Kawasaki Frontale 5 - 1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Another big win! And now we even have the luxury of no game for a whole week. Lovely! Unbelievable this was the seventh time we’ve scored five or more goals this season. Admittedly, we’re half way through the season now, but 44 points out of a possible 51, and 52 goals scored in 17 league games is a pretty amazing first half to any campaign. But still we have that troublesome pink mist hanging around, not right behind us, but certainly close enough to cause a few worries, especially given that they have a game in hand. Sadly our neighbours weren’t able to stop them winning at the weekend, but I guess we can take some consolation from the fact that our tricolor chums have lost another game. Obviously a draw would have been much better for us though. A mini midweek round of games will give some teams the opportunity to catch up on some fixtures. Cerezo will play Kobe, so hopefully local pride will boost a Kobe team who can’t even lay the claim to being best team in Kansai right now, let alone Asia. So, on Wednesday night the league table will look a bit clearer. FC Tokyo who are currently in third will also be playing, but that game will put them one game ahead of us. For this game Oniki did exactly what I hoped he would and shuffled the pack a bit with Taniguchi completely left out of the squad and rested and Yamamura taking his place in defence. Kurumaya came in for Nobori. Ienaga and Oshima were on the bench and another new midfield three was tried out. I was a bit suprised to not see Diogo come in for Yamane, but Yamane did more than enough to justify his inclusion and didn’t look anywhere near as knackered and out of form as he has recently. The rest of the pitch is as always a bit of a mystery. I don’t think any of us really know who are the first choices in the front three and as long as we keep smacking in the goals that’s fine by me. In any case, it was nice to see Manabu get another start. As usual, here are a few bullet points about this match.
Goals! Goals! Goals! -
As I mentioned above, it was lovely to score a load of goals again and particularly lovely to score them against Sanfrecce, who I don’t find particularly likeable. As has happened on so many occasions, we didn’t go nuts until the second half and at times in the first it looked like Hiroshima would give us a game. They broke through the middle on a few occasions, perhaps capitalising on some confusion as I can’t say for sure whether it was Ao or Morita playing in the anchor role. I’d guess it was Morita though, given that Ao scored two lovely goals from lovely passing moves. There’s certainly more to his game than we might have been led to believe by his performances in front of the defence. Aside from these two, Mitoma dribbled as is his wont and set up Leandro Damiao for a relatively easy tap in (easy if you’re in the right place at the right time). Damiao looked chuffed as usual. Mitoma didn’t do a great deal else in this game and he seems to have lost a bit of momentum recently. This is hugely unfair though as I’m sure I wouldn’t be feeling that way if he hadn’t started the season in such crazily good form. Kobayashi put away a penalty (always a nice thing to see) and although the Hiroshima players and fans had a few complaints about it, (on the pitch and on twitter), I think it’s pretty clear from some of the replays I’ve seen and in any case, the game was pretty much done at that stage anyway. Reading the recent updates to the laws it seems that even with them attempting to clarify the handball rule, there are numerous interpretations of the language, however cut and dry they may have tried to make it. My favourite of the goals was Yamamura’s. He absolutely smacked the ball in from just outside the box after a succession of our shots and chances had been successively cleared by the Hiroshima 10 man defence. Glorious! And even more so when certain details emerged after the game. It’s clear that this game was won in the 10 minutes after half time when we just couldn’t stop scoring. It’s been a common factor that we come out blazing in the second half but I don’t think we’ve blazed so brightly yet this year. Yamamura is the 15th player to score for us this year which is a hell of a stat in half a season. We really seem like a team though rather than a collection of independent individuals, with everyone playing for one another and happy to see each other score. Sure, we are shooting a lot more than last year, but at the same time it seems that we’re encouraging everyone to shoot and score and join in the fun. Lovely! Shame we conceded a goal though, but you can’t really complain when we scored five. Sung-Ryong complained quite a bit though, but it did look like a good finish, and at that stage of the game perhaps people weren’t quite concentrating 100%. Would have loved a clean sheet, but I appreciate this comment will make opposition fans dislike me even more so I probably shouldn’t have said it.
This turned out to be a bit of an emotional game. Yamamura revealed after the match that he and his wife had lost their third child at the age of two months earlier this year. I imagine this explains his muted but somehow still slightly joyful celebration for his goal. When he scored my first thought was that it’s pretty good when you’re playing a midfielder/striker at the back and they have that kind of finish in their locker for this kind of occasion. Credit to him, he had another good game at centre back. I’d love to see him have a chance to play further forward again some time, but the fact that we have no defenders and absolutely loads of forwards suggests that most of his match time this year will be at the back. Kurumaya had a good game too, which I guess means that he might play at left back more and suggests that Yamamura at centre back will be even more important.
Also somewhat emotional was Ao. Apparently he was looking at this game as his ‘last chance’ which is pretty crazy, as I’m sure most of us would consider him a crucial player for us. He has had a few slightly dodgy games recently, but no-one is able to perform at 100% all the time so I wish he wouldn’t worry about it like he has apparently been. To score twice in a game that you consider your last chance is a pretty good way to give your confidence a boost. We really are spoilt for choice in the midfield right now. Whether the fact that he scored twice playing a little further forward will mean that he will continue in that position is another thing. But as he’s done pretty well for the most part further back, I don’t think we really have to worry where he’s playing. Keep up the good work!
New kind of fun -
Of course it goes without saying that the Corona football experience is a pretty different beast to a usual Frontale match day. Not saying I haven’t been enjoying the games though. I thought at the start of the year that the experience would be so sterile that I wouldn’t really want to go back till I could shout and sing a bit. Perhaps the performances on the pitch have helped gloss over the quietness in the stands. You can’t help feel that we would have had some amazing atmospheres this year with the way we’re playing though. It’s a shame, but of course there are more important things going on than singing at a football match. The club are trying to do their bit to get some socially distanced fun going though with the usual guests and on this occasion a ball kicked into the stadium from a Frontale fan working at the South Pole. Some might say that there was some kind of camera trickery involved but all I’m saying is I saw him kick the ball at the South Pole and I saw it enter the stadium from the corner, (perhaps conveniently a corner that probably no-one was really looking at). It was an orange ball too, so that pretty much proves it had come from a snowy place, right? Not sure how Fronta managed to make it from the South Pole to Todoroki so quickly though. Magic, I guess. It was weird to see him take the penalty as usually he’s in goal trying to stop it. In spite of it being Fronta taking it Cabrera looked gutted to concede, probably as it was a nutmeg. Thankfully Komuzo was on hand to console.
I guess I’d better wrap this up now as I seem to be writing more about the pre-game mascot penalty kick than any of the actual goals. Perhaps I could do with a break too. And a break is exactly what we have! Until next Sunday when we face Urawa in Saitama. Not particularly a trip I’m going to get too upset about missing. Sure, it’s not far, (at least on the train. The walk from the station is another matter), but it always seems a bit lacking in excitement. Although right now I think we’d all be very happy to be able to go to any away game. But an away game with no singing might be even weirder than a home game with no singing and would probably come down to a red-raw hands volume-related clap-off between the opposing fans. I wonder if Urawa’s ‘great’ fans will give us the welcome that we’ve been affording to the opposition at our home games. Guess we’ll never know and I guess I should shut up before I irritate any more teams’ followers in this one post. Fingers crossed we can get a good result in this game and keep our good season going! After that, it’s Yokohama FC at home the following Wednesday. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
FW 30. HATATE Reo
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 19. SAITO Manabu
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for WAKIZAKA 46')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 71')
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru (on for HATATE 46')
FW 20. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for SAITO 71')
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for TANAKA 89')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
Good performances all round and some really good ones too. With that in mind but also considering I’m a sucker for emotional stuff I’ll give it jointly to…
YAMAMURA Kazuya & TANAKA Ao - well done to both of them for the goals, the overall play given the circumstances.