Sunday 20 October 2019

Vs Gamba Osaka (away) 19/10/19 - J League match 29

Gamba Osaka 2 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale

Well, the league title chase was over before this week, but as tends to be the case this season, we got another glimpse of a potential opportunity to get back into it, and then we snuffed out our own chances again, without even having to worry about our opponents’ games. Kashima drew, and once again, so did we, and we did it by our favourite score this season, 2-2 (think this was our fifth 2-2 in the league this year). This time we threw away a lead, but did so after coming back from an early calamitous goal. It really seems that we like to make it difficult for ourselves. I’m not going to dwell too much on this game as we were pretty much out of the title chase before it, and are even more out of it now, but still aggravatingly there is a mathematical chance. Mathematical, but supremely unlikely. And the sooner we all admit this the better. Of course we should be trying to win our remaining games, but please put a stop to things like Oniki saying that the players are not thinking about the Levain cup and are focused on getting our third league title. Let’s quit doing that as it’s a bit embarrassing now, but let’s do our best to disrupt anyone who’s challenging for the title. That’s all we have left in the league now, a desire and ability to spoil someone else’s fun. Anything else is pure fantasy now I think. Perhaps even the ACL spots could be out of reach. Here are a few things we might have learned that are different from the usual things we fail to learn from in our numerous defeats and draws this year.

Return of a ref with a reputation to refute -

It’s been a while since I had a ref rant, and as these rants are horribly repetitive and predictable, I’ll leave it at just saying Ikeuchi was absolutely crap in this game. Much like our recent Iemoto experience where he was made aware of the fact that we do well in games he refs and then he evens things up by giving absolutely everything against us, Ikeuchi, a ref who has a reputation for favouring the away team, did his best to dispel these rumours by giving Gamba pretty much everything. Of course, I’m biased, but I think he got plenty of decisions wrong in this match. Hope we don’t have to encounter him again soon (unless it's in a home game, of course).

A bit of excitement... -

In spite of all of this, it was a fairly enjoyable game. Perhaps, because I've already written off our chances in the league so am less bothered by the result, and partly because there was plenty to get irritated, excited and generally worked up about in this match. We had an insane referee! We had no running track between us and the pitch! We had possession! We had shots! We didn’t really have shots on target though, .... that same old problem is back again. If we could shoot better we’d be running away with the league. But equally, if we had the choice of all the players and managers in the world we probably also would be doing well, so it seems a bit stupid to deal with ifs. Football is a game of small margins and we came off on the wrong side of most of these in this game. Our former Gamba players Noborizato and Ienaga had pretty forgettable games, the former pretty much giving away the first goal, and the latter failing to score our winning goal from a couple of very nice chances. I’m not sure if they were overawed by returning to their former stomping ground or whether that’s just the way things seem to go in our games against Gamba. [This point is fantastically undermined by me discovering that Nobori never played for Gamba. Thanks to Gamba Osaka English Blog for questioning this. You should follow him here. Dunno where I got that idea from and have thought so for years. Leaving it in here to make myself look deservedly stupid]. Damiao finished his goal nicely and contributed plenty to the team. 100% not starting next week, eh? I agreed for once with Oniki’s starting line up. In spite of Ao’s recent national team triumphs, Morita didn’t deserve to get dropped. You could probably say the same about Arai. He’s been solid recently, and whilst I think Sung Ryong is the better keeper, Arai deserves to keep his spot, I guess. The fact that we had no right back on the bench meant that apparently Oniki thought Morita could switch there if required. But he maybe forgot this when he subbed Morita at half time for Ao. This decision could have cost us the match, and I can’t really understand why he did it. Morita had a decent first half. There were definitely worse players on the field. But still, it was Morita who was hooked. I realise this goes against what I normally say about Oniki being a terrible man manager oblivious to people’s feeling, but it did feel like he thought Morita deserved to keep his spot, but Ao deserved to play too, after scoring twice against Brazil this week. Whichever way you look at it, it was a pretty pointless sub, and one that came back to haunt us as we lost numerous players to injury. It might seem harsh to blame one substitution for us not winning the game, but it severely limited our options later in the game and felt pretty pointless at the time. The loss of Nobori to injury, (BOOOOOOOOOOO, BOOOOOOOOOO, said the idiots in the Gamba end as he was treated for a head injury...), meant that we had to switch Ao to right back. Chasing the win Oniki brought on a defensive midfielder, Shimoda for Kengo. Yamamura getting a bit crocked meant that he had to be deployed up front as a big lump as he was lacking the necessary mobility to keep things safe at the back. So, Kurumaya to centre back and Shimoda to left back. Another unique Oniki line up, and not the most effective of teams, but one that was necessary after an apparently unnecessary half time change and a complete lack of confidence in the right backs we have at the club. So, yeah, even when we agree on a starting line up and we don’t lose, I can still find a way to pin it all on Oniki. Although I reckon the ref probably contributed to our demise the most. Him, and the awful defending for the goals. Guess, at least we didn’t lose. But our exertions in this game might cost us dearly in the cup due to some potential injuries.

Not much to be optimistic about -

The idea that we might be able to challenge for the title is absolute fantasy, demonstrated mainly by our recent league form. Ten points from a possible thirty, all of which have been gained in games against teams who currently sit in the bottom eight, (apart from today’s opponents, who were probably there before the game, but not after). Moreover, the only two wins came against the teams in last and third last places. It’s clearly not good enough, and the general poor quality of the league is the only thing that is keeping us anything like in touch this year. We’ve thrown way too many games away through poor performances, insane player selections and generally clueless tactics. Not much to give us confidence going into the season's most important game next weekend, the Levain Cup Final. And we’ll be going into that with probably a load of injuries. This game didn’t seem particularly dirty, but we ended up with a lot of crocked players. By the final whistle we’d lost Nobori to injury, after he clashed heads with Kurata whilst he scored their equaliser. Yamamura, Hasegawa and Arai looked a bit dodgy at the end of the game and I wouldn’t bet on them starting next week now. Thanks a lot Patric for leaving a leg in with a challenge on Arai and then having the cheek to consider appealing for a penalty. I know he’s an ex Frontale player and generally seems to be quite a nice guy, but he came out of that pretty badly and I think has probably lost a bit of sympathy from any Frontale fans who do the generous thing of applauding past players. Even though the pitch was awful and Gamba had 11 men behind the ball for most of the game, we still managed to make chances, but again we failed to put them away. We got what we deserved, but in the whole scheme of things, this game was pretty pointless. We’re down to 6th now. Our priorities must be pretty clear now! Oh, and Kurumaya and Ienaga picking up yellow cards apparently means that they'll both be banned for the next league game...

Next up the Levain Cup final, and in a way, I’d say it’s perhaps make or break for Oniki. (Sure it won't be though...). Lose it, and this season is a big steaming turd and he should probably go. Win it, and I’ll have to hope someone comes in and poaches him (Kashima, come on, you know you want to, eh?). Another title, albeit the 100% least desirable of all the titles according to most people, means that we have a layer of Levain crackers covering the pile of poo that this year’s efforts have been. Of course I want to win the Levain, but we stared the season with four options, really messed up the ACL and the Emperors Cup and hung around for a bit in the league before totally imploding over the summer. Let’s also not forget that we came into the Levain Cup at the quarter final stage, have only played two teams over two legs and have only won half of the games we’ve played. It’s not exactly a story that will inspire generations to come. Anyway, after that, some league game that’s pretty pointless now. Actually totally pointless. Would still be nice to give some of the title contenders a right pasting though, wouldn’t it?


GK 21. ARAI Shota
DF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (Yellow card 21')
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (Yellow card 21')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto (on for NAKAMURA 78')
MF 25. TANAKA Ao (on for MORITA 46')
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for NOBORIZATO 69')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Not many stood out in this game and by the end, everything was so confused that who knows what was going on. As I don’t think he’s had a fair crack of the whip this year but has done well when called on, I’ll give it to....

LEANDRO DAMIAO - scored a goal, hit the post (I think... it was at the other end of the pitch), did lots of important work up front that always seems to go unnoticed, played with passion and tried one overhead kick shot and one overhead kick pass. This guy really loves an overhead! Bravo! Just a shame that whenever he scores we don’t seem to win so he never gets a chance to be the match winning hero.


WATANABE (Gamba) 5' 1-0
OSHIMA (Frontale) 51' 1-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 63' 1-2
KURATA (Gamba) 65' 2-2 


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