Sunday 23 February 2020

Vs Sagan Tosu (home) 22/2/20 - J League match 1

Kawasaki Frontale 0 - 0 Sagan Tosu

So we’re off and running in the J League for 2020. Although with us failing to beat Sagan Tosu at our place in this game, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s still 2019. Or 2018… Or 2017... We have a brand spanking new formation! Brand new tactics (apparently)! Brand new exciting young players! And another draw filled with loads of limp shots, most of which were off target. So, another season starting with a whimper rather than a bang. I’m not going to moan too much yet as I get a bit fed up with hearing myself do it to be honest. And it’s still early days, but it would be nice to get a reasonable start for once. Let’s get this post out of the way quickly and then move on to our next potential disappointment next weekend at home against Consadole. Here’s what we might have learned from this game.

New tactics, same problems -
We were lulled into a false sense of excitement earlier this year by the talk of us playing attacking football and bringing some excitement back. Last week’s game against Shimizu might have reinforced this positivity, but even last week it seemed that we spent most of the game doing the same ponderous passing with no intent as we did for most of last year. Somehow we ended up scoring five times. Not even a hint of such excitement in this game though, which saw us create loads of ‘chances’ but fail to put the majority of them on target. When we did ‘challenge’ their keeper it was only a mental challenge, as he tried to work out why we might be tamely rolling the ball to him rather than trying to score. We did alright down the wings in this game. Well, right up until the point where we had to cross the ball. I still feel that the midfield three isn’t completely working. Taniguchi and Jesiel yesterday seemed to be trying to outdo each other with increasingly comical blunders, which thankfully Sagan Tosu failed to capitalise on. To be honest though, we really should have had enough to get the job done. Although it did seem that Sagan Tosu seemed to be playing a back seven. Consequently, there was no space for us at all, but it’s not like we haven’t experienced that last year. Seems we still don’t have a solution though. And perhaps a preseason filled with goals against amateur teams has lulled us into a false sense of security that we will be able to easily win every game. Got to get those shots on target though if you want to score.

Best 11? -
Last week we couldn’t be exactly sure who our preferred starting line up would be. Kobayashi on the bench seemed to be because Miyashiro had to start due to the Levain cup’s young player requirements. I imagined that Kobayashi would slot in on the right in this game. Instead he was still on the bench with Ienaga taking that spot. I wonder if this is because Kobayashi still doesn’t want to play on the right, even if it is as one of a front three. If this is the case, it’s surely only a matter of time till Oniki ditches Leandro Damiao again. I didn’t think Ienaga was as bad there as some people have said. Hatate did well when he came on… well right up until shooting, but you can say that about plenty of others too. But if Kobayashi isn’t going to play on the right, I imagine this is going to be a difficult spot for us. You can’t really argue with the midfield three, but at the same time, you can’t really say that any of them covered themselves in glory in this game. Wouldn’t change them though. The goal keeper situation remains confusing. Well confusing behind Sung-Ryong who seems to be first choice. Last week Ando was on the bench and this week it was Tanno. Perhaps Oniki is going to rotate the substitute goalkeeper every game this year. But anyway, all of this is kind of immaterial as the team selected should easily have got us over the line against a Sagan Tosu team who look like they’re going to spend most of the season with 80% of their players packed into their own box.

VARse -
It’s a bad and unoriginal pun, I know, but I think I’ll be saying it a lot this year. No complaints about the goal being disallowed. At the time I thought I’d spotted a handball, so I was expecting something (not an offside, but some disappointment certainly). But it’s just rubbish isn’t it? There was a total lack of clarity in the ground. We were lined up for the kick off after the ‘goal’ before anyone really noticed it was being reviewed. I hate celebrating and then not getting a goal. I guess celebrating, pausing and the celebrating mutedly again is probably weirder though. It just all seems so random. Perhaps it will take us all some time to get used to it, but given that it’s been a total disaster in the Premier League, I’m surprised any other league is keen to adopt it. And as we’ve come to expect, the general standard of refereeing is so bad that even with the benefit of a video replay I’m not totally confident they’d get decisions right. I’m not particularly sure about the new more lenient refereeing regarding tackles. I certainly think that it’s not going to help us. Kimura seemed to let Tosu get away with a lot yesterday and I don’t really understand why we need less yellow cards in the game. Perhaps though it might be a benefit for us to not get so many free kicks considering what we do with them.

Weird walls -
Yes, this year, we’re doing that weird wall in front of the wall thing. No idea what this is supposed to achieve. And no idea why Noborizato is lining everything up and then running over the ball. I don’t think anyone expects him to take one. Perhaps in a few weeks time he’ll run over the ball past the wall and get a pass from the free kick taker. Seems like a lot of preparation for something that we can only do once though. Both of the free kicks we did this lengthy preparation for, (one of which was the last kick of the game, so we were effectively wasting our own time), went into the wall I think. So clearly some work to be done there. Admittedly the extremely windy conditions probably weren’t helping things where the ball had to leave the ground so maybe it was just easier all round to blast the ball aimlessly into the wall.

So, hopefully this is just another slow start, and in a way, what better way to start than with a game against a team we should beat but against whom we always draw? Let’s be optimistic and look at it that way, getting our annual poor home performance again Sagan Tosu out of the way early on. However, we really need to up our game as we were really lacking quality in this match. I don’t feel that there’s really so much difference in our tactics from last year. Occasionally we get the ball forwards quickly, but we relapse to our normal ‘patient’ play quite often. Our shooting was horrible in this game and that is a bigger problem at the moment than any unfamiliarity with new tactics or individual dodgy performances. We’ll probably have more space to play in next week against Consadole, but if we still can’t get a shot on target we’re not going to score. Of course, it’s still very early days, but fingers crossed we can do a bit better soon.


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 18. MITOMA Kaoru (on for HASEGAWA 65')
FW 30. HATATE Reo (on for IENAGA 65')
MF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya

My Frontale Man Of The Match

This is a bit of an unusual one as the quality was generally poor in most areas of the pitch so I'd normally not bother. Seems weird to give it to someone who only played 25 minutes but never mind, it’s going to….

MITOMA Kaoru - Looks pretty dangerous on the ball and gave us some real drive. Cuts in from the left a lot so I wonder if he could also be used on the right.





  1. I just found your blog and I cannot thank you enough! I’ve been looking for something like this for ages as a Frontale fan in the US. ありがとうございました. Keep up the amazing work.

  2. Thanks for reading! Hopefully we'll have another game soon...