Tuesday 26 April 2022

Vs Johor DT 24/4/22 ACL Group stage match 4


Johor DT 0 - 5 Kawasaki Frontale

Finally, finally, finally… perhaps we’ve got our season going properly. This sounds like a crazy thing to say with us currently sitting top of the J League, but I think anyone who’s been watching our games closely would agree that so far we have been very lucky to only lose twice and equally lucky that we’ve somehow managed to win six times in the league. Since Oniki rejigged our tactics after Cerezo hammered us it has looked like every game was probably going to finish 0-0. As I said in previous posts, I think the Cerezo game was a bit of a freak result where one player’s bad day really skewed the result. It seems that after our first game against Johor when we only had six shots in the whole game and which unsurprisingly finished 0-0, the double defensive midfield has now been abandoned. Now we’re back to having Tachibanada only in that position and we are able to attack a bit more. It certainly made a big difference when it came to both the result and actually enjoying this game. Somewhat amusingly though, we only had nine shots in the this game, so not that many more. But on this occasion we at least made their keeper do something. Of course, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and one decent result in a game that Oniki said we had to win (which in itself is interesting, as maybe he hadn’t actually considered us trying to win in the previous games…) is all very well and good but could all count for nothing if we mess up the next game against Ulsan. A loss in that game would probably see us back into third place in the group and requiring a draw between Johor and Ulsan in the final game with us racking up as many goals as possible to try and win the group on goal difference. I wonder if Oniki will play it safe and go back to the double defensive midfield and look for a draw. That would be a risk though as a Johor win against Ulsan in the final match would leave us second and with the games against the bottom teams in the group being discounted when it comes to deciding the best second place finishers, three draws and one win might not be enough. I dunno. This is all speculation depending on lots of other things happening anyway. So maybe I should just get on with writing about this game and worry about everything else when we come to it. After I apparently was entitled and arrogant about us in my last blog post (must have been all the times I said we were awful, right?), I’d better tread carefully in this post. I’m tempted to go with the old style random bullet points but that’s only because I want to use the heading ‘Return of the Wak’ but that all seems like a bit too much work for a post on a game I watched on TV, so I’ll just bang out the same old rubbish I normally do without any structure at all.

So, yeah, we played pretty well in this game. It was the first time I’ve seen us moving the ball consistently in a dangerous way this year and it was very welcome. We started with what some might consider the second choice players, but given how grindingly dull our first choice eleven have been playing recently I’d instead like to interpret the changes as Oniki finally doing something a bit different. The unused paragraph heading above refers to, if you hadn’t realised, the revitalisation of Wakizaka, who perhaps has finally got over the pressure of the number 14 shirt. His free kick goal was wonderful but maybe his pass for the goal afterwards was even better. We know he’s a great player, so I’m pleased he’s finally able to show us that this year. Also we had the return of the old Yamane too, who seemed a lot more bothered than he has been recently and put in a couple of lovely assists. And Chanathip did great too. Recently he’s looked a bit sad, as if maybe things weren’t going how he might have expected them to be, or that he was finding it a bit difficult to settle in. I think if he does feel like that he should stop being so hard on himself as I thought he was starting to play really well just before he got his one match ban. Oniki’s tactical change scuppered his progress after that somewhat, but now hopefully that has been abandoned and I hope Chana can start smiling a bit more. His assist for Marcinho’s goal was wonderful and his own goal was nice too. I hope he doesn’t get down on himself when something doesn’t go right and instead give himself a pat on the back for the good things he’s been doing. If he continues to improve he’ll be an amazing signing I think. I should probably also praise Kobayashi here too. He’s spent a lot of time on the bench and even when he’s been on the pitch he’s been out on the right. In this game he showed what we know he can do in the middle and his side footed volleyed finish was lovely. I guess we’re unfortunate in that our formation always seems to only have one central striker and we now have Kobayashi. Chinen and Damiao all vying for the same spot. But if all of them start scoring, that’s probably a great dilemma to have. But let’s not be too positive eh? Apparently Johor put out a second string team according to some on Twitter. This suggests that they weren’t too impressed with or worried about how we played last time and if that’s the case I can definitely second that emotion. It seems a bit of a weird thing to do though, considering that their next game is against Guangzhou. I guess with them already having beaten Ulsan once and drawn with us once they have a decent chance of being able to go through as a best second place finisher. There are a hell of a lot of variables involved still though so it seems like a dangerous game to play. Of course everything will be a lot clearer after the next round of games so I’ll stop speculating here and instead get on with making some stupid comments. Oniki’s dance after one of Kobayashi’s goals was pretty fun to watch. I’ve tried to capture it in a screen grab, but it in no way does it justice. Likewise I think it was the first time I’ve seen Marcinho boogie after scoring but maybe when I’m at the match I don’t really notice what he does after scoring. He was dancing in the rain in a video the club posted online recently so perhaps it’s become part of our training routine now. If that’s the case and it’s improved morale and performances, long may that continue! Oh, and finally, the ref once again blew up early for both halves.

Next up Ulsan on Wednesday. I hope we can do a bit better than we did in the first game against our recent perennial ACL rivals. This result should give us some confidence and that game is probably a ‘must not lose’ game for Ulsan so perhaps that will change their approach. To be honest though, who knows what Frontale side will turn up? The dull performances have far outweighed the good ones this year, (actually this was probably the first meaningful good one). I wonder if Johor paying in red and blue and us in white made us think it was a Tamagawa Classico match in Chofu and consequently we cut loose a bit. Hopefully we can keep a similar approach against Ulsan. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for WAKIZAKA 77')
MF 19. TONO Daiya 
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for IENAGA 59')
FW 23. MARCINHO (on for MIYAGI 59')
MF 25. MATSUI Renji
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for KURUMAYA 87')
WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 14' 0-1
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 31' 0-2
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 43' 0-3
MARCINHO (Frontale) 81' 0-4
CHANATHIP (Frontale) 88' 0-5


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