Monday 29 November 2021

Vs Gamba Osaka (home) 27/11/21 J League match 37

Kawasaki Frontale 4 - 1 Gamba Osaka

I’ve left this way too late to start writing but it was a bit of a busy weekend. I normally have trouble recalling our matches only a few hours after so I’m going to be really reaching this time given that it’d been a few days. But I’ll give it a go anyway. With the end of the season fast approaching and the title safely in the bag a few weeks ago you could think that there wasn’t much to play for in this game. In a way this is true as our position won’t change and Gamba’s isn’t going to change in any meaningful way either. But given that our neighbours and rivals are our closest challengers and we face them next week in our final game, we probably want to attempt to squash any positivity that they might be able to wring out from this year. So, we dearly want to win next weekend, we dearly want to score the most goals in the league and we dearly want our striker to finish with the Golden Boot. Naturally, if the first one of these things happens it will significantly help us with the second one. Right now YFM are one goal ahead of us with us having conceded seven less than them. The points difference seems quite surprising when you consider how close the goal differences are. Admittedly YFM’s was helped quite a lot by FC Tokyo giving them eight a few weeks ago. Hopefully we won’t be as generous next weekend. The golden boot race is perfectly poised with one game to go with Damiao and Daizen Maeda both on 22 goals. Damiao does have six more assists though and has played one game fewer I believe. So in spite of there not being anything to play for or much at stake, there actually is a lot to play for and lots (of bragging rights) at stake. But anyway this isn’t supposed to be a match preview so let’s briefly talk a bit about what I can remember about the game.
Every time we play an Osaka team the same thing happens. Well, maybe. Our 4-1 win against Cerezo last weekend was followed up with this 4-1 win against Gamba. The scoreline wasn’t the only similarity. The score flattered us a bit in both games. We were surprisingly efficient at taking our chances in both games, and the opposition weren’t but did seem quite threatening for periods of the game. In both games we made a quick start to the scoring with Damiao getting off the mark early, and consequently catching up in the golden boot race. This time it was with his second favourite kind of finish. There has been a distinct lack of overheads recently but the crossed leg back heel finishes keep coming! In this game we kept the scoring going though, doubling the lead two minutes later with a Hatate header that undoubtedly would have been easier to hit with any part of his body rather than his head. Perhaps he gets a bonus for headed goals. It was a bit weird, as we hadn’t had the best of starts but then found ourselves two up in nine minutes. I felt like this irritated Gamba into some quite physical play and we got kicked around quite a lot with the usual inaction from another useless ref. More on him later. If this was their tactic it worked as they pulled a goal back which was apparently a pretty good one, but which I missed as I was distracted, probably by a passing bird or cloud, or someone else’s food or drink. I’m still thinking about what the lady in front of me was eating so it probably was the latter. After the Gamba goal the game was pretty open, and pretty scrappy. Our players seemed very aware of Damiao’s golden boot challenge and were looking to set him up quite a lot I felt. Which was good as Maeda had scored for YFM, taking the golden boot top spot for himself again. This kind of slightly-lacking-in-quality stalemate continued for most of the match to be honest. It’s telling that we didn’t get our first corner until the 94th minute. Our attacking clearly wasn’t the sharpest it’s been this year. At times it felt like Gamba were time wasting. Which is a bit weird as they were losing but maybe this was another manifestation of the whole end of the year feeling, the last day of school when you don’t actually want to get much done. Gamba had quite a few good opportunities in the second half and could have easily drawn level before we finally sprung into life again and got a couple more goals late on. It was nowhere near a dominant performance as the stats might suggest. I don’t even remember feeling that we had that much possession, although the stats say we had 61%. Thankfully Damiao got another goal to go back to joint first and set up a lovely final day strikers battle. It was similar to his first (weirdly his two goals against Cerezo were quite similar to each other too), and once again Yamane was the provider. And then fan favourite Kurumaya headed home with the final kick of the… erm…header of the match, the final kick of the match being our first corner. All quite fun! And once again drinks were consumed. 

Suppose I should mention some other points of possible interest. This was the first game we’ve been able to fill the entirety of our main stand. Everyone in that stand (which included us on this occasion), was required to show proof of vaccination before the game or a negative COVID test and then got a pink wristband in return. Basically this meant that the entrance process was slightly prolonged being split into two stage but it was of negligible discomfort. It probably also had the benefit of making people come to the ground slightly earlier to get that part out of the way and then have more time to spend money on eating, drinking, and purchasing in FronPark. It was great to see some pre-match atmosphere outside the ground again and although it will almost certainly prove to be a false dawn, it did feel like one more step back to normality and the sunshine helped with the positive thinking. The other main pre-game excitement was the unveiling of the 2022 kit. As seems to usually be the case with these announcements, I found the new design slightly underwhelming. Personally speaking, I don’t really like the neck, and am not sure about the tile motif (a visual pun on or allusion to the fact that we are called FUROntale (furo meaning bath in Japanese) with an added sprinkle of it being our 26th year as a team (2 = Fu, 6 = Ro), which all equals a football shirt designed to look like bathroom tiles. Maybe it will grow on me. I have to say that I am quite a fan of this year’s shirt though, and I do tend to go with a LIKE/DON’T LIKE MUCH pattern with these things. As the match was the annual Rikuzentakata game we were visited by the greatest mascot in football Kizuru from Iwate Grulla Morioka. After visiting Rikuzentakata earlier this year, the significance of the connection between Frontale and the town was slightly emotionally heightened for me. I forgot to bring my Grulla Kizuru towel though, which doubles down on how great their mascot is by using such an oblique design that the towel becomes truly a piece of modern art. Fantastic stuff. Being in the main stand we got to see Fronta’s player mimes, which he does as the team is announced and could appreciate his one for Chinen for the first time. It too is a work of art, with Fronta miming scoring a goal and then falling to the floor and raising a cramp riddled leg in apparent agony. Very well observed and made me LOL. On a Gamba note, it seems mean to laugh at an opposition player when we’ve been lucky in the game, but I did enjoy the Gamba left winger at one point doing close to double figures stepovers left and right and then tripping over the ball and losing it. Oh and of course we should mention the ref Okabe. A few years ago he made a horrific blunder and was relegated to the lower leagues as punishment. He’s been back a little while now but seems like he’s determinedly meandering his way towards his next major cock up and relegation. I can’t remember anything significantly bad but it did seem like he had consumed some hallucinogens before the match and was marveling at the fast moving trippy shapes around him whilst occasionally blowing his whistle in time with the trance music pumping in his head and waving his arms in a random direction. Loving it. Well he was anyway. I found his officiating quite annoying, but as we won 4-1, I’m not going to dwell on it. 

Next up, the league campaign closer against our old enemies YFM, who used to laugh and look down on us, but recently have found a whole new reason to dislike us. Congratulations to them on sealing their second place in the league at the weekend with a magnificent game of 43% possession and four shots on target. Now that’s entertainment! And that’s possibly a jinx on us at the weekend…I’m pretty sure we all know what the team will be as Oniki is not even blinking with his selections recently. After that, the league will be done but we still have a home Emperor’s Cup semi-final against Oita. Plenty to still play for in both of those games. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for IENAGA 78')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for MARCINHO 62')
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for WAKIZAKA 78')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for HATATE 78')
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for TACHIBANADA 83')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Honestly, I had a bit of trouble thinking of a good candidate for this on the day and failed to come up with an answer so there’s no way I can do it with the game so far in the past now. Take this as a freebie and give it to…

WHOEVER YOU FANCY - had a great game… playing football… well done.


LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 7' 1-0
HATATE (Frontale) 9' 2-0
USAMI (Gamba) 17' 2-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 85' 3-1
KURUMAYA (Frontale) 90+4' 4-1


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