Our starting line up has been so stable the last few games, (after a torrid start to the season injury wise), that I probably don't even need to mention who started. The only change to the match day squad was Morimoto replacing Miyoshi on the bench. One thing of note was us wearing our away kit at home. This was probably because Arrows had sponsored the game. The revolving front four, which seems to alternate between working well and misfiring was having a good day and they made a bright start creating a few early chances. Kobe, who are undergoing something of an injury crisis themselves started the game in combative mode getting a few early crunching tackles in and earning themselves an early booking. Contrary to some of the match reports, I felt that everything was coming down the left for us, with Nobori and Kurumaya overlapping and creating quite a few headaches for the Kobe defence. An early let off for Kobe came from a lovely move which ended with Nobori crossing and Abe doing a magnificent fresh air shot as the ball trundled past him. He made up for this on the ninth minute though, as we took the lead. A great looping pass from Kengo through the middle of the pitch (completely contradicting what I said above about the left) finished with Kobayashi unselfishly squaring the ball for Abe to tap in. It was a very nice team move and whilst it was an easy finish, you have to be in the right position to finish so easily, so full credit to all involved. Ten minutes later we doubled our lead and it was Abe again. Once again it was through the middle (maybe everything was going down the left apart from the goals…) and unusually for us was a quick break on the counter attack. Kobayashi passed to Kengo and as the two of them and Abe raced forward it seemed inevitable that we would score. Kobayashi opened up some space for Kengo to square the ball to Abe who dramatically smashed the ball into the top corner, slightly worryingly, as the keeper had already committed himself and the goal was gaping. But it went in, so even better that it looked fancy. There was a lot of space as one of the Kobe defenders had pulled up injured as we attacked (get well soon!), so we were fortunate in that respect. But, we were ripping through them when attacking, so it was definitely coming. Abe has now scored seven so far this season, equaling his highest goal scoring haul from all his previous seasons. It wasn't all one way though. Kobe we're making some chances of their own, but our centre backs were holding firm. Edu put in a series of great tackles throughout the game. Neto and Oshima were also going a good job in a solid looking central midfield. Oshima's passing was a little dodgy though, giving the ball away a few times. There was a lot of counter attacking going on and the game was swinging from end to end. The main difference though, was that we were cutting through them and they were having a few problems at the back, and that when they attacked we were snuffing most things out before they could get too close to our goal. All in all, a pretty satisfying first half. We probably should have scored more but I'll settle for two unanswered goals and a good feeling in the stands.
The second half continued in much the same way. There were no early substitutions and we kept making chances (12 in the second half if the stats were correct). Kobayashi was doing his usual thing of missing a few easy chances before building up to score a cracker. Sometimes he seems so unlucky, going on a great dribble only to have the ball bobble or be nicked from him just as he's about to shoot. I guess it's confidence, and hopefully after this game that will be increasing. He scored his first goal of the game on 68 minutes. A powerful shot from Elsinho was parried by their keeper and the ball fell for Abe on the edge of the box. He floated a lovely ball in to Kobayashi, who wrong-footed the defenders and headed home in loads of space. The first change of the game came on 78 minutes (pretty late for Oniki) with Hasegawa replacing Nobori who had had a very good game, full of energy as usual. It made sense as we'd gone a bit flat and lost our way slightly. Not saying we looked like we were in trouble, as Kobe didn't really offer that much, but our attacking had lost its edge a little. On 81 minutes we got our fourth, a nice header from Taniguchi from a Kengo cross. It kind of came from a corner actually (hence Taniguchi being in the box), as Abe’s initial shot was parried out for Kengo to curl the ball back in again. The Kobe fans tried in vain to inspire their team with a rousing choruses of 'The Bloody Entertainer' and 'Go Bloody West' (these are honestly the actual names of those songs and have nothing to do with how I feel about them). 'The Entertainer' seemed particularly ironic given what their team were serving up for them. Or possibly they were singing for us and for Abe, who was a constant threat all over the pitch. He'd scored a couple, got an assist for our third and was defending when he needed to. A complete performance. Although he still had time for one more assist. This came in the 94th minute and was rubbing salt in the wounds for Kobe, who’d had a bit of a nightmare. Abe drove a low cross in from the left and Kobayashi prodded home from close range, again, unmarked. Not sure if this was a reflection on the Kobe defence or our attacking. Think the truth probably is that they were having a bit of a nightmare and we were on top of our game. We certainly didn’t play like that against Sanfrecce who are significantly lower down in the table. Our attack was on fire. So many different players had decent chances and we really could have scored more. All in all, a very satisfying day.
It seems a little churlish to do the negatives portion of positives and negatives for a game that we won 5-0, but I’ve started this tradition so I’d better keep it going, I guess. Let’s start negative. Actually maybe there aren’t really any. Guess we could say that we’re still missing some easy chances but realistically this is always going to happen and when we put five in, it’s hard to complain about the ones that didn’t hit the back of the net. Positives. Great performance from Abe, all over the pitch, scoring and assisting. Very pleased to see Kobayashi get a couple. Hope it boosts his confidence, as he’s been playing well, but finishing badly recently. We looked solid all over the pitch, with any minor errors being made up for by other members of the team. Edu put in some great tackles and let’s be honest, it’s not often that you come away from a 5-0 victory remembering great tackles. All round good team performance and a morale boosting truckload of goals. Also we seem to not really be picking up too many bookings recently which is also nice. This was another game with none. An all round fun day!
Next up, we have Urawa at home in the rescheduled 13th game of the season. The game is tonight. Sorry it took me so long to get this post up. Busy time at the moment! They will be the last team for us to play in the first half of the league this year. Let’s hope it will be unlucky 13 for them rather than us. We both won at the weekend, but before then they had been going through a bit of a sticky patch. Whilst I would be delighted if they resume that sticky patch against us, it seems that they do tend to get frustratingly good results against us so I can’t get carried away with optimism. It will provide an interesting appetizer for our two ACL games against them coming up in August and September. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. After that we’re away to Sagan Tosu. I’m looking forward to this trip as it’s a new ground and a new prefecture for me. Two wins would be lovely! Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 18. ELSINHO
DF 5. TANIGUCHI ShogoDF 23. EDUARDO
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
MF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki
GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 3. NARA TatsukiMF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (on for ELSINHO 84')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for NOBORIZATO 78')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for NAKAMURA 83')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Satisfyingly, there were plenty of good performances in this game, but one really stood out, and not just for what the stats show.
ABE Hiroyuki - Two goals and two assists whilst tracking back and covering defensively, it could only be him really.
ABE (Frontale) 20' 2-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 68' 3-0
TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 81' 4-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 90+4' 5-0
The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that last year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want. There's also now some other match related content exclusive to the Frontale channel, so that's the bottom video.