Sunday, 5 July 2020

Vs Kashima Antlers (home) 4/7/20 - J League match 2

Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 1 Kashima Antlers

Football is back!! Sorry… J League is back!! Oh sorry… J1 is back!!! Back on DAZN but not back in the stadium, although apparently it will be ok by next weekend. This season is going to prove challenging for this meandering blog as I normally struggle to squeeze out the blog posts before the following game and now we’re going Saturday/Wednesday for the foreseeable future. Consequently, I’m going to cut back on the effort. I figure that as everybody has probably been able to watch the game online somehow there is not so much point in me boring on to such lengths. Furthermore, I find it quite hard to watch the match with the same enthusiasm and focus when it’s on DAZN. Although perhaps this was exacerbated by the pretty average fare on display in this game. Anyway, this is all just a preamble to say that these posts are hopefully going to be a bit more succinct for a while. At least that’s the plan. I’ll just write a paragraph or two, probably mostly moaning, and that’ll do. You’ll almost certainly be able to glean more information from watching the 3 minute highlight video.

So, unlike last year we have managed an early season home win against Kashima. Perhaps this is a positive. But if we’re being brutally honest, Kashima have been pretty terrible so far this year. I would say that this was a game of two halves but that would suggest a bit more excitement than what was on show. Hasegawa’s goal was nice. Taniguchi’s goal was offside. Kashima’s goal was a clanger of an own goal from us. In the first half, I’d say we were the better team and Kashima didn’t really have many chances, in spite of them pushing loads of players forwards. We also were doing that so it should have been exciting, but in reality, it was all a bit mediocre. Kashima totally bossed us for the last 20 mins, when we hardly touched the ball. So much for the swashbuckling attacking play we’d been promised. But we held on, despite Kashima whinging away at the ref and claiming for a penalty as their player was touched after he’d totally lost the ball and already started his dive. I’m pleased it wasn’t given (particularly as we’d had a much clearer penalty turned down in the first half I thought, (but of course I’d think that….) ), but couldn’t really have complained if they had got an equaliser as it was backs to wall stuff from us for large periods of the second half. But we hung on and now have a win to go with our opening day draw against Tosu. Not sure which performance was more lacklustre but at least this one, aside from the fact that we had to witness it remotely, was much more enjoyable.

Here are some quickly thrown out opinions with little evidence supplied to back them up. We are starting slowly again. Cricket score wins in training matches really don’t matter if when it comes to real games we seize up. Kashima looked pretty average. I can see them finishing in the bottom half if they don’t sort themselves out soon. I’m sure they wouldn’t have conceded twice if they’d played Nara…. I’m glad they didn’t. We didn’t change the starting line up from the first disappointing draw against Tosu in February but I suppose it’s been so long since that game that you can’t really read too much into it. I have to say we looked pretty disjointed in midfield and up front and Taniguchi and Jesiel looked bit shaky. I’m also not convinced that Nobori and Yamane did particularly well. Guess that only leaves Sung-Ryong… I don’t feel that the system has changed that much and even if Oniki was apparently telling the players to shoot more through his instructions, I guess old sideways passing habits are hard to break. But it’s still early days so I'm not going to have a go. I would say though it would be nice if we didn’t always start every season so slowly. Credit to Oniki for leaving Damiao on for 90 minutes. He’s clearly not going to get into the swing of things if he is getting hooked early on in the second half every game. It’s really unfortunate that he scored the own goal as I feel like he’s a confidence player and that’s not exactly going to push his confidence in the right direction. Perhaps there was a lack of communication between him and Sung-Ryong for the goal, but which ever way you look at it, it was a pretty poor goal to concede. Thankfully it wasn’t terminal though. Not sure about the substitutions again. You can’t say that we improved after the changes. In fact we got a lot more disorganized after them, but if the starting eleven aren't gelling it would be a bit harsh to expect the subs to come on, fit right in and sort things out. Substitutions are going to be interesting this year. Given that we can now change five players but only on a maximum of three occasions, it is probably going to take us a while to work out how best to utilise this. It's still weird that we seemed to do the old favourite 'tactical change over the course of two separate subs' thing though. Hatate coming on to replace Wakizaka but having to wait twelve minutes playing out of position till the next set of subs where he could take up Ienaga's position on the right.  We’ve had plenty of time to work on our ‘new tactics’ but it seems that we still are not too sure about them. We need to make more of our set pieces. Neither Wakizaka or Oshima seemed to do much from them and after Shimoda (someone who is much better at taking them) came on, I don’t think we had any set pieces. I think we barely had the ball to be honest. As I said on Twitter and I will reprise here, we were a bit shit, so were they, we won. That’s about all there is to say. Oh apart from the fact that it was nice that we didn't go with the fake crowd noise and only played recorded chants after the goals. Whichever way you look at it, these games are going to be weird. Playing random crowd noise doesn't exactly help them seem less weird, so I think our minimal approach was the right way to go.

So, four points on the board from two pretty poor performances is not too bad. FC Tokyo away on Wednesday, and how lovely it would be to give them a hiding. They have two wins from two games but it seems that they too are not exactly setting the world alight with their exciting ‘new tactics’. I won’t make any predictions as that’s not my wont, but we’ll have to play a lot better than we did against Sagan Tosu and Kashima (how fun it is to group those two clubs together as examples of poor quality teams). The following Saturday it's Kashiwa at home, who have just lost to FC Tokyo after going a bit nuts on the opening day. Of course things are still settling down, but perhaps we’ll have a bit more clarity after those two games. I will be in the stadium as my wife managed to get tickets. Whether they will still accept spectators after a few days of rapidly rising corona virus figures I don’t know. And whether it will be fun, I also don’t know. Guess it will be a unique experience, but I suppose we won’t have the usually unintentional amusing Kashiwa banners to observe. Probably for the best as I would imagine laughing is prohibited. Along with clapping, singing, shouting, and towel waving. Fingers crossed that this time next week we have 10 points from 4 games. Or given that I am resolutely negative, fingers crossed we won’t have 4 points from 4 games. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki 
(Yellow card 81')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro 
(Yellow card 43')
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya

GK 24. ANDO Shunsuke
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa (on for IENAGA 74')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 83')
MF 19. SAITO Manabu (on for HASEGAWA 74')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto (on for OSHIMA 83')
FW 30. HATATE Reo (on for WAKIZAKA 62')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

I dunno, it was all pretty average. How about...

Sung-Ryong JUNG - Couldn't really have done anything about the expert finish for the goal. Can't say he was really expecting that to happen and aside from that, stopped everything he needed to.


TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 2' 1-0 
HASEGAWA (Frontale) 30' 2-0 
OWN GOAL (Kashima) 32' 2-1


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