Welcome to a Levain Cup fever blog post! Everyone loves the Levain Cup! Biscuits! Rotation! Rotating biscuits! Actually the third one is just a wonderful dream. I have to say though, I actually do enjoy the Levain Cup for the reasons I mentioned above and would enjoy it even more if rotating biscuits existed. Already I’m going down a rabbit hole here on a blog post that I hoped I could knock out quite quickly. Certainly at 3-0 up and cruising it looked like there wouldn’t be that much to say. Conceding twice to set up a nervy finish perhaps warrants more discussion but to be honest the games are coming so fast that this will still be pretty brief I think. In order to push towards that aim I’m going to go back to those bullet points I used to do. And as I only watched this on the internet, I’m not going to go into too much detail and specifics. I’m sure you’d expect nothing else.
- This was fun! Oniki rotated a fair bit. Yamamura in for Taniguchi, Kurumaya playing 90 minutes for Nobori. Damiao, Hatate and Mitoma all starting up front and a first appearance for Tanno in goal. The midfield was exactly as predicted and the bench featured the usual suspects, presumably primed and ready in case of emergency. Slightly bizarrely, Oniki pulled the emergency cord at half time and brought on Kobayashi and Oshima. I have to say, and I know you won’t be surprised to hear me say this, that Damiao can feel pretty hard done by this I think. Unless he’s being saved for a start at the weekend against Oita. I thought Damiao did a great job of the dirty work of being a forward. He didn’t really get any chances but it wasn’t like that was only happening to him. He seemed to spend a lot of time of the left wing setting up other players. I hope he gets another goal soon. I think he really deserves it. Kobayashi lacked his usual spark off the bench. I think one of his few contributions was the blocked shot that fell for Oshima to put away shortly after both of them had come on. The curse of the central striker continues. Although of course, I’m ignoring all of those occasions where he’s scored a couple of goals from the bench. So my point is pretty baseless really. But it’s clear that in this new formation, the guy up front in the middle does seem to be struggling, particularly in the first half.
- A first start for Tanno and I think he can feel gutted that he ended up conceding twice as he’d had a decent game. The end of the match was a bit nuts though and we couldn’t really get out of our half. Perhaps the numerous subs didn’t help but I suppose we’ve got to give some credit to Kashima though. Tanno seems to favour kicking the ball long rather than playing it short, maybe a bit like Arai. He seemed pretty confident in taking the ball in the air and dealing with crosses and corners. Encouraging I thought. A first goal for Hatate, (with a lovely assist from Mitoma), and boy was he pleased about it. I’m pleased too as I think he’s been in Mitoma’s shadow a little and needed a little confidence boost to push him on to the next level. Hopefully we’ll see that next level soon. He now has a song so I’ll add that to the songs post soon. Miyashiro when he came on seemed desperate to join the first goal club but couldn’t quite make it. Hopefully he’ll stop worrying about not having scored yet as he’s spent much less time on the pitch than his two youngster teammates. Be patient Taisei, it will come! And finally, it was Morita’s first game as captain. Good on him!
Other stuff all lumped together
- We weren’t great in this game and neither were Kashima until the last 20 minutes or so. The ball seemed to spend a lot of time bouncing around the middle of the pitch from team to team. No-one seemed to be able to pass very well again, which is a bit worrying but hey, let’s blame the grass again. The collapse at the end was a little worrying, but by the end of the match there were a lot of players playing alongside each other for the first time this year so we can excuse them for some mediocrity. I’m not 100% sure we needed to make all of those substitutions when we did and I think we’re lucky that none of them came back to bite us with a starter getting injured or something like that. But all of these new combinations are useful going forward and hopefully we won’t look as disjointed next time. I kind of like the fact that we are now not afraid to hoof the ball clear if we are under pressure. I wonder if we should practice hoofing it a bit further though as more often than not we just gave it back to Kashima around the centre circle. Oh, and one final comment for Kashima’s Endo. Your team now has an offside goal allowed so you can now stop moaning about Taniguchi’s one in the last game. People talk about things evening themselves out over the course of a season but this time it was surprisingly specifically even and surprisingly quick.
So this win leaves us with six points at the top of the group, playing the second placed team Nagoya next, so basically we will progress with a draw. We could even progress with a defeat as one second placed team goes through too. Not sure how they’ll work it out given that Matsumoto are now not playing in the competition and therefore one group has only three teams. That game is away in Nagoya next Wednesday so it’s not long that we’ll have to wait to find our what happens. And in the league, next up Oita at home on Saturday. Maybe the starting line up in that game will give us some more understanding of the substitutions in this game. Hopefully we’ll score three again but hopefully we won’t concede twice. Fingers crossed! Go Frontale!
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
GK 24. ANDO Shunsuke
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for SHIMODA 46')
MF 25. TANAKA Ao (on for WAKIZAKA 60')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Tricky. I was going to give this to Yamamura or Tanno as they were thrown in at the deep end and acquitted themselves pretty well. But then we conceded twice and whilst I don’t hold them responsible it seems a bit weird to give them MOTM. Kurumaya did a pretty good job I thought. Hatate got his first goal and Mitoma scored and assisted again. But it was all a bit scrappy to be honest and no one really stood out so I’ll just leave it this time, I think.
MITOMA (Frontale) 43' 0-1
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