Sunday 26 August 2018

Vs Vegalta Sendai (home) 26/8/18 - J League match 24

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 Vegalta Sendai

Saturday evening saw us back in league action at the Todoroki against Vegalta Sendai. I’m not going to spend too much time writing about the details of this match, as once again, in spite of us dominating the game in terms of possession and getting 2/3 of our shots on target, it wasn’t the most exciting of games. Aside from the goal and the two occasions we hit the post I don’t think we really challenged their keeper. We were pretty incisive right up until their box, where we basically passed the ball to their keeper. And after we took the lead in pretty fortunate circumstances, we seemed to shut up shop and resort to counter attacks. Full credit to Kengo for nicking the ball from some dozy defending for the third time this season but until a possibly unnecessary intervention from the Sendai defender he was miles offside, slowly retreating from the previous attack. On the whole we were quite lifeless, and looked more like a team playing out their remaining fixtures for a safe mid-table finish rather than one trying to catch Hiroshima.

I think I’ve made it clear on numerous occasions on this blog where I think Kurumaya should be playing. He’s doing a decent job at centre back (in fact he probably played better than Taniguchi in this game, who along with Morita seemed very blunder-prone). All that talk about Nara being injured now seems to be shown up for what it was. It’s clear that it’s much more a case of Oniki not liking him, as after 90 minutes on Wednesday, in this game it was Michael James who was chosen to sit on the bench with no chance of coming on (I think I’ve also grumbled on numerous occasions that Oniki's subs seem predetermined and are usually not a reaction to what’s going on on the pitch). Of course the pecking order should change due to people playing well and playing badly, but I think Nara being dropped was harsh in the first place and selection due to form and merit is not equally applied to the whole squad. I am a bit worried about the morale in the squad. There are plenty of players who aren’t looking too happy, and this includes some who are starting. I am guessing that we’ll lose Elsinho at the end of the season (there were rumours before, and recently, and in particular yesterday, he has looked quite frustrated on the pitch). Moriya presumably will want to go somewhere where he has more of a chance as he never seems to be considered anything more than a last resort option by Oniki. Likewise Edu, who seems to be a long way from any pitch time. Nara would also probably have a much better chance of playing under a different manager. If we lose some others to overseas we could be in with a real battle next year. It’s always doom and gloom for me, right? It does seem that some of the spirit of previous seasons has been ripped out of us. We’re still getting results, but it doesn’t feel so good and it certainly doesn’t look as good on the pitch. The fact that we’ve conceded the fewest goals in the league is good, but the fact that we’re not exactly banging them in tells us that we’re moving in a tedious direction, often eking out 1-0 wins against teams we could be scoring more against. Feel free to call me an idiot, but it’s just not much fun watching us at the moment.

I’ll try to be a bit positive and say that Manabu, when he finally got on the pitch after waiting for maybe five minutes for the ball to go out of play, was pretty lively again. His goal seems to have inspired him. His cameo was maybe the highlight of the game for me. Suzuki was less effective than Tuesday, but he did only get ten minutes. Also Abe seemed quite willing to shoot which was nice. He was really unlucky to hit the post, as was Kobayashi. I never know if those are counted as shots on target or not. Of course if both of those had gone in, this post would be nowhere near as gloomy. But presumably if one had, we would have just started sitting back and preserving the lead earlier on in the game. Perhaps we were playing the conditions, as it was very hot yesterday, even at 7pm, but sooner or later, we’re going to throw away a lead late in a game. It’s almost as if we’re undergoing an Arsenal like transformation except in reverse, moving from being an exciting goals galore team to watch, to one with a good defensive record, but are pretty boring, rarely scoring more than once a game, or more accurately in our case, rarely winning by more than one goal. I’ll finish with one final moan and then leave you all alone. We’ve got a hugely talented squad for this league. We could be running away with it with the players we have available. We’ve been pretty lucky with injuries and suspensions. The only thing I believe is holding us back is our manager. He did a great job to win us our first title last year in his first season, but things seem to have regressed since then, even though our squad, (at the start of the year at least, before Neto left), is better. Perhaps we’re moving away from Kazama style, through Kazama/Oniki style to 100% Oniki. As long as luck stays on our side, it could be effective. Just don’t expect it to be that enjoyable.

Next up we have Gamba Osaka away in the league on Saturday. They’re a team fighting for their J1 life. So, exactly the kind of team we play badly against. They were terrible at Todoroki this year but we still struggled to beat them. Hopefully we can get a similar result, but hopefully with a more exiting performance and score line! Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for KOBAYASHI 90+1')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 27. SUZUKI Yuto (on for ABE 81')
MF 37. SAITO Manabu (on for NAKAMURA 73')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

This was a game of such mediocrity that I’m not sure anyone really deserves it. But just for the hell of it...

ABE Hiroyuki - unluckily hit the post with a nice shot, showed his usual willingness to get back and defend when he had to and once again had to put up with Oniki switching him way out of position on to the right wing when Manabu came on.


NAKAMURA (Frontale) 55' 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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