Sunday 21 October 2018

Vs Vissel Kobe (home) 20/10/18 - J League match 30

Kawasaki Frontale 5 - 3 Vissel Kobe

This is a blog post that is once again low on details and high on emotion, this time with the bonus of being fueled by alcohol! The potential presence of a certain Mr. Iniesta has driven J League attendances into something of a frenzy recently, and our home game against Kobe was no exception. If you add into this the fact that our attendances have been steadily creeping up and we’ve had sell outs on a few occasions, this was always going to be a tricky game to get a good seat for. Our good attendances are leading to increasingly crazy pre-game queuing rituals. It’s great for us to be getting big crowds, but it’s not so great that now you have to get to the ground a good five or six hours before if you’re looking to get the view you want. And personally speaking, we’re comparatively lucky, being in the SG section with its different entry gate meaning that we don’t have to join the crazy early morning lottery that some have to take part in each home game. Anyway, all of this is a big preamble to basically say, we had plenty of time to kill before the game and I decided to fill it almost entirely with booze. This definitely added to the excitement. And to be honest, this was a game that could have made even the most sober of fans imagine that they’d been on the sauce. Looking at the scoreline you might think that Oniki Frontale had been swapped with Yahiro Frontale for a week, but it probably made it sound more of a contest than it was. Kobe scored a couple of crackers from long range, one of which was celebrated in particularly obnoxious style by Mita, (no Schadenfreude in seeing him get booked for petulantly kicking over a water bottle as he was being substituted. None at all. Honest…), and got a real gift of an own goal from us, probably delighting fans of clanger defending worldwide. But we came back. And in the second half, you can say Kobe got away lightly with us ripping them to shreds time after time. There was a lot of talk before the game of this being Fake Barcelona vs the Real Barcelona. Although I’m not sure quite how the presence of one ex-Barcelona player elevates the rest of the Kobe squad to that level. I suppose though that was the thinking behind the Iniesta transfer. Also no Schadenfreude seeing a total moneybags team who are attempting to thwart their opponents by buying every football player in Japan and a few from overseas too, fail again in their quest to be Asia’s number one football team and instead have to look over their shoulders at the bottom of the table as they slip further and further down towards J2. Anyway, enough of this and on with talking about the few things that happened in the match that I can remember, in no particular or rational order.

The Iniesta factor! I think we kept him pretty quiet, or perhaps, his teammates kept him quiet. We definitely didn’t put him under that much pressure and we stood off him quite a lot. Kengo didn’t clatter into him like he did with Neto a few weeks ago. It seemed like Iniesta and Podolski mainly wanted to pass to each other, and who can blame them really. Sure, Kobe scored some good goals, but they only had four shots on target in the game and their defensive frailties have got to be a concern for them. Apparently this is the first time Iniesta has been on a team that have conceded five in his career. I guess that’s shows there’s a big difference between Barcelona and Kobe! He praised Frontale in his post match comments and I now wonder if he might be regretting joining Kobe. Although the full to bursting bank account must compensate a little! It’s good that we performed so positively in what could have been a tough game (if Kobe weren’t rubbish…). I’d say that they probably need quite a few more players if they’re serious about building a team that wants to challenge. In spite of the score in the first half, I think their keeper kept them in it. He made a couple of good saves and it looked like we could be in for a frustrating evening, particularly when we conceded the third. But we really stepped it up in the second half and it was lovely to watch. I guess Hiroshima taking one point from their last five games, and generally speaking, this happening before we started our games, has got to be a big morale boost for us. And this comeback will also be a big boost, along with the knowledge that we were playing some great football in the second half. The fourth goal was a beauty, and once again we had different goalscorer for every goal. Quite a few of these goals were pretty significant too. It was great to see Manabu get his first league goal, taking his chance due to Abe’s suspension. I suspect that this might help him push on, as he hasn’t quite got going for us yet. Funnily enough, I thought he was probably about to get subbed just before he scored but he had another 15 minutes after his goal where he looked very dangerous and was unlucky not to get a second. What a time to come into some form! Kobayashi also finally scored a penalty! It took some guts to step up after missing his last two and it was great to hear that Oniki had asked Ienaga to have a word with him if we were awarded a penalty. Apparently the conversation was something along the lines of ‘You’re Frontale’s ace, you can do it, but if you don’t want to, I’m fine with taking it’. I think it’s probably an unseen side of Ienaga that he seems to really support the other players in the team. Which makes me once again remember the marvelous shoulder flick at Yuma Suzuki who had messed with Nara. Someone please make a gif out of that! Lovely memories! Oshima and Elsinho also deserved their goals. It’s been a while since they last scored so they were long overdue. Elsinho seems to have really upped his game in the last few matches after a bit of a low spell, perhaps something to do with the plight of his fellow Brazilians. Oshima finished the game with two assists and a goal which is a pretty good performance doing the things that get noticed, alongside the usual less noticeable but perhaps more important work he does in the midfield. And all of this was achieved without Kurumaya (injured), Abe and Morita (both banned). Finally, Nishimura was the ref, and once again he was rubbish. His name was probably the one I screamed the most during the game as he, from my biased point of view, messed up decision after decision. But just to show you I’m not biased, I think we were a bit lucky with the penalty decision. Sorry this post is extremely jumbled and rambling. But that’s how my head has been today.

There are now four games to go and we have a four point lead. Things are looking bright, especially given Hiroshima’s current form, but I’m not counting my chickens yet. In normal life, I’m not particularly superstitious, but when it comes to football I’m terrified of jinxing things, so I’m just keeping my mouth shut right now. It seems that we’re coming into form though, (but not wanting to jinx it, I’ll say that we could lose our next match. Is that enough to cancel out the slight confidence I expressed?).  Two more wins in the last four games should be enough to seal it. Three would confirm it. Depending on Hiroshima though, we might be able to get away with less. It would be nice to carry on in this style though. Our remaining fixtures, in order, are Kashiwa at home, Cerezo away, FC Tokyo away and Jubilo at home. Hiroshima have Jubilo away, Sendai at home, Nagoya at home and Sapporo away. This week saw ex-Frontale player Chong Tese do us a big favor scoring against Hiroshima. Hiroshima’s remaining games see them face Neto and Okubo and current loanees Miyoshi and Itakura. I’m sure they are all playing 100% for their sides, but think that maybe they’d also like to do us a favour and give Hiroshima a thumping for us. Frontale family!

Next up though is Montedio Yamagata away in the Emperor’s Cup on Wednesday. I’m quite looking forward to that trip! There’s no league game next weekend though, so we’ll have to wait till the week after to see if we can take one step closer to a second consecutive league title. It looked so unlikely earlier in the season, particularly when they bought out the latest fixtures poster with the slogan ‘to consecutive title’ just as we lost to Gamba and put in a stinker of a performance. But, one step at a time, fingers crossed and keep up with all those pre-match rituals that seem to be working at the moment. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 37. SAITO Manabu

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
FW 9. AKASAKI Shuhei
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for SAITO 81')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto (on for OSHIMA 86')
MF 27. SUZUKI Yuto (on for CHINEN 87')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

It seems a bit unfair to single anyone out in this game as it was such a great team performance in the second half so...

EVERYONE - they can all have it, and why not, us fans can have it too. It was a great performance and a great atmosphere. Lovely!


KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 13' (PEN) 1-0
OWN GOAL (Kobe) 15' 1-1
FURUHASHI (Kobe) 28' 1-2
MITA (Kobe) 35' 1-3
IENAGA (Frontale) 43' 2-3
SAITO (Frontale) 65' 3-3
OSHIMA (Frontale) 70' 4-3
ELSINHO (Frontale) 76' 5-3


The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that a previous 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. And we have that extra footage video again at the bottom.


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