Kawasaki Frontale 4 - 0 Sagan Tosu
I wonder if when we look back on this season we will congratulate Oniki for his determination to get us focused on the league by falling at the first hurdle in pretty much every other competition. Of course I’m joking but our new found clearness of vision/lack of options seems to have really given us a bit of a boost. Combine this with us actually playing players in position and perhaps you have an explanation for our recent successes. Of course this could all come tumbling down soon. Perhaps on Saturday away at Shonan. Or perhaps the following weekend at home against Sanfrecce. But before that happens let’s enjoy the fact that we’re top of the league again for the first time in months. Yeah, this is partly due to YFM still being involved in the ACL… oh that’s not quite right, perhaps I should say ‘being involved in the knockout stages for the absolute shortest time possible and then afterwards having a long rest, hopefully with the fact that they’ve lost their last four games weighing on their mind.’ Before any non-Frontale fans feel the need to remind me, I’m fully aware that they made it one stage further than we did. Let’s be honest, it would be a really weird year when we didn’t manage to mess up the ACL in a new and exciting way. I don’t particularly need that kind of innovation though and in future would settle for us doing a bit better even if it meant we wouldn’t be treated to a unique way of exiting the competition even when faced with a relatively easy route through. People might accuse us of not trying, and in a way, I wish we were not trying. It would be a lot easier to accept than playing our best side and still crashing our limply. Anyway, a small dig at YFM has turned into a massive diversion and every diversion I go down means that the limited time before our next game is shrinking so I’d better get on with this.
We’ve gone four wins in a row in the league now, which we need to do if we’re going to get anything out of this season. It’s not in our hands though, we still need YFM to slip up so it’s not in any way comfortable. Sagan Tosu at home (otherwise known as 0-0) is always a bit of a frustrating game. It’s strange that the fact that this game is always 0-0 is so ingrained in my mind, given that we won it 1-0 last year. The previous three years were 0-0 though and the one before that was 1-1. So I guess I was basically right to assume that this game would be frustrating and a slip up. Perhaps we got the 0-0 against Tosu out of the way in the away fixture this year. Whatever the score at that fixture, you won’t find me upset as I love that trip. And I think Sagan Tosu are a generally quite likeable team. Which makes it slightly unfortunate that we handed them a spanking. I can think of plenty of other sides who I’d rather do that to. At the same time, I’m not going to let any sentimentality get in the way of enjoying this win. We’ve finally started scoring some goals, although poor old Kobayashi still can’t get on the scoresheet as hard as he might try. Damiao seems to still be out injured. And maybe Nobori has picked up something again as he was absent from the squad. Chanathip however is not injured as far as I know, but seems to have drifted out of the picture completely. I think the reason for this is our usual plethora of midfielders and dearth of midfield spots. I’m pleased that Joao Schmidt has kept his place as recently he’s been on fire. So he has to be in the defensive midfield spot, which means that Tachibanada has to play somewhere else. Thankfully Oniki has moved him forward a bit instead of playing him at left back. I’d prefer him in the defensive midfield spot (but then what would happen with Joao…), but he seems to be getting better at playing slightly further forward. So then that leaves Wakizaka, who’s also be doing well recently. Maybe we could play the other midfielders a little further forward then…. But if we’re talking about Chanathip that really didn’t work and I’m pleased to see that Oniki has stopped trying it. Also, you cant really drop Marcinho or Ienaga at the moment. So basically, we’ve got too many good players to fit our formation so obviously someone is going to miss out. I hope the players who are missing out aren’t getting too frustrated though. If we keep winning it seems like we shouldn’t be changing things around too much. So yeah, basically I think we’ve been doing well because we’re playing players in their natural positions and we’re focused. And maybe have got a little fortunate at times. But good form means good results and that means confidence which hopefully feeds back round to the good form. Obviously it has to end at some stage but it would be nice if it didn’t, wouldn’t it?
A quick word about goal scorers. As I said above Kobayashi is desperate for a goal and I would have loved him to have got one but sadly it wasn’t to be. But we did have a few feel good goalscorers though. Oshima got the man of the match in the stadium probably because he scored, is often injured and people like him. It was very much a feel good moment when the ball dropped to him to smash home. Even Kobayashi whose chance had been saved, causing the ball to drop to Oshima looked pleased which shows what a nice guy he is. I hope he scores soon and is happy. Joao Schmidt looked insanely happy when his header went in. It was well deserved given how well he’s been doing in recent times. And Chinen got another goal on his first start after coming back from injury, allowing me to once again roll out my ‘goal maChinen’ nickname for him which works much better on paper than when said out loud, but is justified given how he seems to pop up and score a lot more than our other strikers. He’s definitely not to everyone’s tastes but I think he’s unfairly maligned and hope he continues putting the ball in the back of the net. It would be remiss of me to not write something about the other goal which was perhaps the most enjoyable one. Probably two of the most well known things about Sagan Tosu are the fact that they often punch above their weight and then throw in a total stinker of a performance, so basically are quite unpredictable. Well except when it comes to playing us when they are resolutely solid and unbeatable. The other thing is that their keeper continues the proud tradition of ex-YFM keepers and likes to go walkabout and gift what I believe are known as ‘Iikura chances’ to the opposition on a semi-regular basis. Well, except when it comes to playing us… But both of these ‘so reliable that they could be carved in stone’ commandments were broken in this match and Marcinho was able to take advantage with a lovely chip which I was so sure was going in that I celebrated a bit early. Which could have been awkward if it had hit the bar. But it didn’t, and it was glorious.
Next up, Shonan away, a perennial banana skin and a team that beat us 4-0 at our place a few months ago. So perhaps we owe them one but they are fighting for survival so it won’t be easy. Hopefully we can continue our run and at the same time enjoy the news of a Tsukagawa hatrrick for FC Tokyo as they beat YFM 3-0. I don’t often hope FC Tokyo win, but I’ll certainly be hoping for that result on Saturday!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT
MF 8. TACHIBANADA Kento
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
FW 23. MARCINHO
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for WAKIZAKA 64')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for CHINEN 74')MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki (on for TANIGUCHI 88')
MF 19. TONO Daiya
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 64')
MF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for JESIEL 74')
MF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for JESIEL 74')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
In the stadium they said Oshima, but I’m not going that way as he wasn’t on for that long and his goal was merely the icing on the cake. It’s a bit of a bore from me again, but I’m going to give it to the two players who are really on top of their game recently…
JOAO SCHMIDT & IENAGA Akihiro - just doing the business, relentlessly, mercilessly and unstoppably right now. Long may it continue!
CHINEN (Frontale) 26' 1-0
JOAO SCHMIDT (Frontale) 47' 2-0
MARCINHO (Frontale) 56' 3-0
OSHIMA (Frontale) 87' 4-0
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