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Aahh...and so it begins
Okay, I'm exhausted. Just watched 2 games in a row tonight (had to tape the games). Reruns of other games to follow-up on during the week if I can squeeze any in... But, ah...how sweet it is when one can say "so many games, so little time"... I'm letting my hair down today to record my immediate rambling impressions of the following games (note, I am overbuzzed on caffeine and football drama so pardon the lack of restrain):

FCTokyo (v Albirex): 気持ちイイ!From the get-go, this game was just whizzing fun. (Well, if you're a Tokyo fan, which I am.) Tokyo was flying. Picking up balls left and right and then just zooming foward en masse like a row of torpedos (Ok, I'm on a small high, and small highs deserve a little hyperbole). Especially effective and inspiring today was Nao Ishikawa, who is no question the "face" of Tokyo. He created 3 of the 4 goals, and with characteristic sunniness put the exclamation point in Tokyo's many offensive manoeuvers. The first goal was a grounder from Ishikawa who had taken the ball up and in front of the right of the goal: a diagonal shot that skipped on under/through the legs of a number of Albirex and Tokyo players to find the left side of the net. continued
Most impressive was how the entire team was so sharp: going after the ball effectively when Albirex was in possession and then when in possession how the entire team moved with a group dynamism (I also liked a number of Fujisawa's plays). I was worried about putting on such an energetic showing in the first half, especially with the formation leaving only one defensive midfielder (Konno). Not only was that not much of an issue until halfway in the second half (when things slowed down a bit for Tokyo), but Konno was able to smash in a great long liner from outside of the penalty area for the second point.

The third goal began with a long pass up from Kaji in the right back, to Ishikawa who was at the Albirex defense line; he was able to get a last toe-knudge on the ball as he went down, and the ball rolled right in front of Lucas for the shot. The fourth goal was Lucas's own, an angled shot from near the goal line on the left side. These last two goals from Lucas were extremely helpful to the Tokyo defense as energy levels started to decrease, the rain poured down heavier, and Albirex found renewed spirit. Moniwa did a great job defending during several perilous moments. There are certainly holes to this team, and Coach Hara was careful in his comments after the match; however, I think it was a really spirited and envigorating first game of the season to watch. This team showed maturity in defense, energy in offense, and I hope they use this nice start-off to build a solid season (need to fine tune technique a little more? especially the crosses?). FCTokyo's next game: Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Antlers v Reds:

Hmmm. How to explain this game. Well, it was basically watching the two teams do what they do best. And worst. Reds came on strong as ever for the first 30 minutes. There were a zillion moments (okay, I'm falling into the hyperbole thing again) where a few centimeters to the right, or a few degrees turned of the ankle could have clinched a goal for Urawa. The Antlers defense and goalie did a solid job most of the time, but there were definitely moments where Reds got through and you could almost taste the ball go in.

But it didn't. This isn't the first time we saw Reds have this problem (most notable was last year's Nabisco Cup finals). The first half hour showed 2 yellow cards for Kashima as they suffered the attack. But at 30 minutes, the story changed. Ogasawara hauled the ball from the mid-left towards a waiting Suzuki who by sheer willpower made jumping contact from between defenders with a twisty turn of his head. The goalie had moved forward to intercept, and found himself unable to stop the high arching ball that fell just in to the goal in front of thousands of unbelieving eyes.

0-1, and the Urawa players fell into what I have always thought is their greatest weakness. Here begins my psych eval (please note I did not see the match live, and tv only captures part of the field so I may have deduced incorrectly... Urawa started to let it all get to them. After the goal, Reds players were seen getting very aggressive and Kashima players were going down right and left, including Suzuki who was being bodyslammed by Alpay throughout. Suzuki, this year maybe conscious of his responsibility as a team leader-ish bigbrother-ish figure, got very angry. So angry that he essentially stopped the game to yell at everyone, eventually resting on Alex for a few minutes (I'm assuming he addressed Alex because of his relationship with him on the NT though not sure; I'm only assuming mind you, that he was telling Alex to get his team to rein in the unneccessary fouls). Alex argued a little, then looked down and ignored Suzuki. But by this time the Reds team (especially its incorrigible defense characters Tulio and Alpay) had gotten their backs up. As Suzuki was walking away from the confrontation, Alpay grabbed Suzuki's jaw/face. Ah, why, Alpay, why? Did you not learn anything from the hair-pulling incident last year? Suzuki took Alpay's wrist in hand, and then did his job of neatly jerking and falling backwards. Instant red card for Alpay at 44 minutes. Tsk tsk. There was more moshing after this, where Tulio tried to get in a word or two, but things finally went back to the game. At half time there were more heated words exchanged (even the Reds coaches got heated up) as Suzuki apparently had not said all that was on his mind.

The game...almost forgot about that. Well, it was just a matter of Kashima playing the game they play best -- that of prioritizing the defense instead of going after a second goal. The more frustrated Reds got, the duller Kashima got. When Kashima had possession, they passed around but didn't do much with it. When Reds had possession, they continued to try and score, especially with substituted forward Tanaka itching to pitch in. Final whistle, 4 yellow cards per team, score 0-1. All players looked a little disgusted with themselves.

So what exactly was it that made the difference in this game? 1. Reds' Emerson was poorly; maybe joining the team on time for training would be a good idea next year. 2. Kashima's Suzuki got a goal and got angry at the right time; whether he was really that angry at the Reds players or he purposefully goaded them to unnerve them further (if this latter is the case, I'd be impressed by his cold calculation!) Suzuki ended up controlling the up and down of the game in his special and uncalculable style. 3. Reds inability to read the flow of the game; perhaps that type of leadership is still missing from this team; perhaps the very nature of this team carries the achilles heel of a certain naivete or the inability to see the game from an objective point of view and control what emotions get in the way? Who knows.


All I can say is, thank god that card is over. I'm glad that an "incident" like this happened at the start of the year as it gives both teams a chance to regroup and set ground rules amongst themselves going into the season.

Other game results that caught my eye:

Washington, it's gotta be you this year! He scored the winning goal for Verdy against Oita. He did miss a penalty, but it's okay, we love him anyway. He's a very refreshing type of foreign forward, and if I had to predict this year's top scorer, I'd say Washington. He has a great work ethic and natural physical advantages, has already shown he can create different types of goals, and probably will be the most consistent forward.

Omiya, you Big Squirrel, you! They did it: first J1 game, and they beat Gamba Osaka 2-0. New to J1 perhaps, but the members consisted of many veteran leaguers -- they were focused and patient, waiting for a chance to score while neatly cutting off Gamba's plays.

Okay, now I am near-death. Get me an eye-pillow, and a cup of hot cocoa...my toes are numb from cold...

Tomorrow -- busy day, but night will be graced by the Reggina-Fiorentina game on channel 8. Naka-Naka? Well Shunsuke sure, but won't know about Hide until the game I guess.[japan football soccer national j-league]
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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。