Melbourne Victory 1 - 0 Kawasaki Frontale
Our 2018 ACL campaign has gone from terrible to calamitous. Just when you thought we couldn’t put in a more hopeless performance, we managed to sink to new depths. Admittedly, I couldn’t go to the game and have only watched the highlights video, so can’t comment much, but it seems like it was a litany of missed chances, capped off by conceding a really weak goal where challenges were missed and our usual reliable keeper was beaten easily at his near post. Not sure who Oniki is going to blame for this defeat. Melbourne aren’t the greatest side. In 90 minutes against us at the Todoroki they barely offered anything, yet managed to get two goals and a point. In spite of not knowing what to do when they got past the halfway line last week, they managed the same amount of shots as us in this game (15). Only two of theirs were on target. Only four of ours were. So it’s clear that this wasn’t exactly a game of great quality. Sure, we can count ourselves unlucky with our apparently incorrectly ruled out for offside goal, but if we start hanging on officials getting decisions right, we’re going to be hanging for a long time, as the only consistent thing about the refs in the J League and the ACL it seems, is that they are all consistently terrible. Well, most of them anyway.
Apparently the ACL was a priority for us this year. The draw could have been kinder, but we definitely should have got out of the group. Instead we’re sitting with one point after four games. I still can’t work out if Oniki agreed that this was a priority as it's tricky to work out from our team selection. We played our strongest team against Melbourne at home but left a few major players behind for the return leg when we really needed a win. Had he given up before this game was played? Or was it just another bizarre decision? Whatever way you look at it, it’s a bit confusing. Of the players he took, he left some big names on the bench. Was this overconfidence? I’m worried that recently his tactics have been a bit too conservative, with him only willing to get into a game and make changes when we’re running out of time and getting desperate. Our league form looks ok, but I suspect that we’re not doing as well as we think we are. 2-0 against Gamba looks good on paper, but if you saw the game you’ll know that pretty much anyone could have beaten them given the state that they are in at the moment. There’s a lot for Oniki to think about over the next few days.
Next up, Nagoya away on Sunday evening. This could be our toughest test so far this season if you believe what some people have been predicting. One thing’s for sure, we’ll have to step things up a bit if we don’t want to sour the league form with an ACL type performance. Fingers crossed...
DF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
DF 23. EDUARDO (Yellow card 74')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 4. OKUBO Yoshito
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for HASEGAWA 58')MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki (on for IENAGA 78')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for CHINEN 59')DF 17. TAKEOKA Yuto
DF 18. ELSINHO
BARBAROUSES (Melbourne) 90’ 1-0