Sunday 28 August 2022

Vs Kashima Antlers (home) 27/8/22 J League match 27

Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 1 Kashima Antlers 

Before this game I met up with FC Ryukyu fan Okinawa Ozzy for some beers at Haneda airport. I went there straight from my Saturday morning work. After he’d headed off, I had a bit of time to kill as I was going to arrive in Kawasaki much too early. So I popped to the pub. Even though I’d had plenty of time to spare, I somehow managed to not really get any lunch or dinner along the way, relying on a few snacks. After the game I went to the usual post match pub to celebrate the result and then caught the last train home. I think you might be able to see what this is all leading to. Basically, I probably didn’t pay enough attention during the match, didn’t make any interesting notes, got caught up in the excitement… and so on. Yes, this post is going to be pretty vague. However, I’m pleased to see that my feelings about and impression of the match seem to broadly line up with the match stats. We did alright, got off to a good start, rode our luck at times, and didn’t have much of the ball. We did however take the three points, which let’s be honest, at this stage of the season is far more important. With Kevin Muscats’ lot not playing this weekend due to the ACL (even though their participation in that competition didn’t last much longer than ours did and they have effectively been free for the last nine days), we now have closed the gap on them to two points, winning our games in hand. Their form is pretty horrible, four defeats in a row, but presumably that will break soon. Hopefully it won’t. Our form is better! Three league wins in a row was what we needed and somehow what we got. It’s a shame that we had to play that Urawa game when we were so COVID depleted as if we’d won that game we’d now be top of the table. With YFM not playing till next weekend and us having a game on Wednesday, (the home game against Sagan Tosu that was postponed due to them having COVID), there is the mathematical possibility that we could go top of the table on Wednesday night. I say mathematical possibility, as everyone in the world knows that game will almost certainly finish 0-0, as it does, EVERY DAMN YEAR. We follow that up with an away game at Shonan, a team who hammered us at home and whose lowly league position and bad form never seems to matter when it comes to us playing them. YFM have FC Tokyo. Come on Tsukagawa, get stuck in and cause some mayhem. So this game, eh? I have two main memories of the match so I’ll give each one a paragraph. 
Do you remember the away game against Kashima this year? This was pretty much the same as that. We started alright, scored twice early on and then hung on for most of the match. In that game, they didn’t manage to score and in this one they got one which made everything a bit squeakier, but effectively the feeling was the same. Go ahead, perhaps slightly against the run of play, double the lead and then grimly hang on. In that game it was Chinen and Sasaki who scored. In this one it was Ienaga and Wakizaka. Chinen was back in the matchday squad though. As was Nobori, which I guess means his rumored back injury wasn’t so bad. Damiao wasn’t though. Which I guess means his injury is as bad as we expected… Also absent were Sung-Ryong, who was back in Korea due to a family bereavement and Chanathip and Seko, who were… I dunno. Oshima was also back from his injury and managed 20 minutes at the end of the match. Chinen got 30 minutes and I thought he did ok again. Recently poor old Kobayashi just never seems to have any luck when it comes to him making a mark when he gets an opportunity to start. I guess he’ll have more chances though as it seems we might be missing Damiao for a while (no evidence of this, just a feeling). The first half was quite exciting, which I guess is exactly how you describe a match where there are chances at either end and your team scores and the opposition don’t. Kashima were extremely fouly and the ref started the match well giving them a few yellows. I think he felt he’d overdone it though, as for large portions of the match it seemed that plenty of players were getting away with murder (metaphorically speaking. They fouled a lot but none of them were actually fatal blows, not for want of trying from some players). Going in for half time 2-0 down the Kashima Fans kept on drumming and clapping. And continued to do so for the whole of half time. Which I was all ready to make a snarky comment about, but then their team came out blazing in the second half and scored so I guess I can’t. Sadly for us they stopped fouling so much in the second half and started playing a bit more. But we held on and took the three points. Phew!

The only other points I have to make are the usual 'amusing' borderline abusive comments that I like to make about opposition players who I don’t like. I have never seen Diego Pituca look so shocked as he did when the penalty was awarded against him. Well, not since he allegedly pushed an assailant into an Amsterdam canal and possibly committed manslaughter in self-defence. Or perhaps that time when he had to leave daytime TV quiz show Eggheads due to an allegation that he was later cleared of. (Yeah, this is a very niche reference and weak comparison, but I’m to keep going with it every time he plays against us and annoys me. Actually, the second half of that is probably superfluous). Hmmmm. Who should I whinge about next…? Maybe there’s no-one worth mentioning. No-one who really embodies the (spit on the ball when the decision goes against you) ‘Spirit of Zico’ in the Kashima team… Ah! How could I forget? It's Yuma Suzuki, whose panto villain elements just increase game by game. Perhaps worried that he will soon engineer a transfer to an extremely minor level foreign league on a big salary by sulking and refusing to play, he now seems to have been made Kashima’s captain, setting an example for his teammates with cool-headed and reasonable reactions to decisions, and fair play at all times. Clearly I’m aware that he’s a good player, and in this game everything seemed to be going through him for Kashima. Pleasingly that meant that when the ball did make it into the box he wasn’t there, as he tended to be the supplier instead, and therefore he didn’t manage to score. He did however manage to shin one of our players in the face in an incident that surely warranted a yellow and probably a red. But refs seem to be scared of him. He could basically do anything he wanted in this game and never get booked. I guess he does look like the type of guy who would respond to what he considers an unjustified yellow card for a machete amputation of an opposition player’s limb by murdering first the ref, and then tracking down all of his family and friends and doing the same to them. Surely it’s only a matter of time before he punches an official or perhaps his manager and then gets loaned to FC Tokyo, where he can follow the path of Kashima’s other recent troublemaker Leandro. Anyway, Kashima’s noble captain for some reason was rocking a shirt tucked-in, shorts rolled-up look which brought to mind nothing other than a full nappy. And judging from his grumpiness I think that nappy had been filled for quite a while, hadn’t been changed and the nappy rash was starting to kick in. I suppose that’s one way to explain the sulking. Anyway, what’s the point of even writing this, nobody likes him and everybody knows he’s a horrible dirty player. The real shame is that he’s actually quite good too. But as long as he’s sulking, I’m happy. 

So there we go, a weak and detail free comparison to a game earlier in the season and a paragraph of moaning about Kashima players. What a masterwork! On Wednesday I’ll be working (and therefore not getting drunk) before the game so will probably come away with some more detailed thoughts about that match. I would say it’s a must win, but that goes without saying, as they are all must win games now. But yeah, probably a 0-0. Or maybe even worse. And then Shonan away on Saturday. Whether we’ll see any rotation for those games, I’m not sure. Judging by Oniki’s previous decisions in similar situations where he’s shown unwillingness to change things unless he really has to, I’d say probably not. But at least we have a team who are winning at the moment. Not changing a team that isn’t winning is frustrating, so let’s hope we can keep this momentum going!
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (Yellow card 26')
MF 8. TACHIBANADA Kento (Yellow card 68')
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 21. ANDO Shunsuke
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 59')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for WAKIZAKA 72')
MF 19. TONO Daiya (on for MARCINHO 72')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for KOBAYASHI 59')
MF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for TACHIBANADA 90')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Joao Schmidt had another great game I thought. He’s just a troublemaker for the opposition and I thought his yellow card was a bit dodgy. I could give it to him again but instead I think I’ll go for…

IENAGA Akihiro - playing really well at the moment. Seems to be impossible to get the ball off him and I love his attitude and reaction when someone dares to try to do so. Kashima fans apparently believe that they will never beat us ever again if he is playing which sounds good to me. Great penalty too. 
IENAGA (Frontale) PEN 8' 1-0
WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 14' 2-0
NAKAMA (Kashima) 52' 1-0

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