Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 Shimizu S Pulse
Everything is just wonderful! Well, kind of. After a few weeks off we were all rested up and raring to go and put in a magnificent performance… or maybe not. Well, perhaps we were ready and raring but had decided to save it for a later date. In the same way that we didn’t exactly sparkle on the pitch, this blog post will see me fail to sparkle as thanks to a bit of a hangover, my note taking and spectating weren’t at their premium level either. But both the team and I managed to get the job done. If you consider this post worthy of that description. Shimizu are a team who are in a bit of trouble, but the same can be said about quite a lot of teams at the moment. The four relegation places have added a bit of bite to the bottom half this year. I wish the same could be said about the top half of J2 which, due to a lack of playoffs seems to have become pretty unexciting for a lot of teams who are now just going through the motions really. Although it wouldn’t have been very aesthetically pleasing, I can’t see why we couldn’t have had the playoffs in J2 this year and gone with a 19 team J1 next year with four going down again and then got back to the leagues desired number of teams the year after. Anyway, this is all just meandering without actually getting to the point, perhaps to cover up how little I have to say in this post. So I’d better just get on with it and stop wasting your time. Not going to bother with bullet points today as there’s not much to say about anything.
A few words about the team selection. Oshima is back from injury! It could be very useful timing for us. He got a few minutes in this game and it was nice to see him around again. It definitely gives confidence to the less experienced players around him. Still not back are Hasegawa, who I’d say seems pretty likely to leave at the end of the season, and Joao Schmidt, whose absence is a bit of a mystery. As both of them continue to be absent I can’t stop thinking about them missing penalties in the ACL. Either they are traumatised by this or Oniki is angry about this. There is a third possibility that it’s unconnected I suppose, but in contrast to my lack of belief in conspiracy theories when it comes to some major political or public health issues, I quite enjoy chewing them over when it comes to football. I’ll just leave this hanging here unresolved… Damiao’s contract is up soon and he has stated he wants to stay in Japan. I guess this is good and bad news as you might have thought he’d say he wants to stay at Frontale if that was his intention. I’m sure he can get a lot more money elsewhere and maybe that is the issue. Perhaps he’s using vagueness to aid the negotiations, perhaps he’s already decided his future and wants to announce it at a later date. Who knows? There were a lot more Brazilian flags in the stadium on Sunday though and if he was in any doubt as to how much we love him, he won’t be now. He celebrated our celebration of him by scoring one of his trademark backheel goals. We haven’t seen much overhead action recently, but it’s good to see his other favourite shooting style is still around. The goal came from some nice work from Marcinho down the left. I think he’s getting better and better, game by game. I felt he could have won a penalty early on in the game but in this match we were destined to get absolutely nothing from the ref. The ref was Iida, who I have just realised looks a lot like a scratchily animated character from a children’s TV show from my youth (which I think was Spanish in origin) but I can’t put my finger on exactly who or what show it was. Please feel reassured that even if I could, the reference would be so niche that to the 99.9% of the people who wouldn’t have heard of the character the comparison would be as meaningless as me not being able to work out who I’m thinking of. Iida gave us nothing apart from a couple of yellow cards. I’m not saying he favoured Shimizu, it’s just that he was wildly inconsistent as far as I’m concerned, particularly when it came to dishing out the cards. Tachibanada’s yellow seemed particularly ridiculous as after watching it back about ten times I can’t even work out when or where he touched Kololli. I think Kololli is similarly unsure as after three or four barrel rolls clutching his ankle he started holding his head for the final few anticlockwise rolls before, in order not to get too dizzy, he threw in a couple of clockwise ones too. At least Hatate’s yellow was a foul. Admittedly a foul that had been perpetrated numerous times against us and gone unpunished though. Anyway, it’s just fun to moan about refs isn’t it?
Let’s be honest, this was a pretty bad game of football which is perhaps why I’m struggling to stay on the topic. Only a couple of shots on target from each team and a general lack of excitement or chances. There was a nice moment when Yamane attempted to lob the ball back in the danger zone and ended up dropping it onto the bar, almost embarrassing Japan’s number one goalkeeper… We had loads of possession but it wasn’t exciting possession at all. Slightly exciting was the fact that we had over 11000 fans in the stadium and there was a semblance of something approaching atmosphere! The special sections for people who had been double vaccinated or had a negative test result behind the goals were separated from the rest of the ground by some little barriers but I’m not sure how that segregation worked when it came to gong to the toilet or buying stuff from the food stalls. Or indeed congregating outside the stadium. I guess like many Corona virus prevention measures it is more about the visuals rather than actually being particularly effective. However, unlike many other countries and I’m thinking of the UK in particular, it does seem that there is very little of the ‘I want my freedom back! My freedom to not wear a mask!’ (Even though the inconvenience of doing so is pretty much minuscule for most people) kind of behaviour. So yeah, fans are coming back, next stop singing… maybe. It’s good to get the job done and win at this stage of the season. We now need a win and a draw to guarantee the title if YFM win every single one of their remaining games. Let’s be honest, the final whistle in their loss to Cerezo was perhaps more exciting than our game. Not saying I prefer to see our rivals lose than us win. Just that our 1-0 win with a bad performance was like arriving at the station 30 seconds late and finding your train is one minute late and their loss was more like seeing a Conservative (or conservative) politician get what’s coming to them for the rotten things they’ve done. The simile is getting stretched to breaking point, but the gist is that both are very welcome but the latter would be very unexpected in the current climate whilst also being just lovely! Presumably Cerezo will do the same to us as they did to YFM and try to ruin our day out in Osaka in a few weeks time. Hopefully it won’t matter by that stage…
Next up, we’re back at Todoroki on Wednesday from the Emperor’s Cup Quarter Final against Kashima. We really nicked the win in that game, so hopefully we can put in a bit of a better performance in the cup and not have to rely on a very late Miyagi wonder goal. After that we’re back at Todoroki the following Wednesday for a lunchtime kick off against Urawa in the league. YFM are playing at the same time, so if they mess up and we don’t, it could be a fun bank holiday evening. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento (Yellow card 55')
MF 47. HATATE Reo (Yellow card 45')
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 23. MARCINHO
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 71')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 84')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for HATATE 71')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 84')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 84')
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for WAKIZAKA 89')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
This is going to be a bit of a surprise for some...
TANIGUCHI Shogo - did a great job of being a central defender and didn't get moved into midfield to blot his copybook. After his first few passes ballooning off the pitch he put in one of his best performances for ages I think. Great work!
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 47' 1-0