Sunday 13 March 2022

Vs Nagoya Grampus (home) 12/3/22 J League match 4

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 Nagoya Grampus

The day of this game was a pretty fun day. All apart from the two hours we were actually in the stadium watching football. Once again we’ve come away from a match with a win which came hand in hand with a bit of a dodgy performance. Honestly, it’s a miracle that we’re top of the league at the moment. Although perhaps we won’t be when  the teams behind us have played the same amount of games as we have. All year I have been expressing some surprise at both how badly we’ve been playing and how we’ve been getting results. probably the only memorably good periods we’ve had were the first 20 minutes against Kashima and parts of the second half against Gamba. Perhaps it’s significant that we had ‘the reserves’ playing for the former and also that in the latter, we needed subs to change our fortunes. The pretty much regular starting line up that Oniki has been going with for five out of six of the league games hasn’t been doing the job. Whether this is due to players not playing well, tactics not working or a general decline in our fortunes and qualities it’s hard to say. Probably a bit of all of the above to be honest. There were some small causes for optimism in this match, but they were steamrollered by the usual dull and ineffective tactics and play. Also, many aspects of this game have been steamrollered by some pre and post match drinking. The morning after I woke up feeling ok but with a slight unease and disorientation which I attribute equally to the alcohol and the experience of watching this game. Once again, we have some work to do. Whether we will do it is another matter. I have very few notes on the match, only one thing about Nagoya (Leo Silva is a diver) and not much about the ref (giving yellows one way only, let himself get overruled by some Nagoya complaints at one stage), so this could be mercifully brief!

Let’s talk a bit about our problems. I eat too much, I probably drink too much, need to do more exercise, jump to conclusions a bit, can get overly emotionally involved with things. Oh, hang on, I meant Frontale's problems! Wakizaka and Yamane are still well off the pace and well off their best. I can’t see Oniki changing Yamane to give him a break and it seems that Wakizaka is the first name on the team sheet. I wonder if the significance of wearing the number 14 shirt is weighing on him a bit. Kengo, have a word and tell him to just relax please. Or Oniki, give him a rest for a game. The fact that we don’t have a game till next weekend almost certainly means that he’ll be in the starting line up again. Oniki doesn’t seem to want to rotate even when we have a packed schedule, so a week without a midweek game surely will mean no changes. Although there is actually one that he needs to make as Chanathip has picked up his fourth yellow so will miss the next game due to a suspension. Four yellows seems absurdly low to get a suspension to me, but those are the rules. I wonder if Chanathip suffers some kind of reverse big foreign player problem. In the way that if a big Brazilian gets fouled he’s perhaps a bit less likely to get the free kick as the refs have it in their mind that he must be faking as he’s a big guy and wouldn’t go down so easily, I feel that Chana seems to get a yellow for every foul as the refs think he’s so small that in order for the opposition player to go down he must have been fouled badly. Equally, the refs seem to think that he’s so small that any time he goes down, it’s because of his size and isn’t a foul. He seems to get everything given against him and nothing given for him. No complaints about his yellow in this game though. Didn’t see the same rule getting applied to Nagoya though, but I would say that, wouldn’t I? It’s a shame he’ll miss the next game as he seems to be getting better match by match. His pass for the goal was a lovely one, (although I feel that Damiao deserves a half assist for the dummy), and was one of many nice passes that he’s been trying recently. As our players get more in tune with what he’s doing I think we’ll only improve. His absence in the next game might give someone an opportunity to stake a claim for a spot. I wouldn’t mind seeing a big change in the midfield actually with Wakizaka getting rested too. Might make sense to start with a midfield pairing that we have used in a match when we’ve needed to up our game a bit. 

I’m not sure the midfield is the whole problem though. We had only nine shots in this game. Only one of them was on target. Thankfully it went in (Langerak, J League’s best keeper etc. etc. made no saves in this game). Our lack of willingness to shoot is shocking. As is our lack os willingness to try another other ways of approaching the goal rather than short-passing it all the way to the goal line. When teams come to defend, (as surely more and more will as they see through our cunning plan of doing the same thing in every game for about three years), we could do with someone occasionally giving it a whack from distance. I guess understandings take some time to build up but you might have hoped that something like this might have been worked on in pre-season. Also, it is only Chanathip for Hatate that is the difference from last year. All a bit weird really. The longer we keep skating on thin ice but miraculously coming away with the points, the more chance we have of falling in the freezing water. Which happened against YFM but Oniki just gave them a towel and told them to try a different pond with equally thin ice for the next game.  When Urawa trashed us in the Super Cup we were told that they would storm the league. They have four points from six games. Teams seem to be pleased when they lose unluckily to us but I think they are failing to notice quite how rubbish we are recently, and how us not beating them easily doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve played well. There now follows a short factual intermission where I roll out some stats comparing our first six games this year and last year. Don’t worry, this kind of useful content won’t last long and it will get back on to jokes and moaning soon. Points wise, we were only one win better off last year with 16 points instead of the 13 we have this year. But the goal difference was +10 and instead we have +3. Last year we had scored 14 and conceded four. This year it’s 10 and seven. It’s probably the shots that shows the real difference though. Last year we’d had 94 with 38 (about 40%) on target, but this year it’s 68 with 23 (roughly one in three) on target. So basically we’re shooting a lot less and a lot less accurately too, which isn’t exactly a great combination. In 2022 we average 3.8 shots on target per game, so we challenge the keeper less than twice per half. Which all might explain why my personal excitement factor has dropped from a 27.4356 in 2021 to a 7.3112 in 2022. In other words, praise the lord for pre-game drinking.

This has been a weird blog post. Some actually information in there. And mercifully short too! This game wasn’t perhaps as much of a disaster as I’ve made it sound but it was far from fun. I keep asking for a shake up but never really think it will happen. I think Oniki is in charge of the team (although Ienaga did appear to overrule him on his potential subbing), so I guess it’s down to him to shake us out of this performative slump. But the results probably mean that he might imagine that we’re doing ok. Of course it’s absurd to complain when we’re top of the table, but we’re only there as we’ve played more games and anyone who has watched our opening fixtures surely can’t help but feel slightly uneasy that the wheels are due to come flying off quite soon. Ironically, given our defensive woes, aside from the YFM game we’re not actually doing too badly at the back. But then again it does seem to be the case that either Sung-Ryong has a blinder and saves us or as was the case in the this game, the opposition also can’t shoot. Our next game is away at Hiroshima next weekend. These games are never particularly fun to watch and this time I’ll be doing it on my sofa the day after my COVID vaccine booster, so expect even more whinging next time. Or maybe we’ll find out that it is my attendance that is causing our dullness. Hopefully not, but whatever the reason, it would be nice if we could get past it soon.

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 15. SASAKI Asahi
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
MF 18. CHANATHIP (Yellow card 15')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki (on for CHANATHIP 60')
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for WAKIZAKA 73')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 60')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 73')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

I mean, I dunno really. Let’s skip it this time as it wasn’t exactly great.  

MARCINHO (Frontale) 25' 1-0


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