Thursday, 19 August 2021

Vs Shimizu S Pulse (away) 19/8/21 Emperor's Cup 4th round

Shimizu S Pulse 1 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale

Due to no away tickets being sold for this 50/50 fan split game in a neutral stadium (Shimizu’s home stadium) this was another game watched on the internet. I say another game, but I didn’t actually manage to watch the Kashiwa game as you may know from my last blog post. Sometimes I feel really disappointed to have missed out on an exciting experience at a game. But on other occasions when things are quite frustrating, perhaps it’s actually better to watch from home where you have the luxury to respond to the frustration in any way you choose. Today was closer to the latter. I guess we just have to hope that we will be able to get back to some kind of footballing normality sooner or later. This seems to have happened in the UK. But at the same time the UK government appears to have hung up a sign saying everything’s fine here and then firmly rammed their head in the sand ignoring numbers that are increasingly at an alarming rate. I’m not sure this will happen in Japan. But at the same time, as people seemingly get increasingly frustrated and fed up with the apparently quite useless measures in place here, perhaps we will get to that stage via public dissatisfaction rather than via government action. I can’t see things improving in the near future here, so I guess we better get used to watching online and perhaps I can use that as an opportunity to write less in these posts and get them out of the way quicker. I think we all hope that is the case! Anyway, a few points on a slightly frustrating game, but ultimately, a job done.

The one thing I know about the last game from what numerous people have said is that we dominated the match but came up against a keeper who was in the form of his life and seemed destined to let nothing get past him. For those who saw the last match, the first half of this game must have looked like history repeating itself. Their keeper Nagai has only played in cup games this year and has been on the end of quite a few defeats. But when we turned up at the Nihondaira he seemed to become supercharged and unbreachable (if that is an appropriate word, or even a word at all). Normally I like to moan about us not having many shots on target, but in this game we had loads of shots on target. Full credit to Nagai. He did a great job. If I have to moan about our attack, I’d maybe say that perhaps we were being restricted to shooting from distance, and the few times we did manage to get the ball into the box it was from a cross and we didn’t really have the height to beat a big Shimizu defence to the ball. Obviously I’m glad we scored, but I’m extra glad we managed to score from open play finally, as if we’d gone 180 minutes without finding the net the pressure would have built a bit more on us. There is definitely a feeling from some that we are there for the taking now. It would be nice to show these people that even though we have lost two of our best players we still have it in us. And it would be nice to reassure ourselves of that fact too. A quick mention of the goals. Quite how the Shimizu defender had the nerve to complain about the awarding of the penalty I don’t know. Even if Wakizaka did make it look a bit weird with a kind of out of the pool butterfly stroke body undulation and dolphin kick as he went down, (or rather as he jerked up and then went down), it was clear that the defender on the floor hand more than a handful of his shirt and was dragging him to the pitch. It was a lovely penalty from Kobayashi, which is not something I’ve said many times. Hope it gives him some confidence. The second goal seemed absurdly simple. Lovely cross from Hatate, lovely easy headed finish from Damiao. It must be frustrating for everyone who had failed to score in the first half to see a goal look so simple, but I think it was just good play all round. Well done!

Defensively i don’t think we did ourselves any favours again with our team selection. I 100% don’t want to see Taniguchi in midfield. You know this as I’ve said it far too many times already. At the same time I would rather see him there than going off the pitch on a stretcher. More on that later. I also don’t want to see Hatate at left back. (I also have said all of this many times too…). He’s done well there at times but I feel we are wasting him there when we have Noborizato, Kurumaya and even Kamiya. Once again their goal came from that area of the pitch. It seemed a soft goal to concede but perhaps it was a good move from Shimizu. There were acres of space for the finish though as Hatate had moved in, challenged and failed to win the ball from the cross. I don’t know if that is his fault, but it did look a bit too easy I thought. We almost got caught out in the same way later on in the game too. I don’t know if opponents target us in this area but if it looks like a weakness to us, I’d imagine the opposition have spotted it too. I’m not sure how frustrated we should be about them only having four shots, two shots on target and scoring with one of them. It’s good that we can restrict them, but it’s certainly not been easy and free going forward recently and sooner or later our inability to score and our occasional random generosity with giving away goals is going to get us into trouble. I think the problem is more at the front though. We used to score for fun, and now it looks a bit like getting blood from a stone at times.

Another awful ref in this game. Ueda seemed to be following the apparent ‘drop ball at every possible opportunity’ secret Emperor’s Cup directive. When Taniguchi got crocked with a horrible tackle as he passed the ball BACKWARDS to the defence, the ref played an advantage. Or perhaps he didn’t see the foul, but the commentators also seemed to think he was playing advantage. For a horror tackle on Hatate which could easily have been a leg breaker we got a free kick but still there wasn’t a card. I mean, refs are almost always crap, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But if we don’t get a bit more protection we’re going to be down to bare bones soon. Shimizu were a pretty physical team in this match but you wouldn’t have known that from watching the ref. In addition to these two rotten decisions he took the advantage to cram in another drop ball when a Shimizu player went down as they cleared the ball and stayed down as we attacked. It was clearly not a head injury and I just felt like he was opening the door to anyone seeing an attack approaching an under-prepared defence to just drop to the floor moaning and stop the attack in its tracks. He also gave a free kick to them for a foul on their keeper for a tackle made by one of their defenders. Of course goalkeepers deserve protection and need to be treated slightly differently from other players, but it seems like all you have to do as a keeper is go down after attempting to punch or catch a ball and you’ll get a decision in your favour. I know Tani is flavour of the month at the moment after his performances in the Olympics, but I won’t forget him whining and wailing when Damiao had the cheek to jump and head a ball in the net that Tani thought he was about to catch. Is there anyone else I can moan about?… OK, back to the post.

Taniguchi’s injury looks like it could be not so good. He tried to play on and then almost immediately went down. You’ve got to wonder why we played one of our two best central defenders in midfield in a game where Oniki was trying to rest some players. If we’re without Taniguchi for any length of time that decision will look pretty bad I think. Kobayashi left the pitch not looking great either. I think perhaps it was just some cramp from a lack of match fitness but he doesn’t look like he’s in perfect condition. Oshima is still injured. Maybe… I think I heard he was back running but we probably can’t expect him back too soon. Mitoma and Tanaka are gone. Tsukagawa has disappeared. I’m sure he can’t still be suffering from the crack on the head he got in the ACL. We had a Corona case in a player too apparently. Perhaps that person is the same as one of the injuries. Any way you look at it, we’re definitely quite a few bodies short. We have signed a new Brazilian, Marcinho, to play in Mitoma’s position which is great, but he has to go through the lengthy quarantine process before he can get anywhere near the team. I might have thought it would have made sense to pick up a few reinforcements from other J League teams. I was thinking Fujimoto would have been a good option but maybe Kobe didn’t want to loan him to us or maybe we weren’t interested. Anyway, I think the window has closed now so I guess we’re going with what we have. I think we probably have enough players but I’m not sure we are particularly open to playing some of them in certain positions, and conversely are all too open to playing others in certain positions. Yamamura is a midfielder apparently but Oniki seems determined to play him only in defence whilst at the same time pushing Taniguchi a good defender forward into midfield. Yamamura could also be used up front as the big man in the middle as he played there for Cerezo but this too seems to be out of the question. I don’t know what the reason for these and other seemingly set in stone rules are, but I wonder if we might need to be a bit more flexible in the next few months, particularly if our luck with injuries continues. Anyway, we’ll see I guess.

Next up, Hiroshima away on Saturday. Then next week I will weep silently as we play Fukuoka away on Wednesday and then Consadole on Saturday, thinking about all the exciting things we were going to do on our nice little away game double header round trip which of course is now canceled. Oh well, never mind! Hopefully we can play ourselves into a little bit of good form and wouldn’t it be lovely if YFM could slip up two or three times too! Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
FW 19. TONO Daiya

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (on for KOZUKA 69')
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for TANIGUCHI 23')
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO (on for TONO 69')
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for MIYAGI 69')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for KOBAYASHI 77')

KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 57' PEN 0-1
NAKAYAMA (Shimizu) 64' 1-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 74' 1-2

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