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Round 7 Saturday
Well I still haven't watched any of the games from Saturday except for the Gamba/FCTokyo game, but I thought I'd start off with some comments in response to what clips I've seen.

Gamba 5 - 3 FCTokyo: In a weekend full of 0s, 1s, and 2s, this score is rather startling. Mostly startling because we knew Gamba would generally control the game...startling because they gave up 3 goals...statling because they got 5 goals. On the offensive side, Oguro was obviously the star of this show -- he struck in 3 goals, among them one of the prettiest trickiest goals we've seen in the J for a while: a pass from Endo to Oguro, who slowed the ball down with a tap from the sole of his right foot, let it bounce behind him while he turned 180 around to face the goal and left-footed a volley shot. Sort of a Marseille Roulette (that turnaround manouveur that Zidane is so famous for) but in the air... Oy vey.

Tokyo started off the game very nicely, with an Ishikawa-->Toda goal in the 2nd minute. The game stayed that way to halftime, but then it all became crazy in the second half. It started with an own-goal to Tokyo -- Yamaguchi took a shot from the right and the keeper Doi was able to block; Toda went to clear the ball with a big kick, but it bounced off the shin of a teammate and went into the goal. I thought it would deflate the team, but Tokyo were able to get ahead again with a dynamic header from Ishikawa at 50 minutes. Oguro, who had been threatening all along, finally got his first goal, a header off a semi-long cross from dmf Endo from the right. And then, a mere minute after that, a Futagawa through-pass found Oguro passed the defense line on the right for his second goal. (This is where I started to get a headache...) Tokyo kept hope alive when Lucas scored a header off an Ishikawa cross from the right.

But then the third goal from Oguro came, and it was certainly the kind of skillfulness that would shut anyone up. Tokyo were not able to score anymore, and Gamba added lemon juice to Tokyo's wound with their fifth goal. SIGH!! The thing that struck me most about this game was the momentary lacks of focus in the defense -- particularly still-young Masushima. You definitely felt the absence of Moniwa in these last several games. But mostly great job by Gamba. Tokyo's goals resulted from speed -- speedy running, speedy crosses and speedy shot. All the goals caught the Gamba defense without enough time to prepare, which is a Tokyo specialty. It's too bad they couldn't quite keep Gamba's goals from going in, but hey, this was just Oguro's day.

Sanfrecce 2 - 1 Frontale: From what I've seen so far in clips, Frontale did have some slick offensive moments: nice back and forth passing to break down the very tight and strong Sanfrecce back line. However, Frontale's Hulk was not at his sharpest and he missed a number of great chances. Sanfrecce on the other hand played to their strengths -- they actively put pressure on their opponents, and use long feeds and quality crosses to get their result. As I predicted (yay, I actually got this one right), Morisaki and Komano played a significant part in the two goals. The first goal was from a PK. Morisaki sent a precision long feed up to Gauvao who was racing between two Frontale defenders. The ball bounced straight up just in front of him and he caught the pass with his chest. He was just about to let it drop for a shot when the goalie came crashing into him.

Frontale got back with a beautiful long grounder from Nakamura that slid through the defenders. The back line was positioned somewhat high, and Kurotsu (who is filling in Ganaha's position up front) just slipped through and found himself all alone as his dribbled comfortably and took a shot with the outside of his left foot. Nakamura sent the vertical pass from a very strangely twisted position (his body being off balance and facing another direction), and it was too unexpected for Sanfrecce defenders to properly set the off sides trap. Sanfrecce were able to get ahead fifteen minutes into the second half when right sidehalf Komano ran up the side to receive a pass and then sent in a perfect cross to just right of the penalty spot; it bounced once right in front of Mogi who swung his right leg in a large arc for a very difficult volley shot. [japan soccer football j-league round 7]

Cerezo 2 - 1 Reds: The most interesting thing about this game was the comment by Reds' Emerson after the game: "We were overconfident, we had this mentality that we could win this game any time. We have to keep our heads up and overcome this difficult period by becoming adults/mature." I apologize, I really haven't had time to get a lot of background/research on Cerezo, but from what I've seen it looks like Cerezo came with a very definite game plan which helped them focus. They took advantage of the chances they got -- mostly due to momentary lapses and slowness in the Reds defense. The first goal was a short vertical pass from Furuhashi a few meters outside of the box. Tulio, who was marking Nishizawa, turned and tried to catchup with the ball but was no where near it when Nishizawa took the shot. The second goal from Cerezo came off a cross from Shimomura -- he took the ball up the right side and faked out Hasebe. The ball went right to the center a few meters in front of the goalie to an unmarked Nishizawa who headed it in. There were five Reds players sort of ball-watching inside the penalty area against two Cerezo players. And yet Nishizawa was able to stand there for the ball to come to him without anyone challenging him.

Reds were able to save some face when a free kick from captain Yamada met Tulio on the far side, the ball crossed back and Yokoyama headed it in. Reds had some great great buildup for the finish -- the goals just never came.
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