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Weekend Nibbles
Aside from my fave teams' games this weekend, I have my eye on the Verdy:Frontale game... maybe it's unrealistic to expect the same incredible drama that was played out during this very same match-up only a short while ago in the Nabisco. But here's to hoping! I have a feeling Verdy will be less complacent going into the game than they were last time, and Frontale will not be able to score the same 4 goals in the first half. However, Frontale have been knocking in a steady stream of goals against solid teams so far, and it will be up to Verdy to be aware of the balance between their defensive care and their offensive aggressiveness. From what I've seen of Frontale so far, it may be wise for Verdy to score first, have Frontale catch up and tie, pack the defense and not allow Frontale to score any more, and then aim to get a winning goal in the last five minutes (including injury time)... This would hit Frontale the hardest where it hurts but is pure fantasy on my part...not that I have anything against Frontale...

Cheat Sheet: Blocking Washington
As for Frontale, one key aim would be to keep an eye on forward Washington. There is a very cool cable show in Japan called "Football Anticlimax" (JSports). Basically, they take a game, and anaylize it down to several key themes that reflect the overall strategy of the coach and players. They also interview the coaches and players about those strategies and key moments, so you really get a sense of how the battle was fought from the perspective of the players. The last episode was analyzing the Verdy:S-pulse game, which ended in a 0-0 tie. One thing I was curious about was how S-Pulse was able to keep a lid on Washington. And sure enough, one of the themes that this episode covered was how the S-Pulse defense went about defending against Washington.

The first thing that the defenders said was that because Washington is such a physically big player they had to find a different way to keep him marked. Ordinarily, a defender would keep close contact with the dangerous forward. However, in Washington's case, if a defender kept too close to him his body would block their view of the ball and the rest of the pitch. So the S-Pulse defenders kept him marked with a little bit of distance in between. The other thing they did was to keep the center area in front of the goal well populated. When interviewed about the S-Pulse defense in that game, Washington did comment that he had a very difficult time due to the above tactics. I wonder if J-Leaguers watch this show...?

Gamba will be meeting Reds at Saitama: Reds will be showing up Alpay-less, and Gamba will be showing up Miyamoto-less (well, the rumor is that he won't be starting b/c the coach doesn't want to fiddle with the members while they are doing well). With Alpay out to red cards, Nene out to red card, Tulio out to injury, Reds will have a rare all-Japanese defense. Both Araujo and Emerson have become papas this week, and the other question would be which team gets to do the "baby-rocking" goal dance first... Reds gave up a goal in the last minute of the game against Oita, and are at a low point in the team's morale. Gamba got a game-winning goal in the last minute of their game against Frontale, and are coming into a morale-boosting period.
[Japan football soccer j-league]
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