Vegalta Sendai 1 - 5 Kawasaki Frontale
Sendai away is probably my favourite away fixture but sadly this was another game that we had to watch at home. Given that this was the 10th anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake there was added significance to this fixture. We were Sendai’s first visitors after that tragedy and since then the two clubs and their fans seem to have a great relationship. Apparently they had made a video for our fans to mark the occasion. I hope we get the chance to see it sometime. They also displayed our big Frontale flag in front of their supporter section which was nice of them. It seems a little mean of us to hand them a tonking in return for this kind gesture but that’s what we did. As usual with games I watch on TV or DAZN, I find it a bit hard to get too excited. But the goal rush definitely helped in this game. I’m not going to mess around writing too much though as there are not really any unique insights I can provide from my sofa that anyone else couldn’t uncover on their own. I’ll do some bullet points but they’re doing to be short today. Hallelujah!
2/3 a new team
Oniki rotated quite a bit for this game. I wondered if he would, as it’s still early in the season and if there were ever a manager who likes to keep things as they are, it’s Oniki. But he completely changed the centre backs and the front three and tinkered a little with the midfield. Amusingly this meant that Hatate was still at left back which is the one change I have been suggesting. I thought Yamamura and Kurumaya looked pretty solid at the back. The front three were pretty good too I think. I’m delighted Tono got his first goal for us, and that Hatate scored, and that Kobayashi also got one (or two depending on who you ask). I was not delighted to see Oniki give Taniguchi ten minutes in the anchor role. Stop converting! Taniguchi started as a midfielder and converted to a centre back as it seems he’s much better there. Judging on this performance (and to be honest also every time he’s been tried there before), he really shouldn’t be playing in midfield. I don’t think his passing is good enough to play such an important position. Just my opinion. Tachibanada got a lot more minutes under his belt. I haven’t really noticed him much yet. Whether this is because he goes under my radar in the way that Oshima and Wakizaka sometimes do, I’m not sure. It’s great though that some of the new players are getting a look in. Hopefully some others will soon.
One brace and one bad half
The tradition continues. Whether this game’s brace was by Kobayashi or the Sendai captain and defender Hachisuka is up to the individual I guess. I’d lean towards the contentious goal being an own goal, but as the ball was going in anyway, why not give it to Kobayashi? I think both players would prefer it that way. Along with the usual two goals to one player thing we also had another go at playing one good half and having one slightly dodgy one. Although to be fair, the second half wasn’t a disaster, we just seemed to have taken our foot off the gas a bit. Can’t complain about their goal and they had maybe double the chances we had in the second half. But we stood semi-firm. I’m not sure if the dodginess was due to Oniki changing things at half time or more just down to us leading 4-0 and easing off. I will lean towards the latter as I am becoming a bit of a Tsukagawa fan already and I’m not going to say it was down to him. Perhaps there is some work to be done with working on some midfield combinations though as I don’t think we really have a plan B there yet and no-one is really staking a firm claim to change our starting line-up as far as I can see at the moment.
I’m going to keep saying I hate VAR in every post. I hate VAR. Nothing disastrous in this game though I thought. Definitely there was an unnecessarily long delay late in the match when the Sendai forward kicked the pitch and his teammates went crazy claiming for a penalty. Also the first/only own goal also had a long delay where they seemed to be deciding whether the ball had crossed the line or not. Maybe we should replace VAR with goal line technology? I thought they wouldn’t give it as the Sendai players were complaining about what they thought was a foul causing the own goal finish and given that it wasn't 100% clear if the ball had crossed the line. But it was. Still, let's bin VAR, eh? Hehe.
Any other rubbish, ... SNIFF
Kobayashi’s post match interview was pretty funny. In these days of heightened awareness of people sniffing or coughing it was amusing to see someone sniffing quite so much whilst being broadcast. Apparently it’s an allergy though, so hopefully no need to worry. It dominated the interview though. Much in the same way that if you notice someone’s verbal tick (‘you know’, ‘like’) it rapidly transforms into a meaning blocking monolith which is impossible to ignore. I probably have a writing tick that I constantly repeat in these posts, but I don’t know what it is. Let me know and I’ll try to iron it out.
And one other thing, was it just me, or were there some of our fans there? There shouldn’t have beenav given the state of emergency but when we had a shot I really thought I could hear a crowd noise that suggested brief excitement followed by disappointment which doesn’t seem to fit with home fans reacting to an opposition chance. Also, when Hatate scored I think he gestured to the area of the stadium where we would normally be. I wonder if there were some fans allowed on the condition that they weren’t shown on TV and kept relatively quiet. I wouldn’t be too happy if this were the case. I would have loved to have gone but stuck to the rules. If they were secretly allowed to go, for example to deliver a massive flag, that would be a bit dodgy.
Next up we have Tokushima Vortis at home on Wednesday. They’ve got two draws from their first two games. Miyashiro won’t be able to play for them against us. After that it’s Kashiwa Reysol at home on Saturday. Quite a lot of home games to start the season with. But given that we’re not allowed to go to away games right now, that’s not such a bad thing. Whether Oniki will persevere will this kind of line-up or revert to the previous one who knows. Maybe he’ll even try a mix of both. Or maybe not. Amazing analysis as usual. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 47. HATATE Reo
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento
FW 19. TONO Daiya
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 3. TSUKAGAWA Koki (on for JOAO SCHMIDT 45')
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo (on for TACHIBANDA 83')
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for TANAKA 90')
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAOFW 18. MITOMA Kaoru(on for HASEGAWA 72')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for TONO 72')
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 12' 0-1
TONO (Frontale) 26' 0-2
HACHISUKA (Sendai) OWN GOAL 33' 0-3
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 39' 0-4
UEHARA (Sendai) 58' 1-4
HATATE (Frontale) 83' 1-5