Thursday 10 September 2020

Vs Vissel Kobe (home) 9/9/20 - J League match 15

Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 2 Vissel Kobe

Well, that’s a relief! We really dodged a bullet again in this game and probably would have counted ourselves lucky to come away with a draw, let alone the win we ended up with. Once again, I think the reason behind the dodgy performance is pretty clearly fatigue, particularly at the back. It’s hardly worth me writing this again, but the health of the centre backs is going to either make or break this season. Not sure why we didn’t get anyone in when we could. Not sure how likely Kamiya is to ever play. Not sure why we haven’t called on Kurumaya or Yamamura a bit more. I guess the answers to the last two questions are ‘not very likely’ and ‘because Oniki’s not sure about them’, both of which make the mystery behind the first question a bit more mysterious. In any case, I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities for me to write about this in the future so let’s leave it for the time being. The games keep coming thick and fast so I’m going to do another speedy blog post on this game and give myself plenty of time to rest and recover between posts. Fatigue is an issue for fans as well as players. Which leads nicely onto my first point

So tired... - 

Much like against Nagoya and then in the first of these endless Wednesdays against Kobe, we look knackered. This is exemplified by Taniguchi who has played a ridiculous amount of minutes this season, started this game with an almost calamitous error and kind of continued in the same way for the rest of the match. I’m not going to blame anyone though, as clearly they are being pushed to perform well beyond what would normally be expected. However, once again he needs a rest in the next game. I think Jesiel looked much sharper and fresher so maybe he can play, but please for the sake of his physical and mental well being, give Taniguchi a rest! Also in the close to dead on their feet club are Noborizato (huge improvement in that position when Kurumaya came on I thought), Yamane and to a lesser extent Morita and Kobayashi. Morita has had some great games recently and is continuously getting denied goals (once by the ref when the ball was behind the line, yesterday by a Kobe handball which gave us our first penalty), but in this game looked like he was running out of steam. Kobayashi had a bit of a bad game, probably only hitting the target with his penalty (thankful for that!) but otherwise looking like the Kobayashi of the lean spells in 2019 rather than this year’s ‘come on and immediately score’ Kobayashi. Aside from a couple fo lovely passes and one shot, Ienaga was pretty quiet too. And Mitoma who came on as a second half sub for Hatate who looked to have picked up a potentially bad injury (fingers crossed it’s not, get well soon!), was the Mitoma who occasionally limply starts games rather than the super sub we’ve come to know. He didn’t do much at all in this game to be honest. But like I said above, I’m not looking to blame. Let’s give the rotation thing another good old spin for one or two games and refresh things a bit. Ao should come back after having a few games out. I’d like to see Kurumaya at left back, Diogo at right back and Yamamura and Jesiel in the middle. As for the the other areas of the pitch, we’re not really short of numbers but we should definitely shuffle it a bit I reckon.

Unlucky but maybe not so unlucky Kobe - 

You’ve got to feel for Kobe. Well you would have to feel for them if they weren’t so absurdly financially privileged but yet still messing things up. Apparently on the J League forums the Kobe fans were calling for Mikitani to splash some more cash after the game but you would have thought by now that they’d realise that there’s more to building a good team than constantly buying players. Marinos could probably do well to notice this too. They seem to just buy a replacement for anyone who has a bad run of form and then stick with them till the same thing happens. After getting absolutely smacked by us last week you’d imagine that Kobe would have been up for some revenge. Obviously that scoreline was unlikely to happen again in this game and it did seem that they’d learned some things from last week. Furuhashi seemed to be playing further forward and therefore denied Jesiel the option of charging to the halfway line and tackling him every time the ball came near him. They scored two decent goals (although in the interests of being biased, I’ll add that both came from them breaking through the same side of the defence where two very tired players were playing), had a lot of good chances where we can feel very relived to have got away with not conceding, and perhaps you could say our atrocious finishing was partly down to the quality of their defending. Or perhaps it was more to do with our players tiredness. They didn’t even give us any Iikura or Dankler cock-up chances which is annoying for us but probably refreshing for them. But in a game where we could barely trouble the keeper from open play, they gave us two penalties and two goals. The first was at the other end of the pitch and was a bit of a mystery till I saw the highlights and the defender’s hand clearly diverted the shot. Certainly it took a while for anyone around me to notice that it had been given. The second was right in front of us and clear as day. I think there could have been a case for sending the defender off as it was clearly a pretty nasty tackle. Looking at the replay and seeing the Kobe players protesting that he got the ball is pretty laughable. It’s long gone by the time the defender steps on Damiao’s foot and clatters through him. Kobe looked so happy when they scored their second and went a goal ahead and then to throw it away and end up losing must have been pretty hard for them to take. Especially when for the majority of the game we were pretty rubbish. But when they were ahead they were doing plenty of time-wasting, Furuhashi still can’t help but dive every opportunity he gets and when they went behind they were really putting the boot in on our players so maybe they got what they deserved and we got what we didn’t really deserve. To win a game after playing like this not only damages the opposition’s confidence, it should also boost ours. We really got away with it in this game. I just hope that Oniki doesn’t repeat the mistakes that he made with selections after our last dodgy and tired performance against Nagoya and that he instead responds as he did after the first dodgy and tired game against Kobe which followed. Come on Oniki and spin that rotation wheel!

Changes sometimes changing things -

The subs in this game were a little weird I thought. The first one was enforced with Mitoma replacing Hatate after the injury. Not sure why Manabu was moved to the right though instead of putting Mitoma there as it might have given us something different. Perhaps this limited our options a little and affected Oniki’s decision for the triple change. Sadly there weren’t really any options to change some of the players who were really struggling but to leave Kobayashi on was a bit of a mystery. I think I’ve said it before, (in fact I think I’ve probably said it about 7 times before), but if Kobayashi starts and has a nightmare first half he’s still given plenty of the second half till he’s replaced. If it’s Damiao starting he’s invariably hooked at half time. I felt that Damiao changed the game for us. It’s become a bit of a trope that whenever Damiao scores we always lose or draw and he never gets the chance to be the hero. In this match though, he really turned the game. Admittedly he only scored a penalty rather than a goal from open play. And he also won the penalty after totally fluffing a shot with a fresh air kick. But he also started the move that got our winner. The fact that Miyashiro scored that winner was very welcome. I was pondering on my recent J Talk Podcast appearance as to whether now Miyashiro had scored his first goal he wold be able to push on and really start playing well in the same way Mitoma and Hatate did and it seems he can. His finish was well taken and showed none of the nerves that he looked to have been playing with in early games this year. I’m delighted for him! Don’t take all this praise for Damiao and whinges about Kobayashi in this game too personally though. Their fates have been reversed in plenty of games with Damiao not being able to do anything and then Kobayashi coming on and totally bossing it. Perhaps this is more grist for my starting-striker-doesn’t-do-well mill. They are both crucial players for us and as long as one of them is doing the business to make up for the other’s shortcomings, that’ll be just fine. And they really seem to have a good relationship too. Good on them!

Other business - 

The usual few throwaway comments here. Thorsten Fink seemed to be trying to bring the funk with his shirt and tie paired with white trainers combo. Reminded me of late eighties/early nineties UK weddings when some friends of the the groom’s late teens brother turned up looking for some dancing, some ladies and a good time. Sharp! The rhythmic clap was back in this game! Not sure we should really do it when we’re defending a corner or about to take a penalty though. Perhaps the fine details need a bit of work. And come on Cerezo, throw us a bone. We’re coming dangerously close to messing things up but somehow keep winning and then every game they win too. I can’t believe the same team we whalloped are getting so many good results. Someone give them a game please as they still have a game in hand on us, and as delighted as we are with our start to the season and our good results, as long as they are lingering there behind us, we’re always in danger of a defensive injury and some bad results handing them the lead and possibly the title. I’m trying to not get too carried away about our season so far and the pink mist in our periphery is a good reminder that nothing is won yet. 

Next up Hiroshima at home in the league on Sunday. This will be another challenging one as they’ve been doing alright and they always give us a tough game. Hopefully we’ll rotate and hopefully we’ll win. And hopefully Cerezo will lose. Although as they’re playing Marinos I’d settle for a 0-0 in that game. After that, we’ve got a full week off which to be honest, couldn’t come at a better time. Any break in the schedule is very welcome right now! If we can pick up three points on Sunday that will give us a very pleasant week to rest and recuperate. Fingers crossed. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG 

DF 13. YAMANE Miki 




MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa

MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota 

MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro 



FW 19. SAITO Manabu


GK 27. TANNO Kenta 

DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 66') 

MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for IENAGA 66') 


FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru (on for HATATE 56') 

FW 20. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for SAITO 66') 


My Frontale Man Of The Match

As I’ve said many times above, this was not a vintage performance so not many options. Slightly bizarrely, given that he spent less time on the pitch than anyone else, I’m going to give it to….

LEANDRO DAMIAO - didn’t have much time but didn’t need much time. Won and converted the penalty, and started the move for the winner. No overhead kicks in this game and no spectacular goals, but it was the boost he gave us that meant we won the game, so well done to him!


KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 8' PEN 1-0
FURUHASHI (Kobe) 23' 1-1
FUJIMOTO (Kobe) 59' 1-2
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 83' PEN 2-2
MIYASHIRO (Frontale) 85' 3-2


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