Sunday 11 November 2018

Vs Cerezo Osaka (away) 10/11/18 - J League match 32

Cerezo Osaka 2 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale

Well that was all a bit weird! In spite of this game resembling all of our recent Cerezo disaster performances and exposing our thankfully not so common, but all the same, slightly predictable weaknesses if the opposition get the conditions and their tactics right, we ended up leaving Osaka with our second successive title, secured with two games to spare. This was a far from vintage performance. In fact I’d say it was more like a corked bottle of supermarket plonk that had been stored on a windowsill for the whole summer. The pitch was shaggy and dry. It’s not unreasonable to think that if we know we struggle on dry pitches with long grass, the opposition will probably work that out too. And let’s be honest, Cerezo are usually a team who are more interested in destroying the beauty in a game of football to annoyingly eke out a positive result, so it was no surprise they used the conditions to their advantage. But anyway, I’m not going to dwell too much on the result and focus more on the fact that we did it! We are champions again, and although the circumstances of the victory were a little strange, it still feels pretty good!

Unsurprisingly given what we could achieve, this was a game that was very well attended by Frontale fans. We filled the away section and spilled over down the sides of the ground. We were making plenty of noise and seemed to be up for it, both on the pitch and in the stands. Cerezo started the game the way a team whose coach is soon to leave and who have nothing much to play for would. They seemed to be already on the beach, although I guess that cliche doesn’t resonate quite so well given the J League season finishes in December, rather than May. I suppose that their general lethargy, with everyone behind the ball with the occasional hoof forward counter attack is how they normally play though. The middle of the pitch in this game was horrendously congested. We couldn’t get through it, and although it felt like we’d eventually get a break, we were a bit sloppy with our passing, particularly when clearing after one of their infrequent attacks. It was by no means a great first half. We’d dominated on possession, but they’d had by far the clearest and best chances. The stats say we had four shots in the first half, but this seems generous to be honest. I was pleased to see Abe up front in place of the injured Kobayashi. Apparently, the Kashiwa player who smashed his face in with his elbow apologised after the game last week, but it must have been a bit of a bummer for our captain to miss another opportunity to lift the trophy, after having to make do with a cardboard version of it last year. Kurumaya being available again meant that Nobori was able to move forward into the usual Abe position. It’s a shame for Hasegawa and Saito that they didn’t get an opportunity, but it’s probably fair enough given that Nobori’s been doing well recently. He didn’t last that long though, leaving the pitch midway through the first half, when he was replaced with Chinen, Abe moving out to the left. Perhaps this disrupted our game plan a little, but to be honest we weren’t exactly shining before the enforced change anyway.

We started the second half with the bit between our teeth though, and came out firing. Suddenly we were starting to look more dangerous, but still we were overplaying things a little, no one seeming willing to have a shot. However, this momentum we were building resulted in us conceding. It was from a quick Cerezo break and the defending once again looked a bit dodgy. We huffed and puffed our way through the half and were putting them under some pressure but still not really enough pressure. Saito and Suzuki came on with around 20 minutes to go. I was a little surprised to see Elsinho subbed. There has been talk that it has something to do with him leaving us at the end of the season which would be a real shame. Perhaps Oniki is auditioning Suzuki for the job. In the 90th minute we were handed a real gift of a penalty. I think it was the right decision but have no idea why the keeper felt he needed to make the challenge. Glad he did though! Ienaga stepped up and put it away comfortably. If only he’d done that with a couple of our previous penalties we might have had the title in the bag earlier! We were back in the game, and in spite of us presumably knowing Hiroshima were losing we still seemed to push on for the win. Instead it turned out we were pushing on for the loss, and we got it in the 94th minute. The goal came from another quick break, this one started with a Cerezo handball, not noticed by the ref, and finished with an easy pass to a totally unmarked player and a big deflection off a sliding defender. We were then left with the slightly bizarre situation of Cerezo celebrating the win along with pockets of uncertain excitement in our end and amongst the players as we searched for an update from the Hiroshima game. There were no announcements or updates on the screen. I guess Cerezo were not that bothered to be honest, and in spite of us being fairly confident of the score in the other game, we only came to fully realise we’d won when the players began to celebrate and they starred carting on the parts of the stage for the presentation. It was a really weird feeling to be honest and a bit of a shame that we couldn’t have won the title with at least a draw. But the main thing is, we won it, and I guess there it is kind of appropriate when considering recent results, that the title was confirmed with a Hiroshima loss. They really have stuffed it up. I can’t imagine how bad it feels to be a Sanfrecce fan or player at the moment. Full credit to the numerous Cerezo fans who waited for the presentation and generously congratulated our players. Now the title is won, we can probably forget about individual results, but this game was another Cerezo stinker. It would be nice if we could beat them other than at Todoroki some time. Their bogey team status endures and we should probably try to put this performance behind us with a good finish to the season. We are now certain to end up with less points than last year. It would be nice though if we could preserve or even extend our lead, and I also would like us to outscore our neighbours in Yokohama if that is possible. Our next game is against FC Tokyo, so there’s something at stake there, even if the title is already decided.  Fingers crossed for a strong finish and a couple more wins! Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 7 KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for NOBORIZATO 37')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 27. SUZUKI Yuto (on for ELSINHO 76')
MF 37. SAITO Manabu (on for ABE 76')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

This isn’t sour grapes after a loss, but there weren’t really any good performances in this game. Perhaps it was the tension of the situation, maybe the conditions, maybe we just had an off day. So, in the interests of doing something corny, and not for the first or probably last time, let’s give it to...

THE SUPPORTERS - big turn out, lots of noise and deserve to get something after a very limp performance from the team.


SUGIMOTO (Cerezo) 55' 1-0
IENAGA (Frontale) 90' PEN 1-1
YAMAMURA (Cerezo) 90+4' 2-1


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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