Sunday, 9 August 2020

Vs Oita Trinita (home) 9/8/20 - J League match 9

Kawasaki Frontale
 2 - 0 Oita Trinita

Eight league wins in a row and another new club record. I had intentionally not checked what the J League consecutive wins record was imagining that this would be a certain jinx on us but was informed that it is something like 16 wins in a row by Kashima, so there’s probably not much danger of us getting that far without at least once having dodgy game. But, things are looking pretty good at the moment, aren’t they? Oniki even rang the rotation changes in this game playing Kobayashi and Damiao together! And Kobayashi on the right where I thought he had a great game. I’m not sure how happy he was to be playing there to be honest though. But it’s great that we now have this as an option. I suspect that we might be back to Kobayashi up front in the middle next game, but I think Oniki did the right thing by pushing Kobayashi out to the right to prove that this is a very decent option for us. This game saw us wear our lovely summer kit and following the game I found out that they are now accepting orders for it again after it sold out very quickly. You’ve got till the end of the month to order if you want, but it won’t arrive till the end of January next year which gives those of us who were lucky enough to get one have a few more months of bragging rights before everyone is wearing it. I’m just happy that the first time I wore my new number 9 shirt after being forced to reconsider my choice of number due to the departure of Nara, our number 9 stepped up and had a great game. No jinxes associated with the shirt… yet. Everything is going so well at the moment that I think we’ve all got to make sure that we keep on doing whatever pre-match superstitions we might do for the rest of the year. No pressure…

Once again it was nice to be able to attend a game in person even if the atmosphere was a bit weird. I think actually it was a bit weirder than usual actually with longer periods of silence between bursts of applause. Getting a fair bit of applause though was Diogo Mateus who was deputizing for Yamane at right back. We could be excused for wondering if he actually was a real living player as there had been no sign of him anywhere near a match day squad until he turned up starting in this match. I think he’ll be giving Oniki a few things to think about to be honest. I thought he had a great match after taking a little while to settle in. He seems to be pretty good with both of his feet for passing and crossing. He put in a couple of beautiful crosses in this game which unfortunately didn’t lead to goals but easily could have done if anyone in the middle had been expecting a beautiful cross. Once again, this is another great new string to our bow. Also he was put on set pieces after Wakizaka went off and after settling in to this duty did a great job with them too. Blimey. Aside from the shock inclusion of Diogo at right back the other rotation was a bit more as expected. The rest of the back four was the same and the midfield three was back to the first choice three. The front three were as mentioned above Kobayashi on the right, Leandro Damiao in the middle and Mitoma on the left. So, rotation is beginning to happen. Perhaps the two first choice centre backs are still doing more than their fair share of work right now though. And I wonder if maybe Oniki might try to shuffle the midfield three a little more soon as until now it seems that we go with Tanaka with Oshima and Wakizaka in front of him and then occasionally for some matches switch to the Morita with Shimoda and Wakizaka in front of him with one of the other two coming in at half time for Wakizaka. Perhaps if we could somehow change one of the first choice three it might give some players an opportunity for a rest. Morita coming on and playing like an attacking monster in front of Ao in this game was perhaps the first step to something like this happening. I was really shocked with how attacking he was and this is a great sign I think as recently he’s been playing further back and hasn’t had the opportunity to show what he can do driving forward. I reckon Kurumaya probably deserves to play left back soon in a league game and give Nobori a rest. Nobori has perhaps been one of the unsung heroes so far this season. But this isn’t saying much as there have been plenty of ‘sung’ heroes and every player involved has played pretty well I think.

The result to this game didn’t really tell the whole story I feel. At times we looked amazing going forward and given that it’s something of a surprise that we only scored twice. We definitely came close on quite a few occasions too. Ao’s shot (which I think hit the bar after a lovely backheel from Oshima) could have been one of the goal’s of the season. Kobayashi had a beast of a shot saved well by the Oita keeper too and Damiao could have scored more. It was notable that after he got his goal (which came from a lovely stop and change of direction from him making space as the defender just slid in the opposite direction), he started considering the overhead kicks again. I believe he tried to score from an overhead out towards the corner flag (it was at the other end of the pitch so can’t exactly say for sure) and this really put a smile on my face. It seems that the goal really lifted his spirits and he’s back to his old overheading self again. Fantastic! I’m not sure if Oita were pretty solid at the back and this prevented us from scoring more or perhaps this just wasn’t our day, but there’s no way any Frontale fan could come away from this game being disappointed about us missing those chances. As long as we keep winning and playing some lovely football I’m sure we’re all happy! Oita playing the ball so slowly out from the back was a slightly dangerous tactic I feel as we were really pressuring them very close to their goal. But we only scored twice and neither of those goals came from them messing around with the ball at the back so I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here. They rarely seemed to threaten our goal though, so we were definitely doing something right in the middle and at the back. To be honest, it was just a good all round performance I think and I came away from the match feeling delighted. I just hope Kobayashi is also happy. It seems weird that I haven’t mentioned Mitoma so far so I should say that it was another nice goal for him and he really looks unstoppable at times. There was one dribble in the second half where he got knocked off the ball (fouled, I reckon) and managed to get up and continue his dribble without ever looking like he’d lose the ball. Keep the ‘nuru nuru’ going! I wonder if he’s slightly frustrating to play up front with as if you pass him the ball anywhere near the box, more often than not you’re unlikely to get it back. But he keeps scoring, so good on him! I’ll just finish up with one slight note of concern, or not really concern but perhaps something we need to be careful about. Kobayashi and Mitoma up front on the wings meant that was quite a lot of space in the middle of the pitch at the sides I felt. With two wide players who are so attacking, perhaps the left and right back might need to restrain themselves a little getting forward, but as long as we have the deep sitting midfielder helping the centre backs hopefully we’ll be ok. And I guess there’s also the fact that if we have the ball and don’t lose it, it doesn’t really matter if there are gaps in our formation.

Next up we have Nagoya away in the Levain Cup. A draw is enough for us to win the group but of course it would be nice to win again. Especially as Nagoya have been in some good form recently. After that it’s an away league game against Sapporo next Saturday with an afternoon kick off. Fingers crossed we can see a bit more successful rotation and get a couple more wins in these games. Long may this good form continue (fingers crossed, no jinxes here please). Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 87')
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa (on for WAKIZAKA 62')
MF 19. SAITO Manabu (on for OSHIMA 77')
FW 20. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for MITOMA 77')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
FW 30. HATATE Reo (on for KOBAYASHI 62')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

A lot of good performances all across the pitch here. Kobayashi did great on the right even though it’s not his preferred position. Damiao got a nice goal but also contributed a lot of other things to the game even if he appeared to be knackered after about 30 minutes! Another nice goal from Mitoma and some nice cameos from players off the bench. But given the circumstances I’m going to give it to…

DIOGO MATEUS - great work in his first appearance of any kind. From nowhere to the starting line-up and after a little while settling in looked really dangerous and really solid too. Has a great cross on him from both feet and it seems like this year we might have a different problem at right back with having to choose from two closely matched players Oniki rates rather than find someone to play there who Oniki doesn’t rate.


MITOMA (Frontale) 5' 1-0
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 24' 2-0


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