Sunday 20 February 2022

Vs FC Chofu (home) 18/2/22 J League match 1

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 FC Chofu

Well that was a bit better than the Super Cup wasn’t it…? Wasn’t it…? Hmmm, maybe not really to be honest. In recent years we’ve got out of our old habit of starting seasons slowly but I suspect this year we’re right back with it again. And the opening set of fixtures isn’t going to help us in that respect. After this season opening derby, (notice I’m denying the existence of the Super Cup…), we have YFM, Kashima and Urawa to look forward to in the next three games. Although it’s difficult to say how these teams will do in 2022, none of these look like particularly easy games. After starting our campaign against a local rival with something to prove with their new manager and new style we have another local rival who really hate us, finished second last year and also have something to prove with a reasonably new manager and perhaps a new style. Then we face Kashima who it is said might be a bit of a disaster at the back this year but will probably go all out attack (not the best news when we’re struggling up front and once again have hardly any fit defenders). And then Urawa, who we’ve already faced, (although facing was about all we did, there wasn’t any actual competing or playing going on), and who we came up very short against. Oh joy! In spite of everything we actually managed to win this game. But definitely not in style. In fact as far opposite to that as possible. I’m no fashion expert but I’d guess you could say we managed to win in some grandad chinos and a beer-branded polo shirt. But then again maybe those clothes make the victory sound at least comfortable. Ok, we won in a beer-branded polo shirt that’s two sizes too small, scratchy artificial fabric slacks that were giving us a wedgie and a pair or ridiculously stacked ankle breaking high heels. Quite an image I’m sure you’ll agree. So, no style and no comfort. It’s still very early in the season so you probably can’t say this was a bullet dodged but this did feel like we got off the hook. But we had a great opening 10 minutes! And failed to take any of our chances…

I’m pleased to say I perfectly predicted Oniki’s starting line up. I was slightly aided in this by forgetting about Seko. You’ve got to think that maybe he could be our latest COIVD patient as I think otherwise he would have been on the bench. Certainly he didn’t seem like he’d had any worse a game than anyone else in the super cup. It seems that Joao Schmidt is now starting his second period of Oniki exile. Sure, he had some problems in the Super Cup but I don’t think he was helped by the rest of the team or the tactics on that occasion. And there were plenty of other players who are a bit more established in our team who had equally bad games, and also did in this game, who don’t get the same cold shoulder. But hell, we won this game so let’s keep the moaning to a minimum… maybe. To be more positive, let’s talk about who played a bit better in this game. Sung-Ryong. That’s about it. He was amazing and clearly showed his class as the best keeper in the J League. This line was added mainly to irritate Langerak worshippers but will hopefully also irk fans of FC Chofu’s new keeper Slowik, who had the kind of game that was 100% predicted by some of the J League pundits who pay a bit more attention than most do. It was said before that he’s a great keeper but one not suited to passing or kicking much, (so perhaps not a great fit for their rumored new play style), and so it proved. Unfortunately we weren’t able to take advantage of that particularly well, but I suspect it might be targeted a bit more by teams who’ve done their homework. Or maybe we had done our homework but after the first ten minutes just barely got near the FC Chofu goal. Actually, that was probably it. So, an opening 10 minutes of us looking bright and Slowik slicing the ball off the pitch under not much pressure but also saving our shots. And then 70 minutes of us not doing much at all, apart from Sung-Ryong, who had to make save after save, mainly from shots from distance, including some absolutely great ones. Oshima did a decent job in the defensive midfield role, but in doing so, we lost his possible impact further forward. Taniguchi and Kurumaya looked wobbly in defence. Yamane and Ienaga looked to be on a similar wavelength down the right, but sadly that wavelength was one which sounded mainly like static and definitely not one in tune with each other or the rest of the team. Nobori had another dodgy game. Wakizaka was again pretty anonymous. Damiao didn’t have anything to do until his goal, which admittedly was a lovely header, made even more lovely by the fact that he beat ex-Oita late equaliser scoring Trevisan to the ball. Plenty of Frontale ‘fans’ on the J league forum slagged off Tsukagawa when he came on, but in my eyes, and admittedly they are biased eyes, I think this slagging wasn’t really deserved as it wasn’t equally applied to the rest of our team. Some of them are sacred cows though it seems. We need a lot of players to play a bit closer to even their median let alone their best if we want to avoid having a shocking start to the season. But again this is all kind of ridiculous, as we won this game. But the truth is, we couldn’t really have had any complaints if we’d lost it. Well, apart from…

Another crap ref. It’s a beautiful thing that the shitness of referees can unite even those fans who have the strongest rivalry. FC Tokyo fans may cry that their disallowed goal was onside. It really wasn’t if you follow the lines on the pitch, but it was uncomfortably close. To counter this, I’d say that Trevisan after getting an early yellow had numerous occasions where he should have had his second yellow but Kimura, a ref who wasn’t great for us last year, bottled decision after decision. And of course it wouldn’t be an FC Chofu game blog post if I didn’t mention that Leandro is still a cheating player of the absolute fucking worst dirty kind. Perhaps my feelings towards him are amplified by his apparent amusement at getting away with assault after assault. His tackle on Damiao that got him his yellow card was a real trilogy, with the attack breaking yellow card foul somehow being followed up by a hacking kick at the legs and groin of Damiao whilst he was still in midair and some apparent playing acting that he had himself been punched in the face. Honestly, just totally gravity defying arseholery, but we’d expect nothing less I guess. And you’d expect nothing less than for me to moan about it. Not being satisfied with this he then went on to injure Kurumaya by apparently throwing him Judo style, rolling him over his shoulder whilst he was jumping for a header. I wonder how long it is before he gets his next red for some serious foul play and then falls out with the new Chofu manager. Whilst I’m back on Chofu bashing territory, I should also mention the debut of Matsuki who was unfortunately not as shit as I’d hoped he would be. I think the numerous compliments on Twitter might be being wheeled out a bit too early though. Admittedly I’m obviously biased, but let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be when they notice the pure mindless evil that lies behind those dead dead eyes. I thought all he did, aside from one decent shot was foul and moan. I watched a 4 minute highlight video of his game on YouTube to work out just how biased I was being. It seems that him losing the ball, making a horrible tackle to get a yellow card and being clattered by Tsukagawa (cheers to him!) counts as a Matsuki highlight. Generous perhaps, but I certainly would have been happier if I could have just written here that he was awful but I guess I can’t. Also, I should say that I expected Chofu to endlessly pass sideways given their new manager but they seem to be adopting a more attacking approach which quite surprised me. Dunno if this is going to be the same when they come up against teams who are more willing to sit back a bit. And also dunno how much of this was due to derby excitement, but they looked a very different team from both last season and what was apparently expected from them under Puig. Maybe this was perhaps in some ways a good result for both teams. We have the enjoyment of playing awfully and still beating our rivals, whilst they get the moral high ground and lots of fuel for moaning. But zero points, so I guess it worked out better for us! After the Urawa game, I said we needed to significantly improve. I second that emotion. However, although it is early in the season, some results in this first round of matches suggest that there might be some decent competition at the top of the table this year. After the Super Cup, according to certain parts of Twitter, Urawa were the greatest team ever and then they went and lost to Kyoto yesterday. Chofu were much better than expected, but they also lost. Kashima scored a few and won easily but were significantly helped by some arseholery of their own from, what a surprise, Yuma Suzuki. In brushing off any FC Chofu grumbles about the officiating in this match I would say that the big decisions were referred to VAR and as diabolical as it is, surely two refs can’t both get it wrong. But then the Yuma Suzuki incident shows that it doesn’t matter how many crappy refs you have to debate the issue, it’s a real possibility, indeed likelihood, that a horrendous and embarrassing blunder will be made. But not in our match, eh?

Finally, a few words on what we might expect in the next match. At the back, probably a Taniguchi/Yamamura partnership. Actually this is almost a 100% certainty, isn’t it? On the bench, probably no defenders as we don’t seem to have any that Oniki trusts. With COVID cases in the camp but no-one sure who they are, we don’t really know who we have available. We do however know that we once again didn’t strengthen in defence before the start of the season. I don’t know how many years I’ve been writing this, but it seems like we’ve come pretty close to disaster in the that area in recent times and still we haven’t learned our lesson. It’s particularly surprising given that we knew Jesiel was going to miss a significant part of the start of the season. The good news on that front is that he’s back in the country and was at the ground on Friday. However, not anywhere close to playing as far as I know. Would be a lovely surprise if he was though, wouldn’t it? Apparently Kurumaya went to hospital from the game so maybe he has a broken shoulder (fans of wonderful music, check out the musician by that name. I’ve heard he’s amazing). It’s been suggested that Seko or Tsukagawa might be able to play at centre back, but wouldn’t it be nice if we just played someone who’s a central defender there instead? And who knows what happened to Seko anyway? As I said above, I can’t imagine he would have been dropped from the squad for tactical reasons. Our midfield still looks a mess too. Definitely some things to work on. And we don’t have much time to do it as we’re away at YFM on Wednesday and then away at Kashima on Saturday. Those teams scored 2 and 3 goals respectively in their opening fixtures which might make the whole creaking defence thing a bit more of a worry. But maybe the second wake up call that we got in this game might give us the kick up the backside that the first wake up call seemingly didn’t. Our players probably haven’t all become rubbish over the winter, but maybe they’ve got a bit rusty. Perhaps a slightly squeaky win over our local rivals will spur us on to get another win on Wednesday. Any kind of win would be lovely, a squeaky one or a massive earth-shaking one are both fine by me. Fingers crossed we can come up with some kind of defensive cover and solve the midfield riddle before then.
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (Yellow card 53')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 18. CHANATHIP (Yellow card 58')
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 3. TSUKAGAWA Koki (on for CHANATHIP 62')
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for WAKIZAKA 76')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for MARCINHO 62')
MF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for KURUMAYA 87')

My Frontale Man Of The Match


Nice work from Tono for the delivery for the goal. He did more in his 15 minutes on the pitch that most have in the first two games. But to be honest it could only go to…

Sung-Ryong JUNG - Just awesome. Loads of saves from long shots close shots and one on ones. Saved our bacon and this win was 100% down to him. Best keeper in the J League! Bravo!

LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 81' 1-0

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