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J1 Round 3
Round 3
>>J.League 1st and 2nd division digest clip

Kofu's Bare celebrates goalVentforet Kofu 1-0 Kawasaki Frontale
VK: Bare 85 min
>>Bare goal video

If you're a Ventforet fan, you can be assured, your boys are doing well. And finally they got their first "W". The previous two rounds were played with good solid content, and really they could have walked away with a win had they had better experience. But perhaps the difficulty of the finish, especially against defensively more stable 1st division teams, was the roadblock. In this game against Kawasaki, from the point of watching the game (and I must admit, rooting for Kofu) it felt like Kofu had the larger portion in terms of possessing the rhythm.

The first half was a balanced split between Frontale and Ventforet, both sides exuding their characteristic style. Kawasaki's stubborn and tall defense kept Kofu from really penetrating, even after they switched to some creamy one touch football. They had to switch to the one-touch plays because Frontale was pressing fast. But it was really great to see a newly promoted team play so accurately and fluidly -- players being where they should, the passes going where they should. It certainly helped them avoid the pitfall of one touch football -- that of getting easily intercepted and falling to the mighty Frontale counterattacks.
Anything short of perfection on passing would have been Kofu's downfall against Frontale, but this game Kofu kept the quality up throughout the game -- and even more importantly, their fitness was apparent in their ability to maintain persistence and power around the ball for the full 90 minutes. What was interesting was that though Frontale were obviously making sure to keep their eyes on Bare from the start, they had trouble catching Hasegawa and Uruno. Partway through, Frontale manager Sekizuka directed Marcao to watch Uruno (and Marcao seemed frustrated and confused about his defensive duties); but no one seemed to be able to keep up with Hasegawa, who ended up with some close chances. The only problem continues to be the finish.

As time ticked by in the second half, Frontale began to show strain. They have had such a prolific first couple games that Kofu was cramping their style and they did not like it. Especially players like Marcus and Marcao were showing their irritation. With the rain beating down harder, the play become more a battle of wills, it was not surprising that cards would be shown. At 77 min, Marcao was shown off the pitch for his second yellow. After this, Frotale did not crumble, but it did give Kofu the one opportunity they needed.

At 85 min, Bare received the ball from Ishikawa on the left of the box, and from a distance of 35 meters sent in a curving shot to the far side of goal. If you had to point to one mistake by Frontale, it was allowing Bare to take a shot without anyone on him; however, given they were a man short, the strategy was probably to pack the defense with numbers instead. Kudos to Bare for a superb goal.

Though the score didn't move much, I had a lot of fun watching this game, and it is clear that the players and coach of the Kofu team are on the same page right now, a clearcut unity of thought.

Jef Chiba 2-2 Avispa Fukuoka
JC: Maki 44 min, Youda 86 min
AF: Yabuta 40 min, 70 min

>>Maki goal video
>>Yabuta goal video

The simplest way to break down this game is to say that Chiba had the first half, Fukuoka had the second. But the fact is that Fukuoka twice got ahead of Jef, and the home team was rather lucky to be able to catch up with the second equalizer despite basically losing cohesion. There was mingled booing from the crowds after the game. It was disappointing for both sides of supporters because both teams had yet to win a game.

Jef's formation was to care against the side threat from Avispa, and with the strategy working Jef did create several very very close shots. (One was a Maki header that was called foul and erased, which was a bit of bad luck.) Doubling the sides on both left and right. Abe was moved from midfield to defense (sort of a fore-libero between 2-backs Stoyanov and Saito), and new acquisition Krupnikovic (Serbia & Montenegro national who transfered from Bundesliga's Bielefeld) had his first start as offensive half under single forward Maki.

Jef were soon punished for the inability to score in the chances given them, when Fukuoka picked up possession at 40 mins and quickly moved the ball for a surgical execution of goal. Robert sent a long feed for right sideback Nakamura to catch up to; a speedy cross was sent in to meet Yabuta's head on target (and unmarked). With five minutes left, Jef woke up enough to finally get a goal to equalize -- Krupnikovic's pass to Yamagishi, who then dribbled around a defender and sent a cross in where Maki caught defenders on the back foot and beat them to the ball with his head.

But the momentum that we saw in the first half was completely gone in the second for Jef -- all cohesion gone, the players not moving forward, and none of the take-the-risk-and-run Chiba confidence. The biggest problem was in midfield -- Chiba's flair is in its tightrope-walking risk taking. They are not a team to stress balance in the normal sense of that word. Rather than balance themselves according to position or place, they play against the man -- sort of like playing with a relative map as opposed to an absolute map. And then they throw numbers forward to create advantage.

But in the second half, with Hanyu out (I think he was injured), and overall energy levels seeping out, the players got lost. They lost their position in relation to the opponent men and got caught in all the wrong areas. Krupnikovic is still much behind the team in terms of Chiba level fitness, and Haas's absence was notable. And rumor has it that Osim has been scratching his head over his player's fatigue -- the preseason training still affecting their energy levels, and though Osim has insisted the players should speak up if they are too tired to play any more (and that there is no shame in admitting you are too tired to run anymore), c'mon who are we kidding? The players would probably die on the pitch before admitting that.

Avispa gained their rhythm with the implosion of their hosts, and it was only a matter of time before they scored again. 70 minutes: a free kick from Alex to Yabuta again. And another failure for Chiba to keep a tight rein on things inside the box. Fukuoka's game was less self-determined I think than influenced by how Chiba was doing -- they had to switch to man marking to meet Chiba's man to man defense, and Chiba's one-dimensional attack in balls to Maki with players overlapping to support was a new type of team for Avispa. It took them a while to get used to their unique styled opponents. What was good to see in Avispa was that when they did get the ball, there was a clear cut plan to their attack -- and the quality to make it happen efficiently. And when Chiba started to lose their position, Avispa gained their balance and started placing the ball behind the Chiba sidebacks.

With Chiba playing so poorly in the latter half of the game, I was heartened to see them catch up, and just. Sato's grounder shot spilled out of goalie Mizutani's hands and Youda got his foot on it. Chiba was lucky to get this 1 point. For Avispa, disappointing to let the full 3 points slip through. This frosh team has scored the first goal in all three games they've played, but still cannot find the win. So the next step is learning how to carry a game through to a win.

Jubilo Iwata 1-1 Kyoto Purple Sanga
JI: Hishi 54 min
KPS: Paulinho 89 min

>>Paulinho goal video>>Nishi goal video

Well, if you want to be a little theatrical about the outcome here, one could say that the draw for Jubilo was almost as bad as a loss. Kyoto came with three player changes from their last round, and their 4-4-2 was given height up front by using Tahara next to Paulinho.

As you may remember from the last two rounds, Kyoto's biggest problem was allowing the opponent a very very early goal. So Kyoto were very very careful at the start of this game -- making sure to switch from offense to defense quickly and as a team unit. In attack, Kyoto did not want to take too many big risks, so their plan was pretty simple: long feeds to Tahara's post and Paulinho to move in response and go for goal. In fact, it did bear fruit with several chances created in just this fashion.

With Jubilo's new 4-5-1 system, we have seen that the biggest disadvantage has been the lack of numbers up front. The tempo of their attack has been improving, but what good is tempo if there is no one there to shoot the ball in? And against Kyoto who were defending with numbers, it continued to be a problem. Though Jubilo had more possession, they were less effective in the opportunities created than Kyoto.

Second half. Jubilo manager Yamamoto said after the game that he told his players when either of the sides were in possession for attack, one of the defensive halfs was to go up. In this way, Jubilo get some very good chances -- and ended with shots by Cullen and Nanami in the first five minutes. Then at 54 mins, a very smooth connection from Fukunishi to Hattori to Murai penetrated the Kyoto defense, and Murai's cross to the far reached Nishi for the goal.

It was such a nice start to the second half for Jubilo, that I expect supporters were finally getting comfortable to enjoy the game. Unfortunately, Fukunishi (who has been out with injury to his thigh and was not back to normal fitness) lost all steam, and Kyoto picked up their rhythm from here. Though they were behind, Purple Sanga did not rush their moves or lose balance -- they created good inroads via the sides while caring against the counter. Jubilo could have put the fear of god into Kyoto had they come up with something more threatening and dynamic in their counters, but alas they still lack the kind of swift surgical dynamism.

Jubilo tried to keep the pressure on in midfield, but it was not working at all, forcing the defense line to slink backwards dangerously. Kyoto sent crosses in right and left (and through set pieces as well), creating a hairy period for Iwata.

With three minutes left, a shot by Watanabe deflected off another player and looked like it would zing into goal, but goalie Kawaguchi made a great save. Jubilo endured several more minutes of Kyoto's increased momentum, running into the final seconds of injury time. It looked like Jubilo would escape with the win.

But with mere seconds left to the final whistle, Kyoto's persistence paid off. The ball thrown in on the right went to Saito, who sent the ball into the area in front of goal. Hayashi chest-trapped the incoming ball and dropped it to Paulinho, who finished with a right-footed kick for the dramatic equalizer.

Yokohama F Marinos 3-1 Cerezo Osaka
YFM: Magrao 13 min, 56 min, Marques 87 min
CO: Morishima 1 min

>>Magrao goal video
>>Morishima goal video

There is something so very strong and mature about Marinos so far this season. It's early days yet, I know, but I do see a kind of sophistication in this team -- and might be reflected in the fact that part of manager Okada's instruction to the team is to "figure out for yourselves how you want this game to be carried out". In the other corner, Cerezo are really fumbling around, trying to relocate their magic.

Welcoming Marques into their squadlist was a good move, and like Gamba's dangerous triangle (of Oguro-Araujo-Fernandinho) last year, at Marinos it is the Brazilian trio in Marques-Magrao-Dutra on the left side. It was this triangle that Cerezo manager Kobayashi attempted to challenge with a switcherooing of players -- moving Bingo from right side to right defensive half and putting Yamada (former Verdy captain) in the open spot. This was to care against Magrao while also creating the chance to get the ball past Dutra.

Things started off with a very early goal from Cerezo's Morishima -- Ze Carlos's cross from the left met perfectly with "Morishee" at the near post. But twelve minutes later Marinos were back on even footing. Oku's free kick to the far was tapped unconvincingly by goalie Yoshida, and Magrao found the ball with his head for the goal.

Marinos did not have the same degree of presence and dynamism as they did in the first two rounds, and perhaps it was the heavy rain that prevented them from playing the kind of passing football they liked. They resorted to mid-range shots, being unable to create much in the shape of attack.

In the second half, Marinos manager Okada switched Oku for energetic Shimizu, and Yokohama gained back some of their flow. At 56 minutes, Marinos win the ball away from Yamada and go for a speedy counter -- a cross from Marques to the far was met by Magrao for the lead. This was Magrao's 5th goal in 3 games.

At 86 minutes, Cerezo had a chance when Nishizawa got through to meet up one on one with Yokohama's GK, but could not finish with goal. A couple minutes later, Marinos ended the game with a third goal -- this time a silky play between Kubo and Kawai allowed Marques the honors.

I will comment on the state of Cerezo in the summary of Round 4.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-4 Urawa Reds
SH: Ueslei 85 min
UR: Santos 28 min, Ponte 32 min, Suzuki 62 min, Washington 66 min

>>Santos goal video
>>Ueslei goal video

It was a painful painful game for Sanfrecce. They actually had good rhythm in the start of the game, for the first 15-20 minutes. With an energetic midfield, they picked up the loose balls and prevented Urawa's players from playing with much freedom, there was much overlapping of midfielders, there was high level of individual ability along with the Sanfrecce unity.

26 minutes into the game, Hasebe received a pass from Ono and directly sent it forward for Washington to chase. It was the first true opportunity of the game, and Hiroshima's Jininho ran beside him and knocked the ball out. It looked like a fair play, but the ref saw Washington topple and called it a foul -- a red card for the defender, and the start to a six minute nightmare that Sanfrecce did not recover from.

The foul awarded Santos a free kick, and he saw the course to the far side and made it a goal, curving the ball around the wall. It was a big blow just seconds following their loss of a man. Toda slipped back to centerback, and he took the lead pushing the back line up. While the defense line were getting settled to the new circumstances, another blow struck. At 32 minutes, a lobbed ball from the midfield bounded to Omura. He tried to pass the bounding ball with his head to a teammate, but a weird bounce threw the ball off course, and the ball spilled backwards instead. It landed at the feet of Ponte, who took it for goal number 2.

Playing ten men against the 2006 Urawa Reds squad is not recommended. Sanfrecce have a good quality team, and they did not fall apart and did create chances -- Komano's cross to Sato, Betto's close shot. But against a team like Urawa, the work is triple. The players lost their stamina towards the latter part of the second half, and from there it was a Red tidal wave that rushed in on Hiroshima's defense.

For Sanfrecce who put on a valiant fight, the flip side is that their efforts did not find results and broke down instead. Not to mention losing Jininho for the next game doubles the repercussions of his expulsion.

Speaking of red cards, I thought it would be interesting to share that Urawa Reds have put in a policy that would fine players for unneccessary yellow cards -- eg, if they get yellow cards for objecting to referee calls, etc. The 2005 Reds marked the league's worst with 78 bookings -- of that 11 from arguing with the refs. Compare that to the next worst Nagoya 3 and Kashima 4, and you can see Reds have a tendency to get hotheaded during games. No surprise; opponent teams always play aggressively against Reds, and with the packed atmosphere at the stadium, the flames get fanned. Urawa shouldn't waste their time arguing with refs; they have what it takes to win the league with or without the referees' help. Unfortunately, from what I've seen with the refs this year, I am still scratching my head on many calls...

FC Tokyo 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
SS: Cho 50 min
>>Cho goal video

Shimizu have been rather overlooked by the radar this month, but they have been doing very well. This is their third straight win, allowing 0 goals. FC Tokyo are still floundering in the perhaps too-sophisticated maze of possession football.

It was Shimizu's game throughout. They played exactly the kind of football they wanted to play, and on top of that their defense was very stable. The focus of much post-game analysis has been on Shimizu's front line defensive pressure -- but more accurately it was, like Cho commented after the game, "we were told to block off the opponent pass routes". This led to the ability of other players to intercept more easily. This was pretty much what took Tokyo down. Tokyo were stuck between a rock and a hard place -- either hauling balls forward only to have them ricochet right back, or trying to cut a route through midfielders only to have their passing smothered.

Shimizu on the attack was also effective in their use of the spaces on the sides after distracting Tokyo to get lured to center. It was a strategy that was used many times, and if they had better quality in the crosses they may have easily doubled their score in the end.

Finally five minutes into the second half, Shimizu scored -- a corner from Fujimoto to Cho's header. After this, Tokyo woke up and began to play more aggressively, S-Pulse's press started to lose efficacy due to delayed timing. Tokyo manager Gallo substituted Kawaguchi and Miyazawa, and this brought some good movement and possibility for the home side.

But the hero of the match ended up being S-Pulse's Ito. After the game, maanger Hasegawa had high praise for Ito, who seemed ubiquitous in his ability to be everywhere he was supposed to be, blocking passing routes, delaying the opponent speed of attack, sort of the oil that kept the engine running smoothly. And maybe FC Tokyo could have scored had Ito been absent.


Gamba Osaka 1-3 Oita Trinita
GO: Endo 32 min
OT: Osmar 1 min, 50 min; Matsuhashi 75 min

>>Endo goal video
>>Osmar goal video

The thing Gamba was missing in this game was a certain stubborn fight. It was rainy, and the conditions of the pitch were not stellar for the pass oriented team, but on the flip side Gamba's skittishness around dirtier (and here I mean "dirty" in the sense of get muddy and fight, not in the sense of cheating) play forced them into a game of merely passing the ball around. The players were too careful of the slippery conditions, and in their carefullness, they were so intent on passing the ball without error that all sense of tempo and aggressiveness disappeared.

The first goal by Oita was a bit of a fluke, coming when it did, during a corner kick in the first minute. The ball headed by Osmar was deflected off someone else before going in. Oita allowed Gamba to possess, and a PK awarded and converted by Endo was all they could muster in their creativity department. Meanwhile, Oita did not allow Gamba the space they liked. Gamba fell to the beginner's handbook of warnings: 1) watch out for the first 5 minutes of each half. 2) focus against set pieces 3) beware Oita's counters.

Gamba allowed two goals in the first 5 minutes of each half, both from set pieces. And then as they were going forward to equalize, they allowed Oita a perfect counter attacking goal.

Omiya Ardija 1-2 Niigata Albirex
OA: Sakurai 46 min
AN: Edmilson 18 min, 75 min

>>Edmilson goal video
>>Sakurai goal video

Furtho did a great detailed game review on his Omiya blog, so >>Click here for the story on the Orange Clash. He is my Main Squirrel, so it's worth a visit.

Nagoya Grampus 0-0 Kashima Antlers

Sigh. For the first 20 minutes Kashima had control of the game, including some very close almost goals. But as the game continued, Nagoya settled down some and began to show some teeth. In the second half, Nagoya came back with a surge in energy -- manager Vergoossen had told the team they should look to use their open teammates more effectively. But their momentum was cut short when Kim was handed his second yellow -- an unfortunate turn of events when they had just started to get their groove.

Though Nagoya did not just defend, sending numbers forward for some risk in attack, they did adjust for their defense and shifted several players around, leaving Tamada on top. Two rookies Abe and Sudo stood out with contributions to offense and defense. But the lack of numbers made the attack difficult for Nagoya, having a lack of options in the build-up process. And of course more work for the 9 field players to share.

Nagoya's focus on defense did remain, and they denied Kashima's attack. Their efforts were rewarded when a foul to Tamada led to a quick restart that allowed Nakamura to send the ball forward to Tamada. The goalie came out to stop Tamada, and ended up fouling for a PK. It was Nagoya's to win; but the penalty was punched out by goalie Ozawa. Nagoya went after the win by putting in tall and speedy Toyoda, but Kashima were also coming forth with a last ditch resurgence.

Neither side could make use of the opportunities, and both sides had about equal shots on goal (about 10 each). But Nagoya played the better overall game; Kashima were making icky errors in their own half, getting intercepted easily and inviting danger upon themselves.
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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。