Kashima Antlers 6 – 0 Avispa Fukuoka
19′ Tashiro, 45′ Endo, 48′ Iwamasa, 57′ Tanaka, 80′ Endo, 88′ Tashiro
I wasn’t expecting Avispa to do anything except lose tonight; they were up against the form team in the division, away from home, and only 4 days after the exertions of the Kobe game.
What I was expecting was some sort of a fight, not least for the away fans who had traveled all the way up to Ibaraki and have supported the team really well all season in quite difficult circumstances.
The performance today was terrible. The first half against Kobe had been the worst I had seen this season, this match was worse than that.
The first concern for me was that having found a slightly different formation, and direct attacking mentality in the 2nd half against Kobe the team which took to the field was closer to the same one which performed terribly in the 1st half of that game.
Matsuura was kept in the central attacking position, and he was the one player tonight who I thought did quite well. Other than that Naruoka was playing on the right wing (for the first time in his career?), Miyaji came in for his first game of the season at right-back, and the two players who did most to turn things around against Kobe (Kim Min Je and Shigematsu) stayed on the bench.
The style of play was much like the ineffective faux-tikitaka crap which has been served up all season. Short passes building from defence towards one of the wings, usually intercepted along the way due to someone trying to do a flick pass behind their back. The result then being the opposition team runs direct at the big spaces left open and has a shot on goal after 3-4 passes.
This meant that despite having about 65% of the possession in the first half, and probably way more successful passes, Avispa managed 1 off-target shot in the entire half.
Facing hard-working strikers who help out in defence before being willing to run the length of the pitch to try and support an attack we have guys like Hideya, Jogo and Naruoka who will try a few 1-2 passes and reverse balls when they have the ball, but make next to no effort most of the time to try and get possession back.
I cannot imagine what it must be like for players like Shigematsu, Kim Min Je, and Yusuke to be left on the bench and see these guys who don’t seem willing to leave their skin out there. Shigematsu isn’t even an Avispa player and he works his heart out, picking up a yellow card today for having the heart to dispute a line-call when we were already 5-0 down.
From the players who started today only Matsuura seemed to be putting in as much as he could, and he isn’t even an Avispa player either.
Kashima were decent, they play incisive quick balls, direct and not too fussy. They weren’t they best team we have played this season even though they have inflicted our biggest loss. 6-0 doesn’t flatter them; in fact if they hadn’t spent a bit of time in the last 20 minutes with every player seemingly trying to score they could have had 8 or 9.