be honest and a bit of a destructive way to play football. The ball wasn’t quite dropping for us. We had a few good chances but didn’t seem able to hit the target. Apparently over the course of the game we had 13 shots, ten of which were in the second half, so it shows that we were trying, but very few of them were on target. We were going over the bar or wide of the post and not testing the Tosu keeper much. And we were running out of time. Towards the end of the game Rhayner, for the second time in two matches got pushed in the face and knocked to the ground, this time a hand, rather than the elbow against Eastern. Not even a foul according to the officials and it happened right in front of the linesman. He must be wondering if it’s a special Asian Football Association legitimate technique. I bet if he tries it he’ll be sent off though. He was given a yellow card for a fairly innocuous challenge earlier in the half, so he seems to be a marked man already. The game finished with one last chance for us. A Kobayashi cross was met by Taniguchi, whose header was cleared off the line by a Tosu defender. A follow-up header from Miyoshi went over the bar. So that was that. 1-1 and whilst it was a bit frustrating, it was probably a fair result, as whilst we had created a lot more than Tosu, we were sloppy and couldn’t keep the ball or hit the target very often. Guess we are still a work in progress…

Positives and negatives. Let’s start negative today. Our passing wasn’t good enough and our finishing was woefully inaccurate. We still seem to be trying to work out how we are going to play. We are missing Elsinho a lot. We might be missing Ienaga, but as he hasn’t shown us what he can do yet, we don’t really know at this stage I guess. Positives, I know we conceded a bad goal, but aside from that seemed to defend ok. Rhayner looks like he will be a good addition to the squad. I hope he can get a start soon. Hmmm. Nothing else really.

Up next is Kashiwa Reysol at home on Friday. They absolutely hammered us at home last year so hopefully we can make up for that. They’ve had one win and one loss so far, but they did comfortably beat Tosu away from home which is something we couldn’t do at home. However, at least we don’t have an ACL game this week so maybe our preparation will be a bit easier than it has been the last two weeks. Let’s hope we can get things sorted out a bit though, as although we haven’t been terrible at all so far this season, we still look a lot like a work in progress. We did start last season with an away win and then a home draw though, so we shouldn’t despair. It’s just that last year’s opening home draw saw us scoring four times and that looks quite unlikely at the moment. But still, fingers crossed and let’s hope we can get back to our old ways soon. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO (Yellow card 90+5')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
FW 27. OTSUKA Shohei

GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki (on for ABE 84')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki
MF 13. MIYOSHI Koji (on for NOBORIZATO 87')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
FW 22. RHAYNER (Yellow card 58') (on for OTSUKA 46')


KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 7' 1-0
TAKAHASHI (Tosu) 34'  1-1


The Frontale youtube channel has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that last year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want.

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