Kawasaki Frontale 5 - 0 Gamba Osaka
We’ve done it! It looked like we were getting a bit wobbly but it’s lovely to have won the league in quite some style, 5-0 against the second placed team. Perhaps given the consequences of the result and my general lack of notes, the actual details of the game have already faded a little from my memory. But then again, if you really need to know the details I’m sure it’s pretty easy to re-watch it on DAZN or somewhere else. Instead, I will waffle on a bit and get excited about an achievement that everyone seemed to think would 100% happen, but I doubted right up until the final whistle on Wednesday. Better not to jinx anything etc. All I can jinx now is us setting a new goals scored record (having set a new single-stage season points record on Wednesday), but I’m still not going to count on anything positive happening. Just my way, I guess! By the way, I’m on the latest J-Talk Podcast where I say most of the things I’ve written here and some other stuff too so if you are interested or don’t like reading, you can listen to that here
The main thing to take away from this game aside from the title is the fact that we’re back to scoring goals again. After a couple of very disappointing defeats to Consadole and Oita which sandwiched a delightful win against Yokohama F Marinos where we shot a lot but left the actual scoring late, and an away draw at Kashima which was pretty low on quality in front of goal from either team, we’re back to scoring lots again. Five against the only remaining team who could challenge us for the title was a lovely way to secure it. I felt that Gamba, after conceding the first two goals found themselves in but of a horrible situation where they didn’t know whether to stick (with a two goal defeat and preserve some of their goal difference in pursuit of a second place finish and an Emperor’s Cup semi final place) or twist (and try to get back into the game and keep their slim title hopes alive but risk getting a walloping). In the end though, it didn’t really seem to matter what they decided to do as we were clearly smarting from an awful choking away at Oita and had a point to prove. Three goals for Ienaga was magnificent as we all really love him, don’t we? Damiao scored a beauty to set us on our way from a Nobori cross. Who knows how many he might have scored if we’d tried crossing it to him a bit more previously? And Manabu put the icing on the cake right at the end, also delighting the crowd and getting him off the mark in the league this year. Perhaps the most startling thing was that everyone seemed to be really keen to set up everyone else. Mitoma was unbelievably unselfish in setting up Ienaga for his hat-trick, which was magnificent. When Kengo came on, everyone was laying it off to him to shoot but sadly he couldn’t score. The way we have spread the goals around this year suggests that we are quite an unselfish team and on occasions in this game I think we were perhaps excessively unselfish, but as we had a handsome lead at that stage we were all able to just enjoy it. Hopefully this kind of goal scoring form will continue for the rest of the season and perhaps we can get a few more players on the scoresheet. (After all, only 17 different players have scored so far this year…).
The celebrations at the end of the game were slightly weird, but not as weird as I thought they would be. Social distancing and Covid rules meant that we were denied the chance to sing our songs and do our victory routine but it was still a wonderful experience. I really felt for Taniguchi, whose red card against Oita prevented him from lifting the league title as captain. But instead it gave Kengo the opportunity to raise one of the trophies and Oshima the other. Of course winning the league is a season-long and squad-wide achievement, but being on the stage and lifting the cup is something that is apparently restricted to only the match day squad. I hope the fact that not lifting it himself hasn’t upset him too much.
Honestly, it seems that I don’t really have much to say about this game. It’s all about the feelings I guess and I’m sure if you’re reading this as a Frontale fan you’ll be feeling them and if you’re reading this as an opposition fan you will have just vomited. Next up, a weekend of wild celebration. Well for me anyway. Hopefully the players will limit themselves to mild celebration and save the wild stuff for when we’re all finished. Hopefully we’ll carry this form on into the remaining games which start with an away trip to Shimizu next weekend which hopefully won’t be ruined by the increasing number of new Covid cases here in Japan. After that, it’s Sagan Tosu away, Urawa home for the last home game of the season and then a season finisher away to Kashima which has got to be the crappiest place to finish the season given their absolute disgust for opposition fans and the tiny allocation we receive. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess. For now, GO (CELEBRATE) FRONTALE! And then get back on it and hopefully make some more history!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for TANAKA 90+4')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 83')
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo (on for OSHIMA 86')
FW 19. SAITO Manabu (on for MITOMA 86')
MF 22. SHIMODA Hokuto
MF 30. HATATE Reo (on for IENAGA 83')
In a game where a player scores a hat-trick it seems weird to not give him the man of the match award, but I’ll cop out like they did in the stadium and give it to….
THE WHOLE SQUAD - yeah, bit lame isn’t it? But this game was emblematic of a season where the good performances have been so widespread that they all deserve it. Normal service will probably resume in the next game.