Archive for April 2012
We can’t secure a play-off place in the next few games, but we can probably lose one.
As Golden Week starts we have 4 games in 8 days after losing to Tokyo Verdy on Friday, our first home defeat of the season.
It leaves us in 13th in the table below teams like Giravanz and Fagiano, despite having one of the best scoring records in the division.
Ventforet have looked like they might be the best team in the division at times this season, so things are not going to get any easier.
The game is calling out for Maeda to try and change things with our problem area – midfield. I’ve been calling for a middle 3 for weeks, and a quick look at 2ch shows that others are thinking the same.
After Omata didn’t do that well against Tokyo I think Kim might come back in at left-back, there were times when Sho was looking up to the left wing and seeing nothing. Other than that I think defence may stay the same, playing Oh would be too attacking.
I really want midfield changed with 5 across the middle with Sueyoshi, Suzuki and Okada as a central 3. This will give us the stability to launch attacks as Jogo and Sho can use the width to attack. I don’t expect this to happen with Suzuki and Sueyoshi likely to start and get swamped again.
As striker Sakata is certain to start, Yutaka may see himself get dropped. Either in favour of an extra midfielder, or for Samir or Nishida to come in.
I’d love to see Ishizu on the bench, his energy and enthusiasm is very useful.
Ventforet are likely to be playing with their strongest team with danger-man Davy up front needing to be closely watched. He is big and skillful, and going to be a big handful on crosses into the box. It may be easier to try to limit his supply line than mark him.
Trying to get balls to him is Avispa old-boy Genki Nagasato. He left Avispa under something of a cloud, and hasn’t played well against us since. Today may be his chance to cause problems, and is another erason to include Kim to combat his pace.
Ventforet 2 – 0 Avispa
I don’t think Maeda will change the midfield problem, despite it being a glaring problem and us being 13th in the table.
This will see whoever it is in midfield being out-numbered and too many balls being delivered to Davy.
Kamiyama – 5 Should have done better with the 1st and 2nd goals, and his goal kicking was terrible; going straight out of play half the time.
Omata – 6 In the team for his perceived better defence, didn’t look that solid today and rarely gets forward, although he did supply the assist.
Wada – 5 Offered little in defence or attack.
Hatamoto – 6 Tackles really well when in one-on-one situations, and finds a way to get ahead of his man, but was caught ball watching and out of position a couple of times.
Koga – 7 The pick of our defence, and still trying to organise the team well.
Naruoka – 6 Need to sort his position out. Was coming inside all the time in this game, which meant there was nothing on the left. very good when in defensive situations again.
Suzuki – 6 Was trying to play forward balls, and should have had an assist in the 1st half, but not dynamic enough for a middle 2 against decent opposition.
Sueyoshi – 5 When we are losing midfield he needs to start tackling hard to disrupt the other team.
Jogo – 7 Looking more and more like a right midfielder, but was being asked to do too much at times in this game.
Yutaka – 4 We aim for him with every goal kick, he rarely wins the ball. He has had more shots than anyone (except Davy) in the division (27) but only scored twice.
Sakata – 8 The worst thing about this season is that Sakata is really good, and exactly the striker we have needed for at least 2 years. The way we are playing I can’t see him staying for longer than a year, he can’t do anything more and we are bottom half of J2.
Maeda – 4 Must address the midfield problem in games against the better opposition, he has a chance to do so with Ventforet next. If he doesn’t change things soon then we will miss out on the play-offs, if he does change we can aim for 6th.
Quite a few clear chances which I had totally forgotten about due to the large quantities of SPARX I was drinking.
Pretty poor defending from Avispa, and a terrible miss from Tokyo’s #17, who was otherwise very good in defence.
Avispa Fukuoka 1 – 3 Tokyo Verdy
22′ Abe, 53′ Takahashi, 64′ Sakata, 85′ Takahashi
Our first home defeat of the season, and it followed the same pattern as has been seen in the other defeats in April. Coming up against a team which has a better midfield than us we cannot supply balls into dangerous areas, and allow the opposition to launch attacks from within our half.
Keeping the same team as that which beat Tokushima was fairly straight-forward, but playing against Verdy is a very different proposition to a down-beat Tokushima, even without their bright prospect Kobayashi.
Our 2 central midfielders of Suzuki Jun and Sueyoshi were again chasing shadows for much of the game, and with Naruoka playing a lot narrower to make up numbers it meant we had no-one out left for much of the game. An issue compounded by Kim being left out for the much more defensive Omata.
In games like this we need to sacrifice an attacker to get hold of midfield as in Jogo, Naruoka and Sakata we have 3 of the best attackers in the division who cause problems every time they get the ball.
Having said that, Tokyo weren’t an awesome team on this showing, and reminded me a lot of Avispa in trying to over-complicate things at times and the first half didn’t have many direct chances.
Of the chances which were created Tokyo scored as the ball was given away by Yutaka allowing a Verdy cross to be aimed at Josimar (who has got a lot bigger since I last saw him) who got in a tangle with Kamiyama and Omata allowing the loose ball to be slotted in by Abe.
At the other end Sakata was freed in the box by Suzuki Jun and will be disappointed at seeing his shot slice badly wide, and we nearly got a lucky equaliser as the Tokyo #3 got mixed up on a cross and only missed side-footing an own goal by about 1m.
Avispa didn’t look out of it, and should recall that in our promotion season we went behind in about half the games we ended up winning. Unfortunately we gave away a silly 2nd goal which made things very difficult. What looked like a regulation cross was missed by everyone and ended up sitting in the far corner 20 minutes into the 2nd half.
We kept pushing for a way back in, but just cannot get the ball into dangerous areas. Sakata showed that on occasions when we can he will do the rest as a cross into the box from Omata was acrobatically scored by Sakata with a first time overhead kick. In a season of great goals this may have been his best, and shows that we just need more penalty box entries.
As We went looking for an equaliser again it was Tokyo who ended up scoring a 3rd as a cross into the box was won by substitute Maki, even though he was being challenged by three defenders. With everyone marking him the ball came to the back post for a low cross to be fired back across goal for Takahashi to get his 2nd of the game.
He would have a quite eventful game after scoring 2 goals then being very lucky to avoid being sent off as he came up behind Kihara and clashed heads after a challenge. It wasn’t a full head-butt, but he made contact with his head and would likely have gone if the referee had seen it.
I’ll put it down again, this is how we need to play against the harder teams in the division…
Kamiyama – 8 Wasn’t really called to do many saves, but when he was he pulled off a really good double save to keep the clean sheet. Playing very well.
Omata – 8 Totally solid defensively. Not as useful in attack as Kim, but as much as I like Minje he might find it hard to get back in the team.
Wada – 8No problems defensively, and put in a great cross for our second goal. Still not sure how comfortable he is at right-back, but is doing very well.
Koga – 9My Man of the Match. Was great in defence, but more than just his personal ability he makes everyone around him with his experience and organisation.
Hatamoto – 8 Showed no fear against a big Brazilian, and is getting better and better every game. I wonder how long he could have stayed on the bench if Kazuki and Koga weren’t injured.
Naruoka – 9Official Man of the Match. Showed he is a class above this division with 2 great goals and an assist. Is really useful in defence, one of our best defenders at set-pieces.
Sueyoshi – 7 Ruled midfield for much of the game with Suzuki, passing at a far higher level than usual. Put in some good tackles, would still like to see more bite.
Suzuki – 8 Was getting first to the 2nd ball more than anyone. Shows great vision in attack, even if not everything comes off. Capable of long range passing and tenacious tackling, should see himself as a deep midfielder in my opinion.
Jogo – 9Playing a little narrower than usual which really helped the team compared to hugging the touch-line. Good vision throughout and a very well taken goal to start the goals.
Yutaka – 6 Seems a little harsh in a 4-0 win, but we scored 4 goals and he didn’t get any of them and wasn’t involved in any of the goals.
Sakata – 8 Held the ball up well all game. Played with his back to goal for much of the game, but was key for all our goals.
Kihara – 8 Incredible first ever goal he will never forget. Looked lively and full of running.
Samir – 6 Got the ball once and maintained possession. Still not had a shot.
Nishida – 6 What price on helping team spirit? Hasn’t done it on the pitch yet.
Maeda – 8 Had to make changes and got it right. If Koga can stay fit it solves a major problem for him. Yutaka in attack is a question now, as is strengthening midfield for the stronger teams.
Lots of great goals to watch this week, and hopefully the start of some good form with lots of games coming fast in the next few weeks.
I’m still a bit worried that we only seem to score great goals, but it is very nice to watch.
Goal 1 – Jogo’s improvised turn
Our corners this season have been fairly terrible. Very little variation, and none played short even though we have 3-4 players who could crack a good shot at goal.
Here the ball was cleared, but only as far as Naruoka in his customary position on the D. If teams are going to leave him alone there they deserve to concede, and after a first time shot scuffed to Jogo he quickly turned and shot into the corner after finding the ball.
Goal 2 – Just like watching Brazil
We started passing the ball around the opposition half instead of around our defence and carved Tokushima apart.
A ball out wide by Suzuki Jun was played to Wada in space to pass along the edge of the box. If Jun did get another touch it was very subtle, while Naruoka’s was a lot more straightforward: hit first time into the far corner.
Goal 4 took the plaudits, but I think this was even better.
Goal 3 – Naruoka curls it
Sakata was holding the ball up well all game, and here he plays it out to Naruoka on the edge of the box.
Taking three defenders out of the game with a cut inside he shows the merit of an inside-out winger by curling a shot into the far corner again.
Goal 4 – Kihara’s screamer
The winner of the J-League show’s Goal of the Day, and there can’t be many better first ever League goals.
Running into space he didn’t need any options as he went past his man and rifled an unstoppable shot into the far top corner.
Mad celebrations with the bench, and Jogo deserves some credit for the ball to him in space.
Tokushima 0 – 4 Avispa
45′ Jogo, 55′ Naruoka, 60′ Naruoka, 80′ Kihara
After 3 matches with no wins I was starting to think that Avispa couldn’t win in April. They comprehensively showed that wasn’t true but the scoreline didnt look like it would be possible for a lot of this game.
The team came out with the same formation as in previous games, but with a couple of key differences. Koga came into defence, tellingly in place of Kobara rather than Hatamoto, and was awesome; exactly what we need- loud, big, great positioning, and able to organise the others around him. Him and Hatamoto were largely able to nullify the threat of the hopeless Diogo and more threatening #10.
Elsewhere the midfield was the same as last week, but seemed to be a little narrower with a much better grip of the game with Suzuki in particular regularly getting to the loose balls first.
The first half was very evenly matched, with Avispa perhaps looking a little better overall, but Tokushima carving out clearer scoring chances.
Crosses were being sent into the Tokushima box, but our small strikeforce weren’t getting too close to them, while at the other end balls were being slipped through for Diogo but he doesn’t seem to be the most mobile striker in the world and was being dealt with quite easily by the Avispa defence.
It looked like The half would end 0-0 but then after a couple of corners Avispa scored. We have looked totally ineffective at corners this season, but after one of these was easily cleared Naruoka hit the ball first time from the position on the edge of the D like he usually takes up. It wasn’t a great shot, but it did reach a surprised Jogo a couple of metres from goal who was able to locate the ball, turn and shoot past the helpless keeper at the near post.
It was the perfect time to score, but we had scored at tihs time against Kyoto so I wasn’t totally comfortable.
Coming out for the second half the team looked confident, or perhaps it was Tokushima losing confidence, because they started making better progress down the wings with Sakata doing a great job of holding the ball up and spreading it wide.
From a great move which saw the ball being passed around our midfield 40m further ahead of where we usually play the ball was moved to the right wing where Jogo passed to Wada in space to cross in for the incoming Naruoka to hit first time and find the far corner. I think it was the best goal of the game, but the next two goals provided some competition.
Comfortable in a 2 goal lead, and with Naruoka having got a goal and an assist the ball was being pinged around. A 3rd goal was added when Sakata again held the ball up and spread it across the pitch. This time to the left where Naruoka took 3 defenders out of the game with a drop of his shoulder and curled a classy shot past the keeper into the same far post as he had scored before.
At 3-0 up Naruoka was denied the chance of a hattrick as he was taken off for Kihara, and Kamiyama showed he was maintaining his great form by making a double save to deny a goal which may have given Tokushima a way back in. Hatamoto was playing with no fear against the big Diogo, and showed he is the real deal and should start every game when fit.
As space opened up at the other end it gave Kihara room to run into. He looked a lot quicker than on the cabbage patch at Machida, and also showed he knows where the goal is as he took a couple of touches and hit an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 40 yards. He was very happy to score his first professional goal, and it was nice to see that despite a terrible few games the squad still seem to have great morale as they celebrated with him.
Nishida Go and Samir had time to come on and pick up more minutes on the pitch, but the game was won by then and nothing much more happened.