Thursday, 26 July 2018

Vs V-Varen Nagasaki (home) 22/7/18 - J League match 17

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 V-Varen Nagasaki

Back to Todoroki and it was a pretty much full house on a sweltering hot day for the visit of V-Varen Nagasaki. Once again, an interesting team name. Perhaps it’s a sign that I have become too comfortable with the J League that recently I rarely find myself being intrigued by the origins of the multitude of intriguing names around. I’ve checked this one though and am pleased to report it’s a mixture of Portuguese and Dutch with the first V standing for two different words in two different languages. Lovely! Understandably given the distance and the fact that this was another Sunday night game, there weren’t a great deal of Nagasaki fans in attendance but fair play to the ones who made it. This was the first home game after the World Cup break and the stadium was actually pretty loud. I guess people have missed their dose of Frontale. Some of us have been to two games in the last week and a half though! In charge was the reliably poor (in my opinion), Nishimura. Fantastic... He wasn’t as bad as he’s been in the past but I still get the impression that he thinks he’s the star attraction and perhaps wilfully makes some strange decisions to draw attention to himself.

The team was unchanged from Wednesday’s game in Sapporo. The bench was almost the same, with the one change being Takeoka taking the place of Michael James, Oniki presumably thinking that it’s better to have two full backs who can be drafted in to have a go in central defence if required than someone who job it is to play that position. Once again, no sign of Moriya or Saito. The game started with Nagasaki really getting in our faces, pressuring us on the ball, particularly in defence. But we were dealing with the pressure pretty well. It was however stifling our attacks. We’d spend ages getting the ball out from the back and then run aground in midfield, being unable to penetrate a ten man Nagasaki defence. We still have trouble playing against teams that defend in numbers against us and with these kind of counter attacking tactics popular this year, we really should have worked something out by now. Nagasaki were playing with two big lumps up front and whilst we contained them, we had a few nervy moments. Juanma seemed to be really one-footed, which probably helped us a lot. It certainly reduced their options. At this point in my notes I have the phrase ‘Nishimura clown’. Can’t remember what in particular it was about, but I think the thought stands up by itself. The one thing missing from both teams play was a final ball. We’d finally reach the danger zone after a lot of sideways passing and try just one more pass instead of having a shot. Taking of which, Oshima never seems to shoot anymore. He used to score some crackers. Wish he’d start doing that again. Perhaps this is also something Moriya brings to our game. He really loves to have a long range shot. It would be good to have that option. The highlight of the first half for me was a couple of perfect almost prone passes Ienaga made after being wrestled to the floor. He seems to be providing me with some special enjoyment every week at the moment. Great stuff! We’d dominated possession as you might expect and had a few shots but hadn’t quite found either our groove or range.

For the second half, we seemed to come out with more purpose. Nagasaki were still content to try to keep the score even and try to snatch a goal on the break, but we shifted up a couple of gears. Unfortunately we still weren’t getting very lucky with our finishing. Elsinho had a nice chance with a header at the back post, but the ball seemed to really change direction after it bounced. We took the lead through Kobayashi who put the ball away at the second time of asking. The first shot was straight at the keeper who parried the ball back to Kobayashi. The second shot was perhaps unnecessarily uncompromising, into the roof of the net with quite some power. It was pretty exciting to see the ball smashed home. Thankfully it went in! You would imagine that us going ahead would mean that the game really opened up and we’d have some more decent chances due to Nagasaki having to commit some more bodies forward. Whilst the latter happened, the former didn’t. We had some chances but looked much more nervy than we had before the goal. For quite some time at the end of the game we were hanging on, with plenty of players back, even indulging in a bit of time wasting if I’m honest. It wasn’t the most edifying of sights. Whilst I don’t want us to be completely Kazama-style gung-ho, it would be nice if we weren’t trying to shut up shop at 1-0, what with us being defending champions playing a team that was promoted last year who are sitting in the bottom half of the table. 1-0 is a bit too dangerous a score and we could easily have conceded an equaliser and then would have probably struggled to go back ahead again. Somewhat interestingly, the substitutions in this game were identical to the last game, so perhaps now we not only have our first eleven set in stone, but also the changes. Nagasaki had the lion’s share of the possession in the second half but we hung on and took the three points. It was nothing like a confident and exciting performance, but with Neto and Nagoya holding Hiroshima to a 0-0 draw, it was a crucial win, reducing the gap to eight points. I guess I’d have to say that I’d take a repeat of these results for a few weeks if it meant that things got a bit closer up at the top of the table.

Positives and negatives. Positives first. Probably the big one is the combination of us winning and the Hiroshima result narrowing the gap. A step in the right direction. Kobayashi's goal was enjoyable and it’s good to see him keep knocking them in. There weren’t really any stand out performances though, either for positive or negative reasons. On to negatives. This was a pretty uninspiring performance. Not bad, just not really there. We looked worse after we scored which is a bit weird. We are still pretty inflexible with the same players starting every game and the same tactics being employed whatever the situation and now even the same subs being made. Sure, we're the reigning champions so maybe we should be forcing other teams to adapt to our way of playing. But the thing is, plenty of them have, and it’s causing us a few headaches. This year may be the year of defending in numbers and snatching long ball goals on the counter attack. We might not like that, but we do need to work out how to combat it and I still don’t think we know. We’re picking up wins and long may that continue, (four in a row in the league, so what am I moaning about?!), but other teams are blasting in goals left right and centre and we’re scraping victories by the odd goal and hanging on with some time wasting. We may soon have to give up our moral high ground. Sure we pass the ball around very nicely but we’re not exactly dazzling. In fact it’s more like someone turned down the dimmer switch to the minimum at the moment. Hopefully, even if we can’t dazzle we can at least glow a little soon.

Next up, Shonan Bellmare away on Saturday. Apparently a typhoon is coming so that makes pretty much every aspect of the match day a challenge. They’re another team in the bottom half, but one which has just hammered Vissel Iniesta (as I believe they are now called). It’s a local derby too, so perhaps that can stir us into life a little. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for NAKAMURA 85')
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (Yellow card 90+3') (on for KOBAYASHI 90')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 27. SUZUKI Yuto (on for ABE 74')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Like I said, not a great deal of stand-out performances in this game. For the sake of giving it to someone, I'll give it to the person who I never really notice, but seems to always get on with doing his thing very well.

OSHIMA Ryota - why not, eh?


KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 67' 1-0


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.

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