Monday 28 December 2020

Vs Blaublitz Akita (home) 27/12/20 - Emperor's Cup semi final


Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 0 Blaublitz Akita

As we slide towards the final game of a long but actually short season, (eloquent as ever, eh?), these blog posts have been getting increasingly random and useless. Fatigue is setting in for everyone I guess and whilst it seems a bit ridiculous to complain about having to write blog posts when the players have been having to play so often, it does at times feel like a bit of a thankless and pointless task. So basically, apologies for the declining standard of insight in these posts. Today we will probably sink to new depths, given that as far as I can remember, this was a pretty dull game and there are not yet any highlights up online to refresh my memory on anything exciting that might have happened. Also contributing is the fact that now we can’t sing we are clapping pretty much constantly through the game, leaving no free hands to make notes. And leave those hands involved in the clapping pretty dry and cracked. I never knew the pain of the Japanese housewives (and it is always housewives not house husbands) in the TV adverts where even the slightest movement or interaction with anything sends pain shooting through their hands. Add to this the fact that Coronavirus has significantly increased the occasions where alcohol needs to be applied to hands, and therefore into open hand wounds, and this all adds up to an ultimately uncomfortable experience. Basically I’m going to pad out this post by writing about my hands and skip the actual game. Kind of.

It was great to welcome Akita back to Todoroki. I checked the lineup and score from last time we played them in 2016 and we only have four players left at the club who were in the match day squad that day. It is obvious to say that both Akita and us have had pretty good 2020s on the pitch. I suspect that both clubs were left slightly frustrated that their dream seasons were allowed to shine brighter by having another club at a different level almost match their achievements. Full credit to Akita. They did a great job of winning J3 and I wish them luck in J2 next year. Perhaps because of their great year this looked like it could be a bit more of a banana skin that a tie against a J3 team normally might be. But we do have a bit of a reputation for toiling a little against lower league opposition in this competition. Generally though, we do seem to get the job done and we did so on this occasion. I fact I’d say that this game was quite a bit easier than previous Emperor's Cup ties. Perhaps this is down us to us having a pretty good squad at the moment. Or perhaps Akita were still on a league winning high and didn’t really fancy their chances so weren’t going for it so much. As both them and us found out after sealing our titles, the pressure release from the getting over the line can result in some subsequent pretty ordinary results. Which is totally fair enough! Oniki seemed to be taking this game seriously though with perhaps his best available eleven selected to start. Although perhaps the exact best eleven still isn’t completely clear. Akita might have been put slightly on the back foot by the fact that the side they were facing contained eight of the 2020 J1 best 11. And when you consider that the other three on the pitch were Oshima, Damiao and Hatate who all have more than decent reputations you might have imagined that this would be something of a procession. It didn’t really turn out that way though, (here comes the actual match chat...). There wasn’t a great deal of excitement in this game. We never looked particularly threatened at the back and according to the stats I saw they didn’t have any shots. At the same time, we weren’t exactly free-flowing going forward. Our two goals came from a nice move and finish by Mitoma and a lovely free kick from Ao. Maybe that weird wall thing we do has finally paid off. Or maybe it was just a coincidence. If anyone can explain the point of it I’d love to know. We dominated possession but only had eleven shots, just over half of which were on target. Akita were hassling us when we were on the ball and doing a good job of on the whole disrupting us when we got near their box. However, perhaps because we were making a few chances, we didn’t need to get out of first gear so didn’t bother doing so. Or perhaps it was a game that most people imagined was a foregone conclusion. I have to say, I found my mind wandering on more than a few occasions during the match, so the ‘analysis’ ends here...

What else is there to mention? Perhaps the weird match day experience that comes from the JFA organising every part of the experience rather than the club. We didn’t get our usual intro videos or Kawasaki city song, the ticket sales were dealt with in a different way and the sections moved around a bit. The most notable part was the equal parts amusing and horrendous vaguely alternative driving rock soundtrack that went on and on and on for about 30 minutes before kick off. I can't say for sure if it was one looping song or several very similar looping songs. This was replaced at half time by something more ‘soulful and urban’. Both soundtracks felt like they’d been endlessly discussed by men in suits trying to select something fresh, funky, edgy and exciting to show their youth and dynamism. It definitely put a smile on my face though and maybe that was their intention! I should be less of a snob I guess. Oh and one other thing. This was Kengo’s last ever Todoroki match appearance. He came on briefly at the end of the match to tick that particular box. It’s a shame it wasn’t more exciting, but I guess they’d made a lot of it in his last home league appearance and at the lengthy ceremony, so they’d possibly run out of exciting ways to celebrate his great achievements. 

Whether he can finish on a super high with us winning the cup on New Year’s Day, who knows? Hopefully, that won’t put any extra pressure on us. Gamba will certainly be up for some revenge after we swatted them aside to seal the title. I would also imagine that plenty of fans of other teams might find themselves becoming Gamba fans for the day. If we flop and can’t win it will put a bit of a downer on what has been a great year, but I can’t say I’m that confident we'll do the job. Fairytale endings are great, but the whole concept of a fairytale ending suggests that it’s not something that happens the majority of the time. Fingers crossed though. I don’t expect we’ll roll out the goals and win at a canter. I’d definitely take a 90th minute own goal winner for us and a celebration muted by a bit of embarrassment about how rubbish we were. Alcohol will be consumed whatever the result I guess. One more game and then we can all have a lovely rest! Go Frontale!



GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG 

DF 13. YAMANE Miki



MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa

MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota

FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro


FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru


GK 27. TANNO Kenta 

DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for HATATE 67')



MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo (on for OSHIMA 86')

FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for MITOMA 81')

DF 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya

My Frontale Man Of The Match
In a blog post where I spent more time writing about music and my hands rather than the actual game it will come as no surprise that I’m going to cop out on the man of the match thing again. Pretty uneventful for the most part, but I’ll give it to....

MORITA Hidemasa & TANAKA Ao - Morita seemed very keen to score again in the first half and was as neat and tidy in breaking up opposition attacks as we’ve come to expect. Ao scored a lovely free kick and constantly delights me with the way that after a rare mistake he nearly always puts in 100% to win the ball back and start something great. Says a lot that out of our midfield three I’m mentioning them and not Oshima. Congratulations to them both.




MITOMA (Frontale) 39' 1-0
TANAKA (Frontale) 83' 2-0


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