Kawasaki Frontale 4 - 0 Beijing Guoan
Well the group stage is over. And to be honest it’s come at the right time as I am getting a bit fed up with writing blog posts on games I’ve watched online. And a bit fed up with the world surrounding football to be honest. Seeing some of the horrendous online and out of the stadium stuff that went on around the Euro 2020 final it’s probably natural to feel a bit of distaste with all things football right now. Honestly, it has made me despair. Not for any reasons connected to what happened on the pitch but with plenty of things that surround the game and also run through society. It seems slightly unfair to even associate an ACL game in an empty stadium with these matters as effectively the only thing they have in common is the sport that’s being played on the pitch. But at the same time, it’s hard to write anything connected to football today without mentioning the absolute disgust I have for online and offline racist abuse, and the fighting and smashing stuff up in the streets. I don’t think it’s strictly a football problem. But obviously football seems to draw idiots like moths to a flame. The only problem is that they don’t get burnt up and perish, but instead continue to sling their ignorance around the internet and in person out in society too. I guess the fact is that in daily life we are surrounded by people with nasty thoughts and tiny narrow minds who feel that a football game is a good opportunity to spout the shabby contents of their poison-filled peanut brain, most of which has been planted there by Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and the majority of the Conservative party and other right wing politicians. Guess there must be some money to be made in pushing racism as that normally seems to be the only thing that motivates them. Obviously not everyone who supports England or any football team is part of this idiotic group. However everyone is affected by it. And the fact is that even if it is a tiny minority of football fans who are racist idiots and/or thugs, there is a significant number of racist idiots and/or thugs in society who see football as a good way of spouting their toxic small mindedness. I have no idea how, or even if, it can be done, but we need to eliminate this from the game and eliminate this from society. I fear that while we have politicians in power fostering a political climate that thinks it is ok to mock and demonise the less fortunate, the different, the marginalised, the best possible outcome could be that it is just driven underground to fester rather than be eliminated. Which isn’t exactly a good outcome. Anyway, the last thing you need to hear in this post is me moaning about racist idiocy in England as there are thankfully no shortage of people doing it much more eloquently at the moment so I’ll get on with the post and get it out of the way as quickly as possible.
We’re through with a perfect record and have been rewarded with a one leg away tie against last year’s champions who also finished the group stages with a perfect record. Seems a bit of a rough draw and perhaps suggested that we shouldn’t have tried so hard. Any competition where to understand the draw you need a table of possible and impossible options seems like it might perhaps be a bit overcomplicated. But the fact that there were five groups and four games in the next round makes it inevitable that two group winners will have to play each other. If you want to win the competition you have to beat the best teams though, so I suppose in that respect it doesn’t really matter if you play the defending champions in the first knockout round or the final but it’s a bit disappointing to not have even got a home draw.
This was quite an exciting game as far as I can remember. The big changes in the starting line up were enough to get me quite enthusiastic about this match. First starts for Kamiya and Miyagi, and first pitch time for Tanabe from the bench. Kamiya had a go at left back and at centre back and looked pretty good in both spots I thought. I must admit that there are three factors which might be skewing this slightly. Namely, first that I had consumed a few beers before the game, second, that I’m biased towards Kamiya as I have his towel, and thirdly, that perhaps the opposition weren’t up to much. I also thought Kozuka looked pretty good in midfield and his two goals and general performance would have been a good confidence boost for him as he’s so far had a few wobbly performances at the start of his Frontale career. Zain also had a good game I thought and looked a real danger going forward. I was surprised to see Tanabe at left back rather than centre back, but I guess Oniki gave Kamiya his first taste of the action in a similar way, perhaps feeling that there is less pressure there than in the middle. I had no idea both players were quite so attacking though. But I guess that makes sense as most of the players we seem to sign are. Miyagi marked his first start with his first goal and was pretty bright I thought. I’m hoping some of Mitoma’s magic will have rubbed off on him. In recent years we’ve been absolutely overflowing with attacking left sided players but now we seem to only have Hasegawa whose can count that as his preferred position. Miyagi played this game on the right, but his previous appearance was on the left so I guess he will be providing back up for both spots. I guess Hatate can play on the left too. I wonder if we will spend any of the money we have got for Mitoma on any kind of reinforcements. I’m inclined to say we don’t particularly need to, but it only takes a couple of injuries and things could start looking a bit shaky. It’s unfortunate to lose two of your best players within a few weeks of each other but I guess we knew it was going to happen, so hopefully Oniki has something planned.
Few stupid observations to round this off. Not only do the 1 and 7 look the same in the ACL kit font but also the 5 and 6 do. I’d suggest that if four out of the ten digits are easily confused it might suggest that the font is a failure. It was nice to finally see the Lokomotiv stadium in daylight. They seemed to have changed the camera angle slightly though as I remember in previous games being enthralled by the fact that the different areas of the stadium had SEKTOR __ emblazoned on them. There’s something slightly intoxicating about a word spelt slightly different from the English version, particularly if it has been Eastern European/Eurasian-ed up with a K where you’d expect a C. Guess the same applies to the stadium name. Kan you get the KonZept that I’m trying to Kreate as a piKtur in your Kranium? Hmmmmm….. Oh, and it was nice to see Chinen score again, particularly given that he made the assist too by passing the ball to himself via both posts before he put it away. Skill shot!
Next up Shimizu away which is something of a blessing as it’s probably one of the closer away games we could have got to follow up our central Asian odyssey. Tanaka’s gone, Mitoma’s gone. Hatate will probably be with the Olympic team. Kobayashi is injured. And we’ll probably be running on fumes after a busy schedule on the pitch and on airplanes. YFM have sadly not slipped up in any of their games they’ve had to make up so the gap has been cut a bit. There’s not really any reason why we should be worried… yet. A dodgy game or two could soon change that feeling though, so hopefully we’ll be back and firing this weekend. It’s always a fun away trip and thankfully we haven’t been denied it in what is another weird Corona ravaged season. Go Frontale!