Thursday, 9 March 2023

Vs Shimizu S Pulse (away) 8/3/23 Levain Cup group stage game 1

Shimizu S Pulse 3 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale

The fun continued midweek with another dodgy performance and another defeat, this time away to Shimizu in the Levain cup. As we have another game coming up in two days I’ve got to get this out the way quickly, so let’s not hang around and I’ll get to the point without any of the usual meandering for the sake of a joke or a dig at someone.

I thought Oniki did the right thing by rotating a bit. On paper this was our second easiest game this year (that we have scheduled so far), away to a J2 team. If we weren’t going to rotate for this, then well, half the squad might as well start looking for other employment. Saying that, there was of course hardly any possibility of rotation at the back as most of our defenders are injured. Yamane was rested though and along with him so were our new tactics. For some reason, the predominately left footed Matsunagane was played at right back. He did ok, I thought, especially considering it was his first start for us. It’s a bit depressing to see him saying after the game that he needs to practice his crossing. It probably would have been easier for him if he didn’t have to cut inside on to his other foot every time he wanted to do it. Myogan got his first start in the Marcinho role and struggled a bit, but wasn’t really helped but our general disorganisation. And Kamifukumoto played for us in goal for the first time. His first action was to pick the ball out of his own net when we conceded our usual 2023 ‘goal from the first attack we need to defend’. He then had to pick the ball out again a minute later as we really decided to go to town on the whole ‘bad start’ thing. The Shonan game was the only one where we haven’t conceded in the first six minutes. It’s a pretty shocking stat, partly to do with the mess that our defence has been left in due to our constant failure to sign any real cover there. Shonan should feel ashamed that they couldn’t manage to accept our usual first five minutes gift. Similarly, any Shimizu fans who are basking in their giant killing should probably realise that pretty much anyone can beat us this year. It was a bit of a shock that their reserves did it so easily though. It just seems so simple for anyone to get the better of us this year. We get pressed by every team so hard that we struggle to get the ball out of our own half and even when we do get the opportunity to do so, we go safety first and pass the ball backwards, racking up some of those lovely possession and competed pass numbers. 

Amongst many nonsensical takes on Twitter, people are commenting that there’s too much of a drop-off in quality between our first eleven and our reserves. I’d remind those people that our first eleven have also been shit this year. It’s no surprise that our defences look dodgy when you consider that they’re changing every week due to injuries and suspensions. It’s no surprise that our midfield looked out of sorts in this game as the three of them have played a total of 11 minutes of football so far this year between them (and that was all Seko, in one game). We have three options for the defensive midfield spot in our squad, Tachibanada, Joao and apparently Matsui, although whether he will ever play there is another matter. So we started with Kozuka there and then later played Seko there. Yamada continued the trend of our starting striker never scoring. Recently it’s been a proud Kawasaki tradition so it’s good to see the new guys getting used to it so quickly. Some might say this result will come as a real wake up call, but then I think we said that about the YFM game and we sucked for most of the Kashima game until it all went a bit wild at the end. We’re way too predictable, and our predictable tactics don’t work anymore. I don’t know how to solve this problem and I just feel sorry for Oniki at the moment. Our defensive problems are putting us in the hole in every match. We’ve only been in a position where we’ve not been behind in a game for about 80 minutes in our opening four games. 80 minutes of the lovely not losing feeling out of a possible 360 minutes. The one time we’ve been ahead was at the end of the Kashima game and that was probably for not more than a minute. I’m not going to try to pretend that watching the games has been much fun this year. A lot of recent Frontale fan recruits are probably experiencing something that they never have before. Whether anything will change soon, I’m not sure. It feels a bit like a perfect storm of disasters at the back, but it’s not as if we weren’t aware it could happen and we really should have been a bit more prepared for it. Takai away with the Japan U20 team adds an extra little touch of bitterness to it though. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong so far this year. But to inject a little bit of reality and slight positivity, we’re not in a disastrous position so far in the league and this was only the first of six Levain games. To undercut that reality and slight positivity, I can’t really see where a change is going to come from. The players seem low, lacking in confidence, non-preferred players seem to be terrified of making a mistake as it could signal the end of their Frontale career. It’s just a bit of a mess really.

Next up Niigata away on Saturday. Which is nice, because it’s another fun away trip and one which we haven’t been able to do for a few years. I saw some people’s preferred line ups for the next game and was a bit shocked with the absolute insanity that some people were suggesting. I think I saw Tono in the defensive midfield spot in one. Another suggested that Kamifukomoto should start. This is a bit trickier for me as I don’t want to be negative towards him, but if there was a case for dropping Sung-Ryong it was probably clearer after the YFM game, particularly given that now we’ve just conceded three to a J2 team’s reserves. Bit of luck they didn’t play their normal starters! Kamifukumoto did do quite a bit of sweeper keeper stuff towards the end of the game, but the context was that we were desperately trying to get back into a game where we were trailing and were committing players forward. Wouldn’t it be nice if we weren’t losing, or even were winning? Just for a little bit. Let us have some fun. As we’re approaching the end here, I must quickly get in the fact that the ref was pretty rubbish, but just looked out of his depth really. He did give us a penalty though which looked a little on the generous side, although maybe he gave it for the pull on Matsunagane, rather than the kick to the head. He still was not that good though, but probably shouldn’t be officiating professional football games so I’ll put it down to lack of experience. Oh, and Chanathip’s finish was a nice one. That goal was probably the one bright spark of the game and perhaps our one good move. Miyashiro getting off the mark was nice too, even if it was from the penalty spot. Hopefully it will spur him on to great things. Nothing really fell for us in this game, (aside from the penalty perhaps). Lots of misplaced passes, every bounce fell to them. But perhaps confidence and form make these things go in your favour. We have neither at the moment, and really need to pick up some of both soon… 

DF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 3. OMINAMI Takuma
DF 5. SASAKI Asahi
MF 49. KOZUKA Kazuki
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki (Yellow card 65')
FW 30. SEGAWA Yusuke
FW 20. YAMADA Shin
FW 24. MYOGAN Toya

GK 21. ANDO Shunsuke
MF 8. TACHIBANADA Kento (on for SEKO 75')
DF 13. YAMANE Miki (on for CHANATHIP 80')
MF 17. TONO Daiya (on for SEGAWA 75')
FW 23. MARCINHO (on for MYOGAN 46')
FW 33. MIYASHIRO Taisei (on for YAMADA 75')
OH (Shimizu) 6' 1-0
SHIRASAKI (Shimizu) 7' 2-0
CHANATHIP (Frontale) 67' 2-1
NAKAYAMA (Shimizu) 70' 3-1
MIYASHIRO (Frontale) 82' PEN 3-2

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