Thursday 12 April 2018

Vs Cerezo Osaka (home) 11/4/18 - J League match 7

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 2 Cerezo Osaka

Let me take you on a journey to the future... A flock of pigs glides across the night sky, the blue rays of the moon glinting off them as they survey the frozen expanses of hell below them. This, ladies and gentlemen is the day that Frontale beat Cerezo. It’s been a while. We’ve finally come up with a way to defeat their devious 10 men behind the ball and hoof it forward to the big guy tactics. So much time wasting has taken place that you could put it all together to make a full game with no refereeing errors whatsoever (apart from ignoring the blatant time wasting). I sense that I’m taking this flight of prose fancy too far... we’re crashing back to earth with the realisation that the wonderful day in the future has once again failed to materialise and we’ve once again lost an awful awful game of football to Cerezo Osaka, who are staking a strong claim to be my most detested J League side and are without a doubt our bogiest of bogey teams. Damn this was terrible. I’m going to dispense with my normal blog post structure and instead concentrate on endless moaning. You might want to stop reading now. I probably would.

First of all, what was going on with that team selection? This is the second time this year that Oniki has made multiple changes and put out a just bizarre starting eleven expecting it to be the right team to win the match. Our crucial away match against Melbourne in the ACL which we HAD to win was greeted by Oniki leaving key players at home, us losing and effectively going out of the tournament. This has resulted in us having an actual meaningless game next Wednesday, a fantastic time to rest the main players. Instead, he rested them today for a league game in a campaign that in spite of some deceptively positive results, clearly still hasn’t got into gear. Again a rotten selection has backfired. Did he think that because this was Wednesday it was a Levain Cup game? I understand resting players, but we’re only a couple of months into the season, and last Wednesday in Shanghai, most of the main players were rested, but apparently Oniki thought they needed resting again. I guess this also hints at what we probably all suspected last season. We have a great regular eleven, but are unable to play when we make more than the slightest change to it. And this line up had major changes. Only Taniguchi, Neto, Oshima, Chinen and Sung-Ryong kept their place from the weekend. Abe and Kengo were ‘rested’, Kurumaya was maybe sick, Elsinho, Nara and Ienaga dropped to the bench. I can understand freshening things up but this was closer to a complete gutting. I also thought the concept of rotation was that you gradually move players through the starting line up and bench, leaving a core in place so that you can get some consistency. Instead both wings were totally changed, yet the defensive midfield positions remained untouched. Cue, unfamiliarity and a complete lack of continuity and consequently the type of performance you'd expect.

However, we did start quite well and had a decent amount of the ball and made a few chances. Okubo was doing pretty well in the Kengo position, spraying passes around, Oshima seemed to have been spurred on by me giving the man of the match to Neto and not him last time and was dominating the midfield. Chinen was doing good up front again and scored a nice goal. We’d taken the lead. It was going to be ok! And then they scored direct from a free kick, which Sung-Ryong really should have done better with and any momentum we’d built up shattered. A second goal followed shortly afterwards, again from a set piece. Oshima dallied on the clearance, presumably not realizing that a totally unmarked Cerezo player was charging in to place an easy header past Taniguchi and Sung-Ryong. We looked totally devoid of confidence and like we were going to concede from every set piece. The change was shocking and suggests that we have some serious problems. Last year, if we went a goal down we’d just keep plugging away in the knowledge that sooner or later, we’d get a goal back and then probably another one. This season, if we concede, we look beaten and fall to pieces. The small progress we’d made with some nice moves early on in the first half was gone. We were back to square one, or probably more accurately back to square minus seven or eight.

Cerezo are an ugly team to watch. At least I think so. Especially when they have a lead. With the score at 2-1, they time-wasted endlessly with not a word from the ref, taking an interminable time over every goal kick, letting the ball run through to their keeper who would stand with it at his feet until one of our forwards approached and then pick it up. And then hold on to it for ten seconds before kicking up field causing the same thing to happen again. They also spent an inordinate amount of time on the floor rolling around. When we were attacking, they pulled all 11 players back behind the ball, with ten of them in the box on numerous occasions. They parked the bus with all the excitement that phrase conjures up. And in spite of this being the third time in recent memory this exact same thing has happened, we still don’t know how to deal with it. We passed it backwards and sideways and then lost the ball gifting them a counter attacking opportunity. Our rare shots were hit straight to the keeper, no harder than and with the laser guided accuracy of a back pass. We looked more likely to concede than score. I whinged that we would probably toil for an equaliser, get one in the 90th minute and then concede again in the 94th. No such chance of excitement. The game was pretty much over at half time. Sure we had a go up until we reached the packed full box, when we looked like we had no ideas or no ability. And a terrifying lack of confidence in ourselves. It was rotten. I don’t like to single out players who didn’t do well, but we were sub par all over the pitch. Both wings were pretty bad, front to back. Kobayashi really hasn’t got going this year, neither has Hasegawa but he’s had far less opportunities. Takeoka and Nobori weren’t having the best of nights. And our middle two, who had started quite well, began to make mistake after mistake. Neto’s yellow probably was the reason for his substitution. Can’t complain about the card as although he tried to step over the player, he did make contact. I’m sure unintentionally though. On came Morita who tried his best again. Manabu on for Hasegawa was the change most people seemed to have been waiting for and there was a lot of noise when he first came on and got the ball, but he was fighting a losing battle. All the space he’d exploited against Yokohama was in this game full of Cerezo players and he wasn’t going to be able to dribble through all of them. Ienaga on for Chinen moved Kobayashi up front where he was about as effective as he’d been on the wing. Still there was no real plan B, it was just a matter of changing the personnel and hoping for the best. Towards the end Edu was pushed up front too, but I wouldn’t really call this a plan B. More of a last clutching at straws. We finished the game with twice as many shots as them, twice as many on target, more possession and another defeat. They’ve really got us sussed. We’d probably stand more chance if we didn’t keep gifting them leads for them to sit on. Oh, and of course the ref and his assistants were hopeless, in my far from impartial eyes, giving them absolutely everything, But useless officials is so commonplace now that it is barely worth mentioning and once again to blame the officials would only detract from the real problem, which was entirely of our own making. If you need one image to sum up this match it would be the last kick of the match, Kobayashi blasting a shot so high and wide it probably cleared the stand and sneaked out the corner of the stadium as I wished I had done as soon as Cerezo had gone ahead.

No positives and negatives. I’m sick of writing about this game and it would only be what I’ve written above. I really hope Oniki has worked something out by the time we next have to play them. I’m not hugely confident he will have done though. Our results were papering over the cracks, but now were out of wallpaper, paste, our ladder has fallen over and the house is in danger of collapsing completely. Judging by our reaction to conceding, we’re running empty on confidence and this could become a long, hard and horrible season.

Next up, Sendai away. Who knows who he’ll play. They’re doing better than us so it’s a tricky one and to be honest whoever we were playing, I wouldn’t be too hopeful. A small consolation is that I like the city and there are some good bars to get totally smashed in after the game to obliterate any memories of a terrible performance and bad defeat. If we keep this kind of play up, we could get spanked by someone soon. Hopefully it won’t be this Saturday. Clutching at straws, but perhaps I should start saying 'Go Frontale!' at the end of these posts again as maybe it was good luck. Therefore, as inappropriate as it feels to say it at the moment, (Please! Please!) Go Frontale!

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 23. EDUARDO (Yellow card 47')
MF 21. EDUARDO NETO (Yellow card 51')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF  4. OKUBO Yoshito 
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 25. MORITA Hidemasa (on for NETO 55')
MF 37. SAITO Manabu (on for HASEGAWA 55')
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for CHINEN 71')

My Frontale Clown Of The Match

Slight variation on the theme this time as everyone who did something good in the first half, more than compensated with something rotten later on in the game. So, my inaugural clown of the match award goes to….

ONIKI Toru - bizarre thinking behind a bizarre team selection + total tactical inflexibility + no apparent ideas on what’s going wrong = we lose.


CHINEN (Frontale) 22' 1-0
MARUHASHI (Cerezo) 31’ 1-1
FUKUMITSU (Cerezo) 36’ 1-2


The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that a previous 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.
And we have that extra footage video again at the bottom.


No comments:

Post a Comment