Sunday, 15 May 2022

Vs Avispa Fukuoka (home) 14/5/22 J League match 13

Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 0 Avispa Fukuoka

As the season progresses my laziness grows exponentially. I took hardly any notes during this game and my photos are bad too. And now am banging this post out as quick as possible. I had a pretty busy week at work and have some long away trips to do in the next week so maybe it’s best that I get this out of the way with minimum fuss. Also, once again there is an hint of there not being that much to write about happening in this match. This game went almost entirely as expected. Well, the first half did anyway. Much like the away game at Fukuoka last year where we dominated but failed when it came to the whole ‘having shots’ thing and then fell victim to a sucker punch goal, the first half was a real treat for Frontale fans who love possession but hate goals and excitement. The one thing that went against all expectation in this match was the fact that we managed to score twice from two nice chances. It’s a bit of luck that we did, as we only had 8 shots in the whole game. Somewhat encouragingly, half of them were on target though. But basically we’re still shot shy and seem to be playing with the handbrake on. We often had possible opportunities from quick breaks in this game but they would invariably peter out to a backward pass as soon as they reached the opposition’s penalty box. Again we went with the same starting line up and subs. But Oniki dramatically shook things up tactically by not making his regulation substitutions till the 80th minute, doing them in groups of three, one and one instead of the usual two, two and one and shockingly changing around the order of subs, by removing Ienaga before Wakizaka. Yes, I know sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the same players started, the same players were on the bench, the same players came off and the same players came on. I shouldn’t moan though as the subs didn’t seem quite as destructive to our play in this game as they were in the Shimizu match. And two 2-0 victories fresh on the heels of another ACL disaster is very welcome, especially given that Kashima are still ahead of us in the league. Would love a couple more 2-0 wins in the next two games which both are potentially dodgy ones for us. We hardly ever win away at Kobe with their dodgy pitch and we hardly ever win away at Sagan Tosu with their excellent selection of match day alcoholic refreshments in the stands. Perhaps that second part isn’t really helping to explain why we don’t win, but it does explain why Sagan Tosu is one of my favourite away games. And also maybe the lack of decent beer in Kobe and our results there explain why Kobe away is always something of a hard sell for me. But we’re going and I’m sure we’ll have a good time. Put your bets on now to predict both the starting line up and the substitutions though. 

I’ll put a little bit more talk about the game here. Firstly from our point of view, it seems that we’re now doing zonal marking at corners we’re defending. I first noticed it at Shimizu and suspect that I would have noticed it before if it wasn’t a new thing as the sight of players just standing in their areas whilst the opposition line up somewhere else was quite disconcerting and arresting. If we did start doing this in the Shimizu game though I guess it’s working ok so far as we haven’t conceded since the ACL. Plenty of time for that to go wrong in the next few matches though I guess! In a quick preview of what I’ll write in my next blog post, our passing wasn’t that great in this game. In the next blog post I will blame that on the rotten Kobe pitch. In this post, I’m not sure what to blame it on… Also we seemed to have changed our tactics from goal kicks, lumping the ball forward to Damiao. It’s a bit weird that we persevered with these tactics as they weren’t really working. The Avispa defenders seemed to be winning most of them. Oh well. The ref in this game was Fukushima who seemed alright I thought. He’s definitely from the ‘no cards’ school of officiating though and I felt like he probably should have handed a few out. Given that one at least probably should have gone to us though, I’ll not moan about it. There were plenty of hard tackles going in on Croux in this game. Perhaps our players got the same impression of him and his style of play from the away game last year that I did. He definitely deserved to be sent off in that game and I don’t think he even got a yellow. So it was nice that we could crunch him a few times in this game when we had a no card ref. Croux looked like he was also suffering a bit with the conditions to be honest. I can sympathise with him as a fellow Western European. It was horribly humid. After he scored an annoyingly good goal against us last year in the game when we forgot how to even get near the goal let alone shoot, I can’t help but say that I enjoyed the fact that he had an uncomfortable afternoon both from the point of view of the weather conditions and the absolutely perfectly fair tackles that were going in on him. 
If you’d told me before the game that I would have a new number one Avispa hate figure after the match I would have been quite surprised, but step forward Mae, who was a horrible whiny little shit in this game. As Kurumaya headed in our second Mae was rolling around on the floor clutching his face which seemed to have been caved in by a light breeze blowing through the stadium. Even his teammates knew he was play acting as no-one bothered to check how he was, instead just getting on with it. He stayed down for ages though, prompting a VAR review which thankfully confirmed the goal. It did take a while though, but I suspect on this occasion they were looking at multiple replays to try and work out why he was on the floor and apparently mortally wounded as it seemed clear from even a cursory look that he had nothing to moan about. Even at the end of the match, as his teammates lined up in front of the Avispa fans waiting to bow and say thanks and then get back in the changing room, he endlessly whined on at the ref in the middle of the pitch, perhaps hoping that the ref would change his mind and take the play back 35 minutes and rule out the goal. I feel sorry for Nara for being on the same team as him. But then again I always feel sorry for Nara. Well, apart from when his header was saved by Sung-Ryong denying Avispa a goal. That was a bit of a squeaky moment. Oh and if you're wondering why one of those photos is a bit weird, that's because there was a Diego Maradona impersonator at the game as part of the pre-match entertainment. The comedians whose catchphrase Wakizaka has taken his goal celebration from were also there, but I couldn't really see any link between the two acts, other than they were both apparently comedy. Have to say though, that I do enjoy watching this pre-game stuff and I find it helps if you start from a position of almost complete ignorance. It seems a lot more fun that way.

Next up, as mentioned above, two slightly dodgy away games. We can be pleased that although Kashima are ahead of us in the league, we have a game in hand and will go ahead of them if we win it. However, that does mean we have to win it and that game is away at Kobe… Aside from their defeat to Sanfrecce last week, Kashima don’t particularly look like they’re going to lose many games this year. And I wouldn’t say we are looking so comfortable that we’re going to win all of our games. Still along way to go in the league though, but another win on Wednesday would certainly make the league table look a lot better for us. And if Urawa pull their finger out and get something against Kashima at the weekend, well, that would also be nice. If they can’t raise their game for a visit of one of their most hated rivals, I’m not sure how they will get out of the bottom half of the table. Anyway, we shouldn’t worry about other games and should instead concentrate on winning our own matches. Fingers crossed that Kobe’s win this weekend is a false dawn and they’re back to their previous dodgy selves on Wednesday. I kind of doubt it though… In any case, Go Frontale!

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 19. TONO Daiya
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (on for TONO 80')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for IENAGA 86')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for WAKIZAKA 90+3')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 80')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 80')
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya

My Frontale Man Of The Match

I don’t really like to do the obvious with these but I think I’m going to disappoint anyone who is expecting me to pull out a surprise this time. It wasn’t a great performance and I would probably usually not bother with it. But seeing as I did that last time I probably shouldn’t do it again. It could have gone to Marcinho, who seems to be our main threat recently, but in the interests of sentimentality, I’ll give it to…

TONO Daiya - scored when it looked like we wouldn’t and put in a decent performance against the team he was on loan to a couple of seasons ago. Whilst I’d like to see him play in the Ienaga position some time, he’s making a real case for being a regular starter in the midfield. 

TONO (Frontale) 55' 1-0
KURUMAYA (Frontale) 59' 2-0


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