Football (Japan) Lost In Translation . . . Relaunched 2012!
Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
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Round 7 Sunday
At the beginning of the season, when Japan's baseball leagues were still in training camp, there were a number of different options for someone wanting to catch a game on the tube (not the subway tube, the tv tube). Well, not to make excuses, but it's true...I've only watched two games from this weekend, so I have to wait another day or two to say anything mildly educated about Round 7 matchups in general.

But by then it will already be Thursday, Round 8. So I thought I'd go ahead and start going over this weekend's results anyway. Oh, and I also thought I would start doing an entry on interesting magazine articles I've read during the week. Stuff you can't find on the internet for free, translated into English by yours truly (can't promise a great translation, but hopefully it will be worth reading).

Okay, enough chitchat, let's get on with it! Starting with Sunday's games first since they are more immediate in my mind.

Squirrels Go Nuts

Ardija 2 -1 Marinos: what a deserved result for Omiya, especially after the heartbreaking game last week against Verdy. The biggest difference between the two teams? The consensus seems to be the degree and maintenance of focus through the course of the game, particularly by the back line. Omiya scored first when Nakazawa's foul on Christian afforded them a penalty. This wasn't entirely Nakazawa's fault -- Marinos defender Nakanishi's lame backward pass to the goalie caught him hesitating, and the ball got picked up by Hisanaga who sent in a speedy cross to Christian. Nakazawa scrambled to challenge Christian in the air and ended up fouling. Though Marinos had been setting the pace and creating many scoring chances, it was this millisecond difference in focus that had Omiya 0-0 at halftime despite a barrage of attacks. Though Marinos caught up with a penalty of their own, the drama was at 89 minutes (when else?). Fujimoto dribbled up to the goalline and sent back a cross to Sakurai who took it through the Marinos defense and quickly swiped his left foot for the shot. It was a comeback game for Sakurai (he'd been absent due to injury), but I heard he wasn't playing at full health -- he had some pain. I hope it doesn't mean he made things worse for his full recovery...

Antlers Lock Horns with Saxon Blue

Antlers 2 - 1 Jubilo: Another beautiful afternoon for the relatively great crowd turnout Sunday for this classic matchup. Despite Jubilo's poor performance so far, Antlers' fans were not taking anything for granted. And they were right not to. Jubilo had a number of injuries (big one being absence of dmf Fukunishi), and put Fujita in omf. The strange thing about this game was that Jubilo really had their hands on the reins for most of the game. They were playing very actively, putting pressure on the characteristic slow passing of Antlers. They went after the ball in numbers, and Antlers had a number of very scary situations that came from both pressure up front and lack of focus in back -- the defensive players looked like they were caught daydreaming.

10 seconds into the game I was already working up a sweat of dread seeing how animated Jubilo seemed. And at 1 minute, my mouth was hanging wide open as Antlers fw Fukai faked out, dribbled up and around to the left and sent a sharp and speedy shot through the narrow gap between two defenders to goal right. Wha? It was early yet and Jubilo still had plenty of chance (and were probably doubly motivated now that they were a goal behind). But it was Antlers at 17 minutes who came through with another goal. After Antlers stubbornly passed and held on to the ball outside of the box, Fukai sped forward to receive the pass and took a powerful shot from the left -- the ball was deflected by the goalie and rolled timidly into the space. All Ogasawara had to do was beat Nishi to it, and tap it in. Jubilo kept the pressure on (and very high quality active passing) throughout the rest of the game, and Antlers were sweating it out something fierce. Jubilo's goal came in the second minute of the second half when Jubilo connected well and a pass back from the goalline to Ohta found him free to take a very nice low shot straight ahead to the very right of the goal. Unfortunately for Jubilo, they were not able to find the equalizer.

But a "great performance" pat on the back to Jubilo is not going to do the team much good if they can't get results. And Antlers did show their strength by getting the goals in the limited chances they got, but the players are not happy with the fact that they were unable to control the game or go for the third goal.

So Kashima is now the pink elephant in the middle of the room that no one in the media seems to want to acknowledge. It's rather funny. Seriously, no one wants to talk about Antlers, no one wants to discuss how well they are doing, and no one wants to create any buzz in that direction aside from noting bare boned results. Well, as I said before, the media (and particularly tv) is known to be very fluffy when it comes to sports -- they want to go for the attractive story, and so they will continue to speculate over when Emerson will be back to full power and so on. Part of the deal is that Reds is the "young new star" in the J arena; part of it is that Kashima is old news -- they have been so strong for so long (starting with the birth of J-league) and people are like, "oh, not you again". Part of it is that the football climate in Japan right now is one of hypeing up the offensive aspects -- it's easier to sell, and makes football look good to the wider audience. It is much harder to get jazzed over the esoteric strengths of a team like Antlers. And some of it, I suspect, is that all of the retired football players-turned-sportscasters who probably have a big say on how to produce their segment come from non-Kashima teams. We have a few from Reds, Verdy, S-Pulse, etc. Many football blogs have mentioned how Antlers has been given the cold shoulder by the tv media; I personally like the lack of hype -- it means the players are being relatively unmolested by press and can concentrate on their game! Let the pink elephant be.

(more to come later...)

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上記広告は1ヶ月以上更新のないブログに表示されています。新しい記事を書くことで広告を消せます。