Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Vs Jubilo Iwata (home) 1/12/18 - J League match 34

Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 1 Jubilo Iwata

The season’s over, the #supertitle secured, with us scoring the most and conceding the least in the league. It would be difficult to argue that we aren’t worthy champions.  Although we hardly finished the season in emphatic style, requiring a last minute own goal to defeat Júbilo Iwata. (I'll just say now, that I'm not sure if that accent over the 'u' is correct but the computer is adding it and it looks snazzy so I'm keeping it). Before the match I felt slightly conflicted, as Júbilo did us a huge favour last year drawing against Kashima, allowing us to secure our first title. They also beat Hiroshima a few games ago, but let’s be honest, pretty much everyone has beaten Hiroshima recently. They looked like they were in a little danger due to their dodgy goal difference, but with three teams needing to overtake them to put them into a relegation place and two of them playing each other, it seemed that they’d probably be ok even if we beat them. But as it turned out their last minute own goal dropped them into 16th and now they face Tokyo Verdy in a fight for their J League life. As they’d spent most of the first half trying to kick lumps out of us, I lost any sympathy I might have had for them and when the late winner went in I felt they’d possibly got what they deserved. This was not a nice game of football to watch. They packed the defence, it almost looked like they were playing a back four and a back three simultaneously, and hoofed the ball forward to a returning Yoshito and Kawamata, a forward who I find hard to like due to his constant elbowing of defenders which went entirely unpunished in this game. He, like Yoshito is a classic example of the type of player who you love if he’s on your team, but you can’t help but dislike if he’s playing for the opposition. He did miss a few good chances in the first half though, so maybe you don’t love him that much if he’s on your own team after all. It was a bit of a drab first half for us. We couldn’t really get going and they had the better chances. It seemed that Iemoto has had a word with Kimura and asked him to also give us nothing. As I always admit, I’m hugely biased, but pretty much every decision went against us. The only bright spark was Hasegawa absolutely rinsing Shunsuke Nakamura on a few occasions. I’m not sure if Hasegawa is playing for his future with us, or Oniki just thinks Abe needs a rest. For his sake, hopefully not the former, as he missed a sitter in the second half. Guess we’ll find out soon given that the season is now officially over.

The second half was a bit better for us, and a lot better for fans of entertainment. We had GOALS! Although only three, shared between the two teams and they took a while to come. Júbilo seemed a bit less interested, presumably having seen that Shonan were two goals up against Nagoya. Inevitably though, they opened the scoring and inevitably it was through Okubo. It was a bit of a sloppy goal to concede, Taniguchi lunging and missing his tackle by the touchline, a deep cross to Okubo who’d drifted back off Elsinho at the far post and was in acres of space, and a relatively easy finish. He celebrated wildly and you can’t really hold it against him as the goal seemed like it would be pretty significant for them. The goal gave them something to hang on to and they replaced Okubo shortly afterwards with Musaev, who I have a grudge against, but can’t remember why. This defensive tactical move was immediately answered by us with a long overdue goal from the player who I’m sure everyone acknowledges as the greatest player in our squad, Nara. He hasn’t scored for a while and it seemed to me at least the perfect way to round off a decent season for him. After the goal we continued to push on. I had a feeling earlier in the half that if we scored one we would get going and get another. Admittedly, I hadn’t included conceding first as part of this plan though. The winner came heart-breakingly late for Iwata, and to add to their misery it was an own goal. To be fair, the defender had to do something with the ball as Chinen was right behind him waiting to prod it home, and the accuracy of the pass made it difficult to do anything much apart from deflect it into his own net. Júbilo consequently plummeted into the relegation zone and you have to think that the momentum is all with Tokyo Verdy in the play off. Certainly an interesting game to watch! With an eye on next season, it’s probably noticeable that Ienaga has often been switched into the Kengo role late in games recently. I hope he’s being lined up as the long term replacement and that he decides to spend plenty more seasons with us. Ao presumably is also being blooded with an eye on the future. He’s done ok, but personally I think Shimoda should still be ahead of him in the pecking order. And presumably due to the unexpected injury to Kurumaya, Miyashiro was denied the opportunity of making a late substitute appearance for his debut which is a shame, but hopefully he’s got a long career ahead of him.

So that’s it, all done and with us being out of the Emperor’s Cup, we have a relatively early end to the season. It hasn’t exactly been the most exciting season, but we’ve put in plenty of good performances and are deservedly champions. Whilst some of the play hasn’t been as exciting, the margin of victory in the final table shows we’ve done it a bit more convincingly than last year. But let’s not get carried away. Hiroshima were a long way ahead of us and if they’d kept getting even half of the results they were earlier this year it would have been a lot tougher for us. I’m not convinced we’re as good as the table might suggest and I think we had some luck along the way. I also think we might have a bit of thinking to do before next season. Elsinho has gone and will leave a huge hole in our defense and attack. Plenty of rich clubs have made offers for plenty of our best players and whilst you’d hope they all stay, we might end up losing a few. There are a lot of players who haven’t really seen much pitch time this year as we’ve kept the line up pretty similar all year and we don’t really have a plan B for when things aren’t going our way. It’s hard to believe I’ve found so much to moan about when we’ve just won the league by 12 points, but you know, I do my best! Next up, a rest for the players and an interesting off-season. Next up for this blog, the usual end of season round up posts and I’m going to do the survey again so look out for those in the next month or so. Until then, let’s enjoy the feeling of being champions again! Good work Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 7 KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 25. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for KURUMAYA 14')
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki (on for TANAKA 67')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 37. SAITO Manabu (on for HASEGAWA 78')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

I’d love to give this to Nara again, but I’m going to cop out, like they did with the official man of the match and give it to…

THE WHOLE TEAM - can’t really argue with how that table looks at the end of the year.


OKUBO (Jubilo) 78' 0-1
NARA (Frontale) 83' 1-1
OWN GOAL (Frontale) 90+4' 2-1


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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