Urawa Reds 0 - 5 Kawasaki Frontale
Given that we have a couple of weeks off after this game I guess I should have known that we would probably go with most of the usual starting eleven, particularly as we don’t seem to have any cover in most of the positions that we haven’t been rotating. I say no cover, but I guess what I mean is no cover than Oniki trusts as we have players who can play left or right back and three other goalkeepers, but still Yamane, Hatate and Sung-Ryong keep going. To be honest, out of the three of them, I think Yamane is looking the tiredest. Aside from a nice volleyed attempt at goal in the first half, he looked a bit off the pace, and with none of the turbo boost that you might normally expect from him. A goal glut in the second half (along with a few beers), distracted me from observing any defensive work in this game. Can't complain too much though if we come away with a clean sheet. Up front, we spun the rotation wheel a little leaving Damiao in place but bringing in Kobayashi on the right and Hasegawa on the left. Finally, after being seemingly unwilling to play Kobayashi on the right for what must be years, Oniki did it, and it went pleasingly well! I wonder if in the past it was more down to Kobayashi being unwilling to play there and now he has been convinced that maybe it’s better to play on the right rather than sit on the bench. I feel we really should have done it more in the past. It's a system that seems to play to both Kobayashi and Damiao’s strengths. Not sure where it would leave Ienaga, but he always seems quite flexible. Who knows really, but it’s nice to have some more options. Now if we could sort out the same thing at the back we’d really be talking!
I’ve maybe made if sound like this was a close game, but that was only in the first half. Urawa did nothing in the second half and still really look like a work in progress. It didn’t seem very fair of us to batter Rodriquez’s team so near to the start of his tenure, but hopefully for his sake they will have some patience with him. Probably has quite a bit of work to do though. You could say they did us some favours with some dodgy defending but our finishes were pretty nice, so let’s look at it from that direction instead. After scoring from distance again Kobe, Damiao had a go at it again from his own half before he remembered his true love is overhead kicks. For once though, he got it on target and it was a lovely goal! I’m slightly worried that his celebration had some pointing skywards going on so I hope he hasn’t suffered any loss that we don’t know about. Three of the other goals were also lovely finishes too. Quite how Kobayashi has been credited with the fourth I don’t know, as to me it clearly looked like he just chested it to the defender for him to bury into the top of he net. Lovely finish from him. I’ll credit it to Kobayashi below as that’s what the official verdict is. All of these scored against the keeper of the Japanese national team in the upcoming games they have in the next couple of weeks!
Which links nicely to the fact that I thought our players were getting a nice rest but some of them will be taking part in international games (perhaps). Mitoma, Hatate and Ao were selected for the U24 squad but sadly an injury in this game seems to have ruled Ao out of contention which is a real shame for him. Yamane has been selected for the main squad. It is slightly unfortunate that the two players who needed a rest the most aren’t going to get it. Although the manager of the national team does seem to dislike our players a bit and never really seems to want to select them, so maybe they won’t actually be playing, but won’t be resting on an international bench. We’ll see how much they are involved and hopefully they’ll all come back in one piece.
When they do come back, our next opponents will be Oita, who haven’t had a great start to the season, but who have foiled us on a few occasions in recent seasons. So who knows how that game will go. The next match is so far away that it seems kind of stupid for me to make any predictions about line-ups but it will be interesting to see if Oniki continues with Kobayashi and Damiao playing together. After all, it did click pretty nicely in the second half of this game! This was certainly the right way to bounce back from the Kobe game. Just took us a little while to get going. Oh, I didn’t mention VAR. Don’t think it was used, but I still hate it. Good luck to our internationals, play well and come back safely. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 47. HATATE Reo
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 3. TSUKAGAWA Koki (on for TANAKA 73')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for JESIEL 73')
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru (on for HASEGAWA 81')
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento (on for WAKIZAKA 90')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 42' 0-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 49' 0-1
HATATE (Frontale) 51' 0-1