Saturday 4 May 2019

Vs Vegalta Sendai (home) 3/5/19 - J League match 10

Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 1 Vegalta Sendai

Writing this after Saturday’s games, we’ve got to say that it’s been another good week for us, at least from a results point of view. From an injury point of view, unbelievably things are getting worse, but whilst we can keep winning with so many injuries, we’ve got to be happy I guess. FC Tokyo’s draw against Gamba means that we’re now only five points behind them. I didn’t see the game, but judging by the stats, (36% possession and one shot on target for them), perhaps FC Tokyo might be reverting to type sooner than we expected. We’re now up to fourth, which is pretty amazing considering how slowly we started this season (like every other season, but every year it never ceases to surprise me). This was a decent performance against a side who are not doing so well at the moment, but you can only beat what is in front of you I guess. We could have scored more, and maybe we shouldn’t have conceded, but I think most people would have been pretty satisfied with the outcome. Here’s what we might have learned from this game.

Blighted by injuries, or maybe reignited by injuries -

I think the one big talking point about this game is not really about this game, if that makes any kind of sense. Looming large is the fact that we have yet more players injured. Nara is the latest to fall victim to the curse of Asao and will be out for four months, requiring surgery on a knee injury. He joins Kengo, Abe, Ienaga, Kurumaya, Caio Cesar and fellow new injuree (…maybe that’s a word) Chinen. Although Chinen was apparently unwell rather than injured. If we were looking to name a team of players who’ve been out injured this year, I think the only positions we wouldn’t be able to fill would be the keeper slot where we've both injury free. This crisis is however giving people chances and some them are seizing them and you could say that some of the injured first teamers were maybe not in the best of form, but still getting picked. Perhaps also, having less players to chose from and having many of his automatic picks out has helped Oniki a bit. Wakisaka put in a decent performance in the Kengo role yesterday, getting two assists and the man of the match award. Jesiel was tidy and solid. Manabu and Hasegawa are looking dangerous. And as long as we keep winning, I guess we’re not missing the injured players too much. But they are big names that are missing, and I wonder how long we can keep this up, as we’ve got a couple of crucial ACL games coming soon. Admittedly though, depending on the result of the first one, the second could become pretty inconsequential. Which leads me on to…

Jesiel ↑, Damiao —, ACL?

I think we had an eye on the upcoming game against Shanghai on Tuesday with our team selection. Michael James who has done pretty well since he came in, dropped to the bench. Apparently Jesiel is not registered for the ACL, so presumably Michael James is being saved for that game. Oshima was on the bench, which I wonder also might have been a move intended to save him for Tuesday. Morita’s return to the team was a good one. He had a decent game. And the occasionally fragile partnership of him and Ao stood up to what Sendai threw at us. The inclusion of Jesiel was very welcome and he acquitted himself well. It’s good to have another option in this position, especially considering the injuries we’ve had there this season. You’ve got to wonder about Leandro Damiao though. And Maguinho too. The former got about five minutes at the end of the game to show what he can do. Perhaps he’s being saved for Tuesday, but I think it’s more a pointer towards the fact that Oniki doesn’t rate him. I appreciate I keep saying this but it seems a touch harsh as he hasn’t really had an opportunity to get going this year even though he scored twice when he started in the league. I don’t know if he’s still trying to settle in, but if this is the case, his settling in can’t progress so well with him just sitting on the bench. It seems more likely that he doesn’t fit the system that Oniki wants to play, which begs the question, why did we buy him? I really hope he gets a chance soon, even if it is only coming off the bench. Maybe if he had a little more time he could show us all what he can do. Unfortunately, he only seems to be being used as a time killing sub at the moment. As for Maguinho, who knows what’s happened to him. If Oniki isn’t keen on Damiao, he must really hate Maguinho.

Another win! (against a team in pretty bad form) -

That’s four wins in a row in the league now! Or 16 points out of a possible 18 if you extend it back a little further. Our detractors will point to the opposition though. Two of those wins were against the bottom two. And none of those wins came against teams currently in the top half of the table. Our next game is against third from bottom Shimizu so it does seem that we’re playing against the teams in worse form recently. Whether we will struggle when we come up against some of the higher placed teams, I don’t know. But you’ve got to think the schedule and results have worked out well for us, considering the injuries. If we look to our neighbours in Chofu, they have had their season hugely front-loaded with home games due to the Rugby World Cup so perhaps they too are in a semi false position. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a bit of a weird season so far. Aside from FC Tokyo, who are somehow undefeated, there are a lot of teams taking points off each other. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that plenty of teams start taking points off FC Tokyo soon!

Come on Sendai, sort it out! -

It’s always a pleasure to play Sendai and I always enjoy the friendship between the two sets of fans. This game saw the usual segregation unenforced, with everyone free to roam round the stadium, and the seating areas being divided with only a bit of rope with a sign on it. Long may this nice relationship continue! I am a little worried for them though, as they offered very little yesterday and you have to think that their lowly league position is probably justified at the moment. I hope they can get out of trouble. As is the case when a team is in a precarious position, luck tends to not be on their side. Our second goal was clearly offside and we were treated to the weird sight of the protesting Sendai players being able to point at the replays on the big screen. I think the ref probably realised quite quickly that he’d made a mistake, but if the linesman doesn’t flag, the ref can’t really be blamed. Perhaps things were evened out a little later on in the game when we had a fourth goal ruled out which looked ok to me (from the complete other end of the pitch…). No doubt about the penalty we got though, I think. And it was good to see Kobayashi put it away after some of his misses last year. We had plenty of chances and could have scored more, but at the same time, Sendai were a lot better in the second half and we could have conceded more than the one we did.

So, a win and what felt like a decent performance, but after a look at the highlights, probably wasn’t quite as comfortable as it felt at the time. I don’t know if we’ll have anyone back from injury before Tuesday, and in spite of Shanghai looking pretty ordinary in the ACL this year, we’ll probably have to be a bit more efficient at the front and at the back in that game if we want to get the win we need. After that game, we have an away game against Shimizu next Sunday. A win in the first is essential to keep our ACL hopes alive. A win in the second is needed to keep this nice league run going and keep the pressure on those above us. Fingers crossed! Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 17. MAWATARI Kazuaki
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 19. SAITO Manabu
MF 28. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 21. ARAI Shota
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for MORITA 72')
DF 27. SUZUKI Yuto
FW 30. MIYASHIRO Tasisei
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for WAKIZAKA 77')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Few players up for this. Official MOTM was given to Wakisaka and whilst he had a good game, I think this might have been slightly motivated by sentimentality. Jesiel had a great debut and looks like a very useful player. Kobayashi’s first goal was a lovely finish and he kept his head for the penalty finish. Sung-Ryong made a couple of good saves and claimed the ball at crucial times to take the pressure off and couldn’t have done anything about their deflected goal. All of these people probably deserved it, but for some reason I’m going to give it to…

SAITO Manabu - really drives our attacks forward. Was desperate for a goal but couldn’t quite get one. Really worried their defence and is clearly improving with every minute he spends on the pitch.


KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 13' 1-0
HASEGAWA (Frontale) 37' 2-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 53' (PEN) 3-0
OIWA (Sendai) 69' 3-1


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