Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Vs Yokohama F Marinos (away) 4/6/17, J-League match 14

Yokohama F Marinos 2 - 0 Kawasaki Frontale

Well that wasn't much fun was it? Sunday's game at the Nissan stadium was probably the stage where our busy schedule and our luck caught up with us. By the way, it says match 14 above but we've only played 13 games. The 13th one is the postponed one against Urawa that will now be played on July 5th. I don't necessarily think we played so badly, but we were undone by some dodgy defending and horrendous refereeing against a Yokohama team whose tactics sure weren't pretty, but were pretty effective. Thankfully, we now have almost two weeks to rethink and recover. We have been on a fantastic run of results but now we have to face the problems that these good results have helped cover over.

As has been the case for many of our games recently, our starting line up was largely unchanged, only being altered slightly by the latest injuries. Sung-Ryong continued in goal with a fantastic record of only conceding twice in six games... until now.  In front of him were Tasaka on the right, Taniguchi and Nara in the middle and Kurumaya on the left. The recently effective defensive midfield combination of Neto and Kengo was in front of them, and further forward, the rotating front four of Ienaga, Kobayashi, Abe and Hasegawa. Put them where you want. As I've mentioned recently, they seem to constantly shift positions, a tactic which was working pretty well till this game. The bench was Arai, Nobori, Edu (recovering from a recent knock so not 100% fit), Kano, Otsuka, Rhayner and Moriya. Yokohama had once again filled their stadium by enticing people to come with a free shirt with every ticket deal. The power of big money sponsorship I guess! The stadium was consequently pretty full and we did a good job bringing plenty of our own fans. The atmosphere was bouncing, there was plenty of singing and we were making quite a bit of noise. Out of our two usual openings to games (either coming racing out of the blocks or flailing around hopelessly) we selected the sloppy and disorganised latter option. We weren't so bad and our midfield was doing a decent job, but there were loads of misplaced passes and a complete lack of a final ball going forward. The defence was a little wobbly, but seemed to more or less have things under control. Yokohama's one tactic was evident from the start; sitting back and waiting for a quick counter attack where they could lump it to the fast big guy. Unfortunately we were giving them multiple opportunities to employ this tactic with our wasteful possession. We also were up against another awful ref. This time he was from Poland. Presumably FIFA is on a mission to promote the idea that shit refs can come from any part of the world. I don't know why, but he seemed to be 100% against us, giving everything to Yokohama. The same challenge made by us gave away a free kick and by them, bizarrely earned them a free kick and a few times, a booking for us. I guess in a strange way this is perfect consistency, the ref awarding the foul against us whatever the situation. It's weird that we can go for quite a few games picking up hardly any yellows and then get three in one game. It was a local derby I guess, but it wasn't a physical game and like I said, pretty much all the decisions were going in one direction. Not a great deal happened in the first half. There were a few chances either way, but nothing notable really. I felt that we were coming into the game a little more towards half time but we weren't playing our best stuff by a long way.

The second half started similarly. We were on the up and dominating possession. But it seemed that everyone had received a bit of a talking to at half time. Both sides seemed more up for it. Their first goal came on 53 minutes. Our defence was nowhere near any of their players as they were allowed time to cross. Tasaka wasn’t with their striker on the other side of the box who hit it across the goal first time. Obviously it fell to their other striker who was in loads of space and neither Nara or Sung-Ryong could get anywhere near the ball to block it. We had plenty of people back, but were like statues. Kind of reminiscent of the away game in Thailand, but can't really blame the heat this time. Cue time wasting from Yokohama. The goal was responded to with a couple of substitutions from Oniki. I guess he had these in mind before they scored, but I'm not sure why they weren't done at half time if he was considering changing things, as it was less than 10 minutes into the second half. Tasaka was replaced by Rhayner and Nobori came in for Hasegawa. It seemed like we switched to three at the back with Rhayner and Nobori being the wing backs. But Kurumaya was still bombing forward though. To be honest the formation was a bit of a mystery to me. Both subs started having a decent effect pretty quickly, getting very involved and running at the Yokohama defence. As had been the case for most of the first half though, we were too ponderous in our build up, breaking forward and then just playing it around in front of their penalty box for a while before losing the ball. When we did shoot it was either hopelessly high and wide or as powerful as you'd expect a back pass to be. Ienaga wasn't having a great time, being guilty of both of the above. Things still haven't really clicked for him yet and if he is going to be a starter, I think he probably needs to find a bit more consistency, as he's played well in bursts, but has generally not quite been with it. But our other forwards were proving equally wasteful in front of goal. Abe had a pretty quiet game up until he scored a disallowed goal. At the time I was furious with the linesman, but the replay seems to suggest it was probably offside. Not as clear cut as either me or the linesman thought though! After he'd picked the ball out of the net and curtailed his celebrations, he was replaced by Kano. Don't know where he played either to be honest, but it seemed that Kengo was playing further forward so I guess he could have been slotted in next to Neto. We were piling on the pressure but not getting anything due to our bad finishing and some bizarre decisions from the ref. We had a nailed-on penalty waved away when a Kengo cross/shot was clearly handled by the defender. The ref and lino missed it and gave a goal kick. At least give us the corner!! We also had Rhayner breaking forward at speed and being scythed down by a desperate lunge from a Yokohama player. In spite of the ball falling to one of our players who wanted to play on, the ref pulled it back for the free kick, which he then stopped us from taking quickly. Yokohama were a niggly, fouly team, leaving the boot and studs in on multiple occasions but the ref was blind to it for the most part. Of course I would say this, but I think the ref was their best player in this game. At least defensively, in that he broke up most of our attacks one way or another. We still had time to concede again and it was pretty much the story of the game for them attacking wise. Long ball, quick break, static defence. Suckered twice by a team who were sticking to their horribly negative game plan so well. There's not much else I can say or want to say about this game. We were done. Credit to them for carrying out their mission well, but jeez, if I had to watch that kind of game every week... Guess that's why they need to give away shirts to get people to come.

Positives and negatives. Let’s start positive. We have almost a couple of weeks off to regroup, recover and reorganise. We didn’t seem to pick up any fresh injuries in this game. And the big positive as I mentioned above is that I’m not a Marinos fan so don’t have to watch my team play hoof ball every week. Negatives. Maybe not as many as you might expect. Going forward, I don’t think we played terribly, it was just our finishing which was rotten. And it was really rotten. All the momentum and confidence we had built up over the last few games has gone I would imagine. Our defence couldn’t deal with the long balls and counter attacks and switched off at crucial times, which is a bit worrying. We were static and flat-footed. Last year, if we conceded two we’d score three, but we can’t rely on that this year. Our shots lack power and accuracy. Well, that’s what I’m saying now. I wasn’t saying this when we were on our good run and scoring, so guess I might be being a bit unfair and overly dramatic. But on Sunday, it was certainly true. We were toothless as an attacking force. I wonder if we also might be having some tactical problems. I think our plan A seems to work quite well (although it didn’t have any cutting edge on Sunday), but plan B gets a bit confusing. It looked like we might have switched to three at the back after the first two subs, but it didn’t really feel like we had. We certainly didn’t look like we had any more players back when we needed them. It feels somehow like people don’t really know what they are supposed to be doing at the back sometimes. But yeah, I know, this wouldn’t be mentioned if we had won. On Sunday though, the more significant problems were definitely at the other end of the pitch. Yeah, we were being hampered by the ref, but we didn’t really test their keeper much. We had more shots than them and more possession, but when you only get 50% of your shots on target, and the ones that are on target have as much venom as a back pass you have a bit of a problem. Let’s hope this is a blip and that we’ll be back on track in the next game. We’ve lost both of our local derbies so far this season without scoring a goal and put in a couple of very substandard performances. Maybe we’re tired as it’s mainly the same players who have been playing twice a week all season so far, but now we have a break from the ACL and a little rest from any kind of action, so that can’t be an excuse in our next game.

That next game is Sanfrecce Hiroshima at home. They are having a rotten season so far, but I think most people would imagine that they will turn it around at some stage. Let’s hope it’s not against us. It will be interesting to see if there is any significant change in personnel or tactics. I’m not sure there needs to be, we just need to have players performing to their potential or at least not having a stinker. Anyway, I think I am going to try to forget about football for a week or so but I still have just enough enthusiasm to muster a subdued ‘go Frontale’.


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (Yellow card 34')
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo (Yellow card 27')
MF 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (Yellow card 79')
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for TASAKA 54')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 22. RHAYNER (on for HASEGAWA 54')
MF 25. KANO Kenta (on for ABE 81')
FW 27. OTSUKA Shohei

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Let's forget about this for this game...


HUGO VIERA (Yokohama) 53' 1-0
TOGASHI (Yokohama) 84' 2-0


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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