Thursday 4 November 2021

Vs Urawa Reds (home) 3/11/21 J League match 34

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Urawa Reds 

Well that happened a bit quicker than we might have been expecting. I was hoping that we would be able to celebrate winning a fourth title in five years this weekend away at Sagan Tosu, but YFM and Gamba had other ideas. Definitely it’s better for lots of people to win the title at a home game, but ever the elitist, I was hoping we’d do it at my favourite away game. Not saying I’d rather we waited till then though. Even though we have a massive points lead over YFM and are going at a similar pace to last season as far as points per game goes, things certainly haven’t been feeling massively comfortable, particularly when we had a mid season meltdown. If YFM had beaten Gamba the gap would have still been pretty big, given that we conceded another late goal against Urawa, but perhaps some doubts would have started setting in. So definitely better to get it done at the first time of asking instead of having an away at Oita kind of disappointment as we did in 2020. And now we can all just enjoy the various types of alcohol on offer at the Ekimae stadium and not have to worry about the game too much. Perhaps in a somewhat similar way to our first league title, I spent most of the second half checking the score in a different game rather than actually paying attention to what was going on in front of me. So the details in this post will be vague and the actual information lacking once again. I’m sure you’d expect nothing less from me. We’ll do this with a brief paragraph about what I can remember about the game, one on the title, a big dump of photos and then move on to Saga.

Like I said above, I can’t remember much about the match. Not saying it was a boring match, what with there being 30 shots shared pretty equally between the two teams. Only seven of them were on target though so perhaps that tells a different story. And both goals were pretty scrappy affairs. This certainly felt more like one of our late season ‘get the job done’ performances. In recent weeks we’ve managed to generally get in to a nice habit of winning without having to dazzle. It certainly feels quite different from how we started the season, but maybe my mind is playing tricks on me. We had a bit more possession than Urawa but once again for the most part this was pretty useless possession. The only decent chances I can really remember were a couple at the end of the match, one for Kobayashi and one for Oshima, where it seemed like the players thought we needed a win and were really going for it. A draw was probably a fair result though and it probably suited both teams in the end as it still keeps Urawa’s ACL hopes alive. The highlight for me in this game was probably Marcinho, who now seems to be adding a lot of goalkeeper and defender hassling pressing to his game. Him and Damiao were really giving the Urawa backline some headaches and we won the ball back a lot from wayward hoofs (hooves?…) out of defence. But we didn’t turn them into decent chances. Urawa look like they might be a team to reckon with next year but are not quite there yet. Plenty of times a player, and it was often Koizumi, would do a lovely turn and get away from us only to immediately lose the ball with a wayward pass. I know they really want to get into the ACL, as evidenced by the big ASIA display from their fans before the game (I guess this is what it meant, rather than being the third to last one of a series of tifos that spell out their stadiums address. The next two will be THE EARTH and THE UNIVERSE). One of their other tifos (is this the right word? It seems like I’m going with it anyway), was slightly ruined by another flag that was getting in the way and rendered their club name UBAWA to those whose eyesight is not the sharpest and were at the right angle.
Apparently they picked up their rubbish on the way out of the stadium too. I would say that this is slightly undermined by the fact that Frontale fans take their own rubbish with them rather than just relying on the nicer element of their fanbase to come and pick up what the meatheads have thrown on the floor and left. Of course you knew I wasn’t going to be able to resist a bit of Urawa baiting after wafting some faint praise their way. Oh and of course, like Kashima, they were honour bound to break their silence when it came to us playing our intro song on the PA. They started up just as the Kawasaki City song started and stopped pretty much afterwards. Once again, quite childish and I’m not sure what purpose it is supposed to achieve other than vaguely irritating the opposition fans. I’m sure the players don’t care. Likewise, the out of time random drumming with potentially the intention of putting us off as we attack was quite amusing. It would be funny to imagine that a professional footballer running towards goal would find themselves distracted by the arrthymic nature of the opposition fans percussion. ‘I was going to score, but can’t possibly concentrate with that out of time banging going on! Damn!’

So we did it. Four titles in five years which to be honest now makes the total disaster of a season a couple of years ago feel even more like a totally wasted opportunity. Many people thought that we have had it sewn up for a long time but it didn’t feel completely comfortable. Whether the departure of Postecoglou made any difference we’ll never know. Certainly Marinos fans would say so, judging by the recent increasing popularity of the #muscatout hashtag. I think that the former manager’s lovers do seem to forget that even with him at the wheel (the ship’s wheel... does that metaphor still work? Maybe..), they did go through some dodgy spells. It seems that it is almost blasphemy to say that he is anything other than the saviour of all football in the world ever so I’m sure plenty of people will disagree. Nice 0-0 draw with Livingstone for Celtic in their last match. I would have thought being at a club with massive spending power compared to all but one of the other teams in the league (who happen to be ahead of them in the league table, so basically they are bottom of a two team league), would have suited his style of buying a new player every time something doesn’t go his way. This is fast turning into a YFM bashing section rather than a Frontale title celebration section. I’m guessing that YFM fans probably won’t read this in much the same way that I didn’t search out blog posts written about them winning the league in 2019. If they are though, they might well interpret all this as an expression of relief after worrying about them catching up with us. They are free to do so if they want. But, I dunno, I don’t really buy the fact that Muscat has whistled the living daylights out of their wonderful team that was built by ‘the boss’ (not Bruce Springsteen on this occasion), but I might start using the #muscatin hashtag just in case. Hatate seemed quite emotional on winning the title which some have interpreted as a sign of his impending departure. It wouldn’t be a massive surprise I guess. Equally, I wonder if Tachibanada and Wakizaka have been attracting some attention. They haven’t been playing for the national team much though so perhaps that keeps them under the radar. Hopefully though we have some more players coming through to replace anyone who leaves. And to be honest there are plenty who have been completely absent recently anyway who’d probably like to have a go. Whether we will see Hasegawa again in a Frontale shirt, I’m not sure. It seems that Oniki doesn’t rate him anymore and it’s sad but probably fair enough as he has never quite been able to recapture the form he was in at the start of last season before he got injured. Of course, it’s difficult to think about what might happen next season without knowing who will be going and who will be staying. I think we’d all love to win the league again, do the three-peat and move one league title ahead of YFM. We also have unfinished business in the ACL. Well, actually that’s not true. It was once again finished business much quicker than we might have hoped. But more about that in a season round up post coming after we’re all done. We still have four games left and a possible points total of 97 to chase. And it would be nice to score the most and concede the least too if we’re being greedy. Oniki certainly likes to go for these kind of targets so I wouldn’t be surprised if we still don’t see much rotation for the rest of the season. Oh, and of course, there’s the Emperor’s Cup semi-final against Oita too. I imagine quite a few clubs in the race for the ACL would quite like to see us win the Emperor’s Cup now to give an extra spot to the league. At least that’s how I think it works. Anyway, let’s wrap this up.

Next up, as I said above, Sagan Tosu away on Sunday. Then a couple of weeks off for us, (but not for Taniguchi, Hatate and Yamane who’ve been picked for the national team), before we make the trip away to Cerezo in the league. It’s a new stadium to tick off and also the first time we’ve been allowed to go to an away game in Kansai for a long time! Looking forward to it. Well done to all the players and (keep) Go(ing) Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 75')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for MARCINHO 75')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for TACHIBANADA 90+1')
FW 19. TONO Daiya
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for WAKIZAKA 86')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

I really want to go maximum troll and give this to Kevin Muscat for his overall contributions this season but deep down I don’t think he deserves it by himself so maybe it could go to the whole YFM team for shitting the bed at enjoyably regular intervals. Some would also say that maybe we should give it to Gamba Osaka for wrapping the league up for us. Both would be fun to do but instead I’ll do the usual end of season cop out that was also done in the stadium and give it to…

THE WHOLE SQUAD - nice work fellers! Six more wins and loads more goals scored and few conceded would be a lovely way to finish of 2021, wouldn’t it?
JESIEL (Frontale) 33' 1-0 
SAKAI (Urawa) 89' 1-1


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