Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Vs Ulsan Hyundai (away) 14/9/21, ACL Round of 16


Ulsan Hyundai 0 - 0 Kawasaki Frontale (AET) (3-2 on penalties)

Down to two competitions! Out of both the Levain and the ACL within 10 days, (don’t forget that the ACL is our main target for this year…). What a time to be alive! To be honest though, we can probably be fairly pleased with how we did in both competitions due to this massive injury crisis that just keeps on giving. The world may be under the impression that the most highly contagious disease that is going round right now is Corona virus, but I think we have a case for saying it is Frontale centre back injury disease instead. Out of the four ‘centre backs’ we use all four have now been injured in the last month. Jesiel managed to come back after only missing one game but I’m sure 120 minutes won’t have done him much good. We’ve had the fun experience of another midfielder getting a go at centre back in this game, so add Tsukagawa to the list of players who is now susceptible to the defender injury pandemic. I really don’t know what I can write about this game as it was pretty dire. People always talk about games being a real advert for the competition. This was more like a public information film warning against the dangers of following or watching football. Any kids watching will now have surely been mentally scarred by 120 minutes of tedium followed by a competition where 5 members of both teams basically attempted not to fall down a hole whilst kicking a ball.

Before the game I was wondering if we were being a bit sneaky with our social media posts and who was pictured in them, hoping that we might have a pleasant surprise when the starting line up was announced. But no, everyone is still injured and pretty much everyone who was pictured and was eligible to play was on the bench. We even had two spare goalkeepers. Can never be too careful I guess. I guess the only thing of interest in the line up (aside from the centre backs, which wasn’t that interesting as it was the only two vaguely fit ones that played) was a front three of Ienaga on the right, Damiao in the middle and Kobayashi on the left. Apparently this was with the intention that we could switch to a 4-4-2 if we needed to. Whether we did or not, I don’t know, because all we basically did was give away the ball in midfield or hoof the ball up the pitch (giving it away). Ienaga always seems to go where he wants so it’s difficult to work out what the actual shape was. I have to say, halfway through the game I began to doubt even the limited tactical knowledge I have on football. I couldn’t decide whether it was an awesome tactical battle with both teams’ constant thrilling innovations being parried by the opposition or whether it was just one of the worst games of football in the world ever. Judging by Twitter, the prevailing opinion seems to be the latter. Four shots on target in total. Two each. For us that accounted for 16% of all our shots. For them it was 12%. So at least we won in that respect. We can take the moral high ground and claim that our beautiful high quality attacking play deserved more. Or maybe not. I think it was pretty significant that we made no subs for 86 minutes and then only made one change. For the last 25 minutes of the 90 we had plenty of players who could barely walk, let alone run and play football. But Oniki didn’t change anything, I guess because he didn’t think he could make any improvements. Or he didn’t know what to do. Or he didn’t trust the players he had on the bench (which is something of a problem as I can’t see many of the starting eleven being good for a game on Saturday away in Tokushima. Not sure if they will have to quarantine again). Or probably it was a bit of all three options. Or a lot of all three options. This is all skirting around the issue which is that basically, WE’RE FUCKED! (pardon my language). On Twitter it was said that this was a bad result for YFM as we’d now be able to concentrate on the league. This is kind of true, but you’ve got to think that going to extra time with a squad that is already close to breaking isn’t going to help us in these upcoming games that we have. From Saturday we have four games in 12 days. I would guess that we’ll see some unfamiliar faces on Saturday, but I would also guess that Oniki won’t change much as he never really does and he can’t really change much at the moment. It’s useful that I have covered all bases with those predictions. So, the injury and tiredness situation isn’t good. How about the morale situation? Hmmmm, maybe not great either… That’s only 2 wins in the last 8 games. So yeah… we’re fucked.

A few words about our opponents and an attempt at a few jokes. When looking at the massive empty stand with UH FC on it, I cam to understand the ‘uh’ quite quickly, it being the sound that came out of my mouth most often in this game. I’ll leave it to your imagination what the FC might stand for. This is all just a joke though as I don’t have any malice for Ulsan. Certainly they are much better at the dark arts that I think we are. There were quite a few tasty challenges and a fair bit of rolling around on the floor. The two things that really hurt about this defeat were: 1 - we lost in a penalty shoot out to a keeper who looks like he’s been down the Ulsan equivalent of Camden and got himself a few mini dreads and a bit of a perm and dye where his bowl cut used to be. I feel that it gave him an unfair advantage when it came to saving penalties. 2 - It also hurt that we weren’t able to go and at least get some travel enjoyment out of another horrible ACL exit. Instead we were sitting at home watching another rotten game on DAZN and they even amped up the rottenness by piping some ‘mild excitement’ crowd noise in to the stadium to really build the ambience. The fact that you could hear the managers shouting over it suggests that maybe it wasn’t actually that loud, and was perhaps even more pointless than we might have first thought. One weird thing was the fact the for the first time (I think) I saw someone get in the way of the main camera in the stand at the side of the pitch. You expect this on a high energy morning magazine type TV show perhaps but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it at a football game. This was particularly bizarre when you consider that there was hardly anyone in the stadium. I do feel some empathy though for the guy who had the whole stadium to stand in and ended up standing in front of the camera. Bit embarrassing. I guess contractually, I should also be a little angry about something, so let’s moan about the horrific penalty spot. Clearly Hasegawa’s Gareth Southgate-esque penalty (still rising as we speak. Pizza Hut advert on the way perhaps. All a bit niche those references…) was affected by the pitch giving way beneath him as he went to kick it. Not sure we can say the same about the other misses. And it affects both teams the same anyway. I was a bit miffed by the linesman saying Sung-Ryong was off the line for a save, the penalty having to be re-taken, only for it to be saved again, and then apparently not bothering to apply the same rule for the very next penalty by us, (which admittedly we put way over the bar, but it would have been nice to have had another go). Perhaps he felt his job was done. But yeah, I’m clutching at straws. There’s no way you could really say we deserved to go through and I can’t help but feel it would have been better if we just had to forfeit the game. We wouldn’t have had to bother with all the extra effort, travel, possible covid exposure, disappointment, general shitness and without all of these we would have probably been in a better place for the rest of the season. But I kind of expected this. The seeds were sown when Mitoma and Tanaka left and weren’t replaced, were watered by a massive amount of games and nurtured by a ridiculous run of injuries. We can lament the injury situation, moan about winning the group with a perfect record and still getting drawn away to the one other team with a perfect record, the horrible penalty spot and probably plenty of other things but you know, two shots on target in 120 minutes probably tells the story and surprisingly it wasn’t to do with any defensive frailties. If we manage to come out of this year with any title it will be a blessing as right now we look pretty out of sorts and like we’re about to collapse. Uh…. FC.

That’ll do. I wrote more than I thought I would given how terrible the game was. Next up, another horrible watch on DAZN. Tokushima away was the game I was most looking forward to this year but we’ve been denied it. Like we have been denied most of the good away trips (please, please, please let us be able to go to Tosu…). Corona football is a pretty disheartening thing. Of course Corona itself is much, much worse! But to be honest, I’m starting to think I will enjoy the games I can’t attend much more if I don’t actually watch them on DAZN and instead listen to the sound of the electro magnetic waves the computer is making instead. But this probably says more about my music taste than anything useful so let’s leave it here. Go (get some rest and at least a little bit of mojo back please) Frontale. 


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (Yellow card 117')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 21. ANDO Shunsuke
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 3. TSUKAGAWA Koki (on for YAMAMURA 111')
DF 15. ISSAKA Zain
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for KOBAYASHI 110')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 110')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for WAKIZAKA 86')
DF 30. TANABE Shuto

No way!
CHINEN (Frontale) 0-1
LEE C-Y (Ulsan) 1-1
HASEGAWA (Frontale) 1-1 (missed)
WON D-J (Ulsan) 1-1 (missed)
TONO (Frontale) 1-2 
LEE D-J (Ulsan) 1-2 (saved)
JOAO SCHMIDT (Frontale) 1-2 (missed)
YUN I (Ulsan) 2-2
IENAGA (Frontale) 2-2 (saved)
YOON B-G (Ulsan) 3-2

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