Yokohama F Marinos 1 - 3 Kawasaki Frontale
(First, if you’re a Marinos fan reading this, have a think about why you’re bothering, as clearly what I write will probably annoy you and I think in this day and age we could all do with being a bit less angry. When you hammered us at our place at the end of last season I did my best to stay away from all social media and mentions of the game for the sake of my own sanity. I’m not setting out to deliberately irritate but please excuse me for enjoying this game and result quite a lot. You could probably even take it as a compliment if you want).
So, here we go again with what will probably be another blog post that irritates readers who are fans of opposition clubs. But once again, this was a great game and extremely enjoyable! How long we can keep that going, who knows, but hopefully we can roll this momentum on a bit longer before we hit another bump in the road… hopefully! As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ve been kind of running out of things to say in these posts. Certainly the packed schedule of games does’t help. Likewise, not being able to actually attend at least half of them means that I have very little to say that anybody watching on DAZN couldn’t say themselves. And also, things have been going pretty well, haven’t they? And good performances mean less moaning and consequently less ideas regarding things to write. This game against perhaps our most intense recent rivals went some way towards making up for our totally awful performance at home against them towards the end of last season. But I feel we still owe them something as it’s never nice to see loads of people trumpeting how good your neighbours are. Clearly, that’s not been a problem so far this year and speaking as a Frontale fan, long may that continue! So, yeah. here are a few little bullet points on what was a very welcome result.
Sloppiest of sloppy starts -
It’s fair to say that we were not hoping to start this crucial game by conceding in the second minute, but that’s exactly what we did. With our first choice central defenders in place and apparently fit, healthy and not tired it came as something of a shock to see Marinos score quite so easily. The amount of space given to Pitbull (the ‘rapper’) lookalike and small man syndrome sufferer Marcos Junior was shocking. Until the goal, (so basically in the first minute and a half of the game…), we looked like we were going to make a good start, playing the ball around confidently and looking as threatening as it is possible to in the limited time. This was all knocked out of us by conceding a really weak goal and it took some time to get going again. Thankfully, this was probably the last real threat that Marinos managed to create in the game. I can’t remember Sung-Ryong really having to make any challenging saves and to be honest I was really surprised to see that they’d had eleven shots. Normally you’d expect them to have a bit more bite about their attack but perhaps it was due to us defending well, or due to them having an off day, (or as I saw some Marinos fans suggesting, because of the rain), that they really looked utterly toothless. Very satisfying! At the other end of the pitch, they were a total mess and it was a delight to see Mitoma get behind their right back time after time after time. However it did take us a long time to take advantage of their generosity and most of the first half was taken up by us creating and failing to take chances, completely due to our own failures. I know the Marinos footballing philosophy is something along the lines of attack attack attack and score more than they concede, but in this game they were failing handsomely at both ends. In a way, it’s even more enjoyable that they scored so early and then just totally went to pieces as the joy and optimism that was behind that same old goal celebration they do every time looked a bit stupid at the end of the game.
Showing mercy and saving energy -
This was a strange game in a way as I felt we really could have totally smashed them if we were more bothered. I don’t know if it was a tactic, but in the first half for some reason we seemed to not be pressing as much as we have been this season. It was almost as if we were conserving energy and saving it for our usual second half blitz. Perhaps this is the way we should look at starting line ups too now. That the starting players are sent out to soften up the opposition and also lull them into a false sense of security, making way for the subs to do the damage. Our first half was certainly not as good as our second in this game and this has been the case on quite a few occasions this year. The double substitution at half time coincided with what was either a tactical change or a reminder that we should be pressing a pretty dodgy defence a lot. Press we did and we scored two goals really quickly and the game was pretty much over. After this we could have had more goals but we almost looked like we were conserving energy. I wonder if we would have stepped things up a gear had they got one back. Certainly the withdrawal of Jesiel who was apparently feeling a twinge of something was probably good reason to not be quite so gung-ho and be happy with what we had, but it was truly a delight to see super smiley Manabu on against his old team and would have been amazing if he had been able to score. Perhaps the closest we came to extending our lead was when the Marinos keeper inexplicably decided to give one of his defenders some more work to do when he slice-chipped the ball beautifully towards his own empty net from the edge of the box. Sadly the defender managed to clear the ball off the line but it would have been nice to see it go in. According to the stats I’ve seen we only had three shots on target and we scored three times which shows that we possibly weren’t at our best, but the Marinos defence was at its usual shaky level. I can’t be the only one wishing that we’d absolutely whalloped them in this game, but I think 3-1 is sign enough that we were on top and if us not whalloping them means that we’re saving some energy and goals for upcoming games that’s great by me.
I 100% acknowledge that I look at Frontale games purely from a Frontale perspective. And I defend every fan’s right to see the games their team is involved in with the necessary blinkered view that being a fan gives. But it was a bit weird to see Marinos fans online saying that they lost because of the rain. Clearly they hadn’t noticed their shocking defending and toothless attacking before the deluge. Likewise, it was pretty weird to hear Postecoglou say that he’s not bothered about the 17 point difference between the two teams after the game. I’ve heard he doesn’t really like answering interview questions but saying points aren’t important just makes him look a bit confused. I’m not sure how he’d prefer to rank the teams and award the title but I imagine there was a bit of sour grapes on seeing his team beaten comfortably in their own stadium. I’d say they’ve got a lot of work to do though and however well the end of last season went for them, they only secured the title on the final day of the season and now look likely that they won’t be defending it. Pitbull also made the comment that their schedule this year is very different from last year, which can also be said about every J League team. We’ve played the same amount of games as them so far and have had significantly more away trips. But credit to the bald one, he did seem to at least acknowledge that we were the better team. Perhaps I was a bit wrong about his small man syndrome tendencies.
The Iemoto effect -
Oh Iemoto… what has happened to you? I’ve posted about this before but I feel it needs to be said again. The worst thing we ever did, and by we I am referring to some of our fans and certainly not myself, was applaud Iemoto before the start of FC Tokyo away the year before last. Until that point we had a good record with games with him in charge and there was a feeling that we generally played well in games he officiated. Clearly when a referee hears any kind of appreciation from a set of fans they imagine they must be doing something very wrong and since that applause I’d say he’s given us almost nothing. It was absolutely absurd that only one player was booked in this game and it was Kurumaya. Pitbull seems to always tackle by sliding in with two feet off the ground. Last week he totally missed the payer and still gave away a free kick. In this game he firmly connected with, (I think), Taniguchi and didn’t even get a card. Or perhaps that was a different dodgy foul I am thinking of as there were plenty from Marinos players and for them to finish the game with no cards is insane. Add to this the utterly hopeless linesman on the near side of the pitch and you’ve got an officiation disaster on your hands. I believe we had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside (although I haven’t checked. I prefer to go with what I remember than run the risk of being proved wrong). Ref fatigue is perhaps to blame, but I really hope we don’t have many more games with Iemoto in charge. Unless he finally thinks that he’s done enough balancing of fans feelings. If only we were allowed to boo then maybe we could give him a horrendous reception and move a little closer to him actually giving a balanced performance.
So there we go, a nice result against opponents we are not very fond of and another win. The scoreline perhaps hides the fact that we were a bit wasteful in front of goal, but with this in mind, to win by two goals is a very welcome thing. We still have a goal difference that is higher than the second highest scoring team’s total of goals scored. But somehow Cerezo still seem to be keeping in touch with us. Clearly there is still a long way to go, but if we can keep these results coming hopefully we can increase the gap slightly. Next up is Kobe, for the third Wednesday in a row, but thankfully this time at home. The first game was a disaster for us and showed that we were very tired. The second was a joy and showed that resting some players had done us good. Hopefully we’ll do well again in this game, but you can be sure that they’ll be up for some revenge after the pummeling we gave the last week in the Levain Cup. But unless we beat them in the league, all of these good results we’ve had so far in the league might start to look a bit pointless. We beat Marinos at their place but if we follow it up with a loss to Kobe at home we will only have bragging rights to hang on to rather than a decent gap at the top. I wonder if we should try a bit or rotation again. Perhaps Jesiel might not be able to play anyway and we may have no choice. I wouldn’t mind seeing Yamamura and Kurumaya back in though. But as long as the decent results keep coming I’m not going to doubt anything Sir Toru of Oniki does. After that we’re home again at the weekend to Sanfrecce Hiroshima which could be another tricky game. But maybe they all are really, and at least we don’t have to play Sagan Tosu (best defence in J1), till much later in the season. Go Frontale!
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
SubsGK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for JESIEL 55')
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 25. TANAKA Ao (on for OSHIMA 89')
Do you know what, I can’t really remember anyone standing out particularly. But given that I’m using a particular unflattering photo of him for this post and the fact that he scored twice again, let’s give it to…
MITOMA Kaoru - sorry about the photo. Nice goals!
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