Thursday 30 September 2021

Vs Vi$$el Kobe (home) 29/9/21 J League match 28

Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 1 Vissel Kobe

Another come from behind win has sent us 12 points clear at the top of the table. Admittedly, we’ve now played one more game than YFM, but they always say it’s better to have the points on the board rather than games in hand. I guess this goes without saying when you already have a gap at the top. This come from behind win was a little different to previous ones though. It certainly felt a bit more comfortable than the Kashima and Shonan games. Although we shouldn’t gloss over the fact that Kobe were pretty effective in the first half of this game. Thankfully we weren’t awful in the first half and we really came out firing in the second. Our detractors will moan that we’re being handed the title by being given two penalties and an own goal but I can’t see anything to moan about either of the penalties from a rules point of view. And I’m sure Vermaelen couldn’t repeat his spectacular finish at either end if he tried. All in all this was a fun night to be a Frontale fan and you can’t say there have been a whole lot of good feeling inducing performances recently. Of course Kobe have been a team that everyone loves to beat since they began their apparently endless spending spree with their apparently bottomless pit of cash. So I’ll enjoy that aspect and the fact that we now need four more wins and a draw from the remaining seven games to seal the title whatever YFM do. Would be nice to take those figures down to three and one on Saturday. And even better if Shonan beat YFM on Friday night, maybe even 2 and 1. I’m going back to the ‘us’ and ‘them’ paragraphs for this post. Here we go.

Us -

We put out our full strength team. Kind of. No idea what has happened to the still absent Hagseawa (apparently he changed his agent last week, perhaps he will be moving on soon…) and Joao Schmidt who was also out of the squad. Perhaps this was with a view to our final game of this little slog of matches on Saturday or perhaps we can speculate that under Oniki, if you miss a penalty you get dropped. Well maybe we can’t as It didn’t happen to Ienaga. He had a funny match. Recently he’s really been off the pace but he was back to some good stuff in this game. It’s slightly ironic to say this about a game in which he missed another penalty. But he did make up for that by scoring afterwards. It is also amusing to note that he got man of the match in the stadium. It probably doesn’t happen very often that the recipient has missed a penalty in the game. However it normally goes to whoever scores the crucial goal and as much as we love a bit of opposition baiting, I don’t think the club would officially give the award to Thomas Vermaelen. In any case, good to see Ienaga having an impact. It was also good to see Damiao score again as it’s been a while. Even if it was from the penalty spot. Hopefully his goal and Ienaga’s good performance will mark the start of both of them playing at their best for the rest of the season. Elsewhere on the pitch, I thought Tachibanada did great. He goes from strength to strength with every game. And Marcinho seems to be really starting to fit in now. His pace made Kobe defenders look pretty stupid on a few occasions and won us the penalty that we graciously missed (in order to undermine the arguments of the moaners who said he dived). Our defence looked ok but a bit wobbly against the Kobe tactic. Note the singular here. I’ll come on to that in the next section. And shockingly when Oniki once again moved Taniguchi to midfield and put Yamamura alongside him in a holding two we also looked ok. I guess this was due to us not having to create anything and instead have to just mop up some Kobe attacks. Please don’t get any ideas about starting him there in another game though. Hatate had a good game which is what he normally does when he’s not at left back. And Sung-Ryong made some important saves as he does… all the time. Can’t blame him for the goal either. Can probably blame a few others though. So I’ve mentioned most of the team really. It’s weird that from the start of the season we had been trailing in games for something like only 30 minutes in 25 games. As you can see I haven’t looked up exactly what the statistic is, but maybe pretend I have and I’ve told you and it’s something like that. Now we trail in every game! Certainly fatigue is a problem. The players were still living out of a hotel in semi quarantine on this match day, only being able to go home today. Must be a lot of nights spent in hotels this year for them. This may also have contributed to our pressing being pretty slack in the first half. Thankfully we sorted it out in the second and although I have no idea where we got the energy from, it was very welcome. We still seem to be doing a bit too much shooting straight at the opposition keeper at extremely low power levels. I’ll blame that on fatigue too. I think we also gave the Vissel players a bit too much respect in this game. Yes, they have some big names but it would have been nice if we didn’t hero worship them during the game and instead put them on their arse once or twice. There was one lovely occasion where Tachibanada did just that to Iniesta and did it with a turn instead of a tackle. Very enjoyable and perhaps as significant as when Ao totally bossed him in a game a couple of seasons ago when he was announcing himself on the scene. Long may this all continue!

Them -

Vissel Kobe arrived flexing their transfer muscles by starting lots of their big names and having a few more on the bench. They also arrived with maybe the worst assortment of haircuts in the J League with a couple of very weak ponytails from Sakai and Osaki and the wannabe-Makino-but-not-quite-with-the-confidence-to-follow-it-to-the-very-gelled-and-flattened-conclusion Muto. To be honest, it was the two ponytails that pushed me over the edge though and I’m just using Muto to make up the numbers. It’s a shame that Yamaguchi was injured as we could have had another dodgy ponytail on show. Perhaps Mikitani has a sub company that makes Alice bands and scrunchies. There’s definitely something going on there as surely they can’t all have come to the conclusion that it’s a good look. The manager also shouldn’t get away with his all black suit and shirt and a big old pair of bright white trainers. I can’t think of a perfect comparison for either the haircuts or the manager fashion but I believe they all can be summed up as the ‘wanker look’. It seems slightly churlish to mention the big money thing so often, but while they continue to splash the cash to not exactly huge success, I think every opposition fan is going to find it impossible to ignore. Once again I should say that I have some sympathy for the real fans who’ve been following Kobe for years. At the same time I’m sure they don’t need or probably want my sympathy as they have a big old pot of money which eases the pain somewhat. It’s another cliche to talk about how Mikitani is just trying to recreate Barcelona from old Barcelona parts reassembled in Kansai. It’s a cliche and it’s also inaccurate now as I believe the introduction of Osako and Muto and switch in tactics has made it clear that the real aim is to make a Kansai Wimbledon, Stoke City (Sorry Jon Steele…) or 1990’s mid table first division team. It’s surely only a matter of time before they sign Rory Delap and can add the long throws to the long balls which were relentlessly hoofed down the middle to Osako all night in this game. This got them their goal though and caused the broken bodies of our defenders a few problems so much like the Wimbledon hoof ball, it is a brutally effective way of playing at times. They looked quite dangerous on occasion in the first half but then in the second totally run out of steam/fell to pieces as the game became a bit more one sided. Perhaps the absence of Yamaguchi was something to do with this, but given that the golden god Iniesta is in the team I would have thought they might have played a bit more interesting football. Not that it bothered many of the Frontale fans who oohed and ’スゲー’d’ most things Iniesta did. His hoof forward for the first goal was perhaps received a bit better than a similar one from an unknown player at a lowly team might have been. Of course this is all poking fun anyway so don’t take anything too seriously. Apart from the part about the haircuts and the trainers. That was deadly serious. No Kobe game blog post would be complete without a mention of what used to be a guaranteed goal for us every game, Iikura in between the sticks and his endless hijinks. Sadly, he seems to have more or less stopped doing this. Any ‘Iikura chances’ came more from the defenders repeatedly giving us the ball, rather than any attempted Iikura dribble ending with him on his backside just about to leave his own half. The Kobe defence looked very shaky I thought. Very shaky, but for the first half at least, never shaking quite enough to spill anything.

Any other vaguely amusing business -

Seems I don’t have much left for this section perhaps after putting all the haircut talk elsewhere. So I’ll just say that you should check out the highlights around 10:20 in the first half for an exchange of two of the worst throw in routines I’ve ever seen. Even though they were on the other side of the pitch to me, I could see they were first class stinkers and it was lovely that both teams had a go and showed off their chops.

So a win and a fun game to watch too. We are being blessed! Hopefully this isn’t setting us up for a miserable game on Saturday. FC Tokyo are pretty average this year, but we have spent plenty of time being below average so hopefully these two things don’t combine on Saturday. Clearly both teams will be up for it but maybe neither team will be up to it. And there will be an increased capacity as the State of Emergency has finally been lifted (for a week or so probably). More tickets will be on sale on Friday morning and I hope we can get some as we missed out the first time. I feel a bit sorry for anyone who’s paid a fortune for a resold ticket from a tout and now finds out that the capacity has been doubled. At the same time, I don’t feel that sorry, as if there wasn’t a market for resold at hugely inflated prices tickets it would be a lot easier for actual fans to buy tickets in the first place. Would obviously love another win, but that goes without saying really. Fingers crossed. After this game we can all have a nice little (not little) three week break! Go Frontale!

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta 
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for YAMANE 78')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for HATATE 90+2')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 76')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 76')
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for WAKIZAKA 78')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

A vastly improved performance from recent games for many players, in particular Ienaga. But I think I’m going to give it to the very important player who is…

TACHIBANADA Kento - so versatile and does a good job anywhere in the midfield or even at right back when called on. Improving in leaps and bounds every game. Oh, and yeah, he diddled Iniesta.

MUTO (Kobe) 13' 0-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 55' 1-1 PEN
IENAGA (Frontale) 85' 3-1

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