Archive for August 2012

vs. Matsumoto yamaga (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Avispa Fukuoka 2 : 2 Matsumoto Yamaga

For the second game in a week we managed to get a last minute goal to snatch some points from a club in the bottom third of the table.
This time it wasn’t a win we managed to squeeze out, but a home draw against newly promoted Matsumoto Yamaga.

The game started quite well with Suzuki and Sueyoshi playing about 5m higher up the pitch than they usually do, and even if Sueyoshi wasn’t touching the ball much at least our play seemed to be in a better place on the pitch.
Naruoka returning to the team means we play a narrower game as he floats inside all the time leaving the left flank empty. This does help us in midfield, but also means teams can defend a smaller area. I always think he looks much more dangerous when playing as a more orthodox left winger trying to reach the byline and cut in, but his positioning paid off mid-way through the first half as he leaned back to meet a Wada cross 8 yards from goal and loop a header into the corner. His heading game is something very under-rated both in attack and defence.

It is the first time I’ve seen Avispa leading for a while, and I thought our possession game might then be too much for Matsumoto, but unfortunately the team switched off having taken the lead and allowed Yamaga straight back into the game.
Within 2 minutes a ball was played from space in midfield around the outside of Kazuki. While Kazuki is good in the air and fully comitted he has never been fast, let alone after just coming back from an ACL injury, and was easily beaten for pace and then wrong footed by the Matsumoto forward. His shot was blocked by Kamiyama but bounced up for Yamaga’s big #19 to head in from a metre out.
Sueyoshi should watch the goal back many times to see why things aren’t going well for him this season as he gives up space in midfield to create the chance and then has no effort to close it down.

With the game all square Avispa lost some of their confidence and the midfield pair dropped further back. They had been ineffective in the first half, but at least they had been high enough up the pitch so that when they lost the ball we could defend against it.
After giving away a free-kick from a crossing position it was fairly inevitable we would concede after how we have fared against set-pieces this season.

The zone defence for set pieces was shown up for how ridiculous it is as what should have been an easy cross was missed by Naruoka at the front, moved onto and through Jogo before bouncing off Wada for the onrushing Yamaga #19 to meet and bundle towards goal.
This #19 summed up the difference between the two teams. A straight-forward, uncomplicated player who has served time in the lower leagues and works hard scored two ‘ugly’ goals against our team who over-complicate everything and approach games as if they think opposition are going to roll over and let us pass our way through them.

Maeda made a double substitution whih rekked of desperation, and Naruoka moved into central midfield. I still maintain that that is where he should play with our current options there, and he did as well as anyone has this season. His heading ability helped immediately, and willingness to look for a forward pass gave us something we had been missing.
A Yamaga team leading away from home with 15 minutes to play was always going to be very hard to break down though, and in the end we were very lucky to do so.
With absolutely no time left on the clock Koga had been pushed forward to play as striker with balls being launched into the box. After he got onto one of these at the back post Osamr was on hand to force home a header from a central position as the ball came back across goal.
He has now scored 2 goals from 2 games and fully deserved his contract and starting position. It is quite ironic that both goals have come from headers as I don7t think that is his best skill, but Avispa certainly try to put crosses into the box so he might get a lot more practice at it as Sakata is fairly terrible with his head.
It asks the question about why we are still trying to do it rather than play slide passes past the shoulder of the defender, but that is a question only Maeda can answer.

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Posted August 30, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Matsumoto Yamaga (preview)   Leave a comment

Avispa will be hoping that after getting a home win against Toyama they can put together a little run of wins to end the season on a high.
We have our second home game in a week to try to build momentum, and are facing one of the new teams in the division, Matsumoto Yamaga.

After struggling at times this season Yamaga are now having what is probably the best debut season in recent times. Their current form is amongst very best in the division being unbeaten in 6 games, with their most recent game being an away win over Kyoto Sanga on Wednesday.

Despite this I’d hope that Avispa could collect all 3 points, to think anything else would be a bit depressing looking at where both clubs were last season, and the players available to each team.

Avispa News
After a win on Wednesday I expect the team to stay much the same, but this would then ask the question about what Ishizu needs to do to get a starting chance.
After coming on and scoring 2 goals, one from the wing and one as striker, to win the game he is entitled to think he should start.

I’d experiment with Naruoka playing in central midfield. He has done that at times in his career, and couldn’t do much worse than Suzuki, Sueyoshi or Okada. He seems to want to play across the pitch so let him and see what happens.
Okada is suspended so something has to change, I expect Sueyoshi to come in as a straight swap.

Strikers and defence will stay the same.

Matsumoto Yamaga news
Matsumoto will stay the same as the team which managed to beat Kyoto Sanga in mid-week, and which have played so solidly recently.

They are a team which are hard to break down, with their recent run of form being built on not conceding many goals.
Up front they have the option of tall Brazilian Allison, but against our tall immobile central defence will probably favour small mobile attackers, and fully expect them to aim long balls at left back as every other club has recently.

My Prediction
Avispa 1 – 0 Matsumoto Yamaga

Tight game, but one which I think our substitutes will win for us at the end again.

Posted August 26, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Kateller Toyama (report / youtube)   2 comments

Avispa Fukuoka 3 – 2 Kateller Toyama

In my preview I had said it would mean nothing if we played our regular team and won; but I was wrong. It did feel good to win, with fans at Level-5 Stadium seeing their first victory since the 1st of July, but let’s not get carried away.
We managed to beat the worst club in the division with an injury time winner after twice going behind and were lucky to not be losing 3-0 at half-time.

The game started late after the prospect of watching another Avispa home game was even too much for God. The heavens opened and a huge electrical storm raged for about 45 minutes.

The supporters were told to get under cover and it started to look like the game might be abandoned.
Toyama must have the best supporters in the League, but even for them it would have been tough to travel all the way to Fukuoka for a mid-week game as the lowest club in the league only to see the game get abandoned.
The rain did stop, and the match kicked off an hour late at 8pm.

There were three changes from Sunday, with Kazuki coming in for the injured Kobara, Naruoka replacing Kihara and the very welcome addition of Osmar up front in place of Nishida.
Fukuoka stared much as they always do. Looking nervous, but trying to hold the ball. Naruoka didn’t seem to have learned much after a spell on the bench and was still playing in a free role, leaving the left side empty and complaining to everyone about everything they were doing. That said I was interested to see how Naruoka would link up with Osmar as his energetic movement would give something to aim for.

Unfortunately as so often has happened this season we conceded an early goal. The referee was being very fussy and after awarding a free kick on the left side of the box Toyama’s South Korean striker placed it over the wall to open the scoring.

Going behind is the worst thing that can happen to Avispa as it means teams can sit back and we don’t have the game-plan or confidence to break down defences.
As Avispa tried to open the defence they were open to counter-attacks and very nearly went further behind after firstly a shot was blasted over by a panicking midfielder on the left side of the box, and then the South Korean guy smashed against the cross-bar after Kazuki handled on the edge of the area.

The 2nd half started much like the 1st with Avispa holding most of the ball, but not really threatening to score (or even shoot). We were getting into lots of positions to cross, but through a combination of bad crosses and no serious aerial presence the Toyama defence was dealing with everything easily.

It was obvious that Jogo would be involved in any move where we did score, and after 67 minutes he played a dinked cross towards Osmar who equalised with a looping header into the far corner as he leant away from goal. A very hard move to pull off, and one which he deserved after doing a lot of running and playing with great energy in the few games he has had so far.

A draw was not good enough for Avispa and we went looking for a winner. We were still getting lots of opportunities to cross from open play and corners, but we have not looked like scoring from corners all season. In fact they are often good opportunities for the opposition as our central defenders both go forward and with no midfield to tidy up second balls it invites teams to run at us.

So it happened here, and after filming an attempted corner I didn’t stop filming as it was inevitable that we would give a counter-attack chance. A well taken goal, but we have given away about 10 goals like this this season.
The problem this time came after our man on the edge of the box, Naruoka Sho, passes the ball straight to a Toyama player with 8 of our remaining players in the box.

Being behind in the game again Maeda immediately brought on Ishizu and Kihara and Avispa entered frantic mode.
This is a time in a game when shouted on by the crowd they start firing balls into the box without any of the patience which is such a problem in the first half of games. It isn’t the prettiest style of football to watch, but it is definitely when we are at out most threatening and is how I would like to see us play all the time!

After getting a free-kick on the edge of the box after the still excellent Osmar had dropped his shoulder to get round the outside of a defender for the 3rd-4th time and be brought down the ball was aimed at Kazuki at the back-post.
Stretching to keep it in play the ball fell to Ishizu who shaped well and shot at goal only to see his effort blocked. Not standing around to anguish at how close he had been he nipped the ball straight back and hit an unstoppable shot on the turn into the top corner.

A draw was still a terrible result for Avispa and we kept looking for a winning goal. Toyama had started to try and hold on for a draw and invited us to attack.
With just injury time remaining Kihara slipped a slide pass through the defence to Ishizu who by now playing as striker and full of confidence hit a shot from the edge of the box to beat the Toyama for pace at the near post.

It was nice to see the team and fans happy, but I feel this game changes very little.
What I do hope is that from the 3 goals scored tonight Maeda (and the rest of the management team) have learned something.
– All three were scored by players who have not been regular starting members.
– The 2 late goals were scored when we were playing a faster more direct game, with young substitutes brought on.
– If you look at the assists and scorers (1: Jogo->Osmar, 2:Kazuki->Ishizu, 3:Kihara->Ishizu) then 5 of the 6 names are players who haven’t been playing this season.
– All goals were scored without long patient passing build-ups.

Posted August 24, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Kateller Toyama (preview)   Leave a comment

Maeda has 2 options for this match; firstly to play the same team we have all season, or secondly to play a younger team trying something new.
A win, draw, or loss is irrelevant in terms of this season, we aren’t going to be in the play-offs and we aren’t going to go to the JFL.

Option 1 – Old team

He can keep playing those same players and formation which have failed all season.

If we win then nobody will care, we are playing Toyama, a team who are currently bottom of the table with only 3 wins this season.

If we draw or lose then Level-5 Stadium is probably going to be even angrier than after the Mito, Gifu or Kitakyushu games.

Option 2 – New team

The other alternative is for Maeda to play a new team with some fresh experimental tactics, lots of young local players trying their best to show what they can do.

If we win then the supporters will be happy. They have seen the future, and can celebrate some new guys coming in and showing the heart which has been missing so far this season. It offers hope that things might get better.
If we draw or lose then people won’t be happy, but it will be more understandable as we didn’t play our ‘best’ team.

Graphical representation
If I try to assume a numerical value to the supporter mood to represent this, in the same way you might use ‘utils’ when referring to game theory then you get a table which looks something like this: The red number shows supporter mood.

A win with the old team means nothing.

A win with a new team would be great to see.

A loss with the old team would be even worse than Kitakyushu.

A loss with a new team is understandable and means nothing.

If you wanted to continue the game theory route then from my numbers you can see the only rational decision is to play a new young team. The worst thing which can happen with a new team is the best thing which can happen with an old team.

Avispa News.
Having had Kazuki make his first appearance back we lost another centre-back as Kobara went off injured and looked bad enough that he won’t be back.
Oh is still out.
Based on how they played against Kitakyushu I’d like to see Osmar and Ishizu play as a minimum, but I don’t know how brave Maeda is going to be.

Kateller Toyama news
They don’t have anyone suspended, and relied on a couple of young loaneess in midfield to try and start things in the away leg, where we were very lucky to come away with a win in the last couple of minutes.
Last time they came to Level-5 Stadium they lost 5-0.

My Prediction

Avispa 3 – 0 Kateller Toyama.

I think we will win easily, but it won’t mean anything if we do it with the same team who got well beaten by Mito and Kitakyushu.

After the game Suzuki Jun tweeted that ‘It was pathetic’, the dressing room need to be given something to be optimistic about.

Posted August 22, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Preview

New team – New formation – New tactics   2 comments

There is absolutely no point to chase this season, we can’t get any lower and whether we finish 8th or 18th doesn’t really make a lot of difference.

One thing we can do is try to make sure that we don’t go into next season like we are now.
The formation has to change. The tactics have to change. A lot of the players have to change.
Let’s start now so we know where to get new players at the end of the season, and have a chance to practice before the season starts.
1) Give up on promotion next season too.

The damage from this season is huge.
The money we have spent on salaries, and huge backwards step in formation and tactics (from the last 2 seasons) means the club needs to be totally rebuilt.

go into next season trying to create a strong foundation upon which to repair the damage. This season we over-stretched, buying in a group of players who didn’t gel, and a manager who asked them to play a form of football which was far too difficult for them.

Play with no pressure next season and try to make a style of play which all playing and coaching staff can understand and work towards.

2) Bring young players through.
Some players should already be certain to not be at the club next season.
Wada, Tsutsumi, Naruoka, Kobara, Okada, Yutaka. I guess all of these players are taking salaries of over 10m yen a year and have done no better than if a youth player had played on his basic 3.5m trainee package.
Nobody could say Naruoka has been better than Ishizu, or Kobara better than Hatamoto. Nobody really knows how good Masato, Son or Ushinohama is.

Give these players a chance, they can’t do any worse than we have already and might be a whole lot better.
Fukuoka produces a huge number of top level players, but very few of them come to Avispa; let’s become known as a place which is willing to give young players a chance with one or two older heads like Koga and Jogo around to support and help them develop.

I’d even drop Sakata. He is our best player but can we really justify his expense for what he has done in the 2nd half of the season?

3) Change formation.
442 is an old fashioned formation.
Very few top clubs or countries will play it, and those which do rely on either a long ball game to big strikers and flying wingers using the corners along with well drilled set-pieces (a la Stoke City); or with 2 high class full-backs acting as support wingers to make the pitch wider and force teams to double/triple team wingers (a la Brazil).
We seem to be trying to play a possession based passing game when we only have 2 midfielders.

I think we should be trying to play a 451/433 formation which allows players to hold midfield, with wingers who are happy to get into the box as Jogo has done so brilliantly at times this season.

My team for the rest of this season.

………………Osmar…………….
Ishizu…………………………Jogo
……Suzuki….Okada…..Sueyoshi……
Kim…..Yamaguchi…….Koga………Wada
…………..Kamiyama……………..

Substitutes: Kawata, Hatamoto, Son, Samir, Ushinohama, Yoshihara, Sakata

Osmar has been great and will hopefully be encouraged to stay for another year if he gets starts.

Ishizu has done more than anyone on the left and will get better.

Jogo couldn’t have done more.

The midfield is a total mess. Hopefully with an extra man Suzuki and Sueyoshi can gain confidence again, and Okada can be replaced with a really top quality experienced midfielder in post season.

Kim can go forward with more confidence with 3 volantes.

Yamagucji and Koga are experienced and solid, with Hatamoto getting lots of sub appearances.

Wada shouldn’t be playing but until Oh gets fit we have no options.

Kamiyama is still good enough for J2 despite making mistakes.

The fans would understand that this is a team and formation for the future and if he gets brave and does this with some success it might even save Maeda his job as a confidence about next season grows.

Posted August 21, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

vs. Giravanz Kitakyushu (report)   Leave a comment

Giravanz Kitakyushu 4 – 2 Avispa Fukuoka

I wouldn’t have thought that things could get much worse than they have been this season, but this game represented what is probably the lowest point in the history of Avispa Fukuoka football club. We have certainly never been lower in the J-League table than what we are this season, and have now been comprehensively beaten by a team who have never previously scored a goal against us.
Before today the Fukuoka derby was never really taken seriously as Giravanz were looked as like a younger brother who was never really going to offer much competition, yesterday they showed they have overtaken us.

The game started with Okada coming in for Sueyoshi, and the team remaining otherwise unchanged despite the team sheet saying that Osmar was going to play.
Avispa looked slightly the better team in possession of the ball, but gifted a goal away within 10 minutes as an aimless spinning ball was chased by a Giravanz striker and after Kamiyama left his goal to only be beaten by the bounce and the striker, the ball was pulled back for it to be slotted into a goal with no keeper.

If Kamiyama gifted the first goal it was the referee who played a part in gifting the second. A corner with no attacking threat (as with all corners from Avispa this season) was cleared out of the box where Koga made a mess of things trying to win a foul under the fear of being done for pace while out of position.
In the ensuing tangle of legs he had his knee stood on and rather wait for him to get treatment the referee allowed Giravanz to take the free-kick quickly where they could cross and head in against an Avispa defence with no centre-backs. It was a fairly class-less goal by everyone involved but in a local derby game you have to expect teams to do everything they can at times.

Losing 2-0 is pretty much game over for Avispa. They rely on teams to open up and give space for their short passing and overly complicated bullshit; with a 2 goal cushion Kitakyushu could sit back and crowd the game.
Mid-way through the half Kobara went off injured after repeating the crazy tactic of switching position with Minje for a goal-kick. Knowing that he had to head the ball or be caught out of position he over stretched for a ball and ended up smashing his nose on the back of a midfielders head. He went off injured and was replaced by kazuki returning from his ACL injury.
This switch in positions has to stop. Minje is small, but doesn’t do badly when going for headers; and even if he does miss out it is in the left-back position and shouldn’t be a huge problem. What is a huge problem is the defence being totally screwed by people trying to switch positions and being left with no centre-back. Kobara can’t even do the job of a centre-back, why is he trying to be a left-back and volante as well?

We did get a goal back before halftime and inevitably it was from Jogo. A ball from the left was played by Sakata without ever getting a decent shot on goal, but fortunately reached Jogo towards the back of the box. He smashed a bullet shot into the angle of bar and post and after the goal stopped rattling it turned out the ball had actually gone into the net.

At 2-1 at half-time it seemed like Avispa could carry momentum into the 2nd half and go on to win, but they kept playing their ineffective patient game with their only plan seeming to be for Suzuki Jun to try and play a chipped ball straight over the middle which never worked but is probably something he saw on TV some time.

With nothing really happening Maeda switched Nishida for Osmar and he immediately made a difference. Running at defenders, using the corners and generally looking like he wanted to win he must wonder why he isn’t starting.
He could have easily got us a couple of goals but after twice getting into 1-on-1 positions through hassling defenders and running at goal he seemed to snatch a little bit at his shots and have them both blocked by the keeper. He was pissed off to not score, but will do soon if he keeps doing what he is.

As Avispa looked like they could get an equaliser Giravanz scored again with a shot from distance on the break which beat Kamiyama just inside the post. Very similar to the 2nd from Shonan, kamiyama is spoiling what was a good start to the season by him.

Avispa carried on playing as the fans kept chanting, and Suzuki Jun scored another goal direct from a corner. I don’t even consider corners as attacking possibilities for Avispa any more and getting Suzuki Jun to shoot direct from them seems as good as anything else they have tried this season.
As Suzuki Jun motioned for the crowd to be lifted they then allowed Giranvanz to score nearly straight away.

A counter attack led to a speculative shot from well out side the area which Kamiyama seemed to turn and watch go into the goal as if doing some unorthodox warm-up routine.

The fans booed like hell, Maeda wouldn’t come over again and I felt sorry for the players to have to take the abuse when they are trying, but are being totally handicapped by a formation and playing style which is woefully inadequate.

Posted August 20, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Giravanz Kitakyushu (preview)   Leave a comment

Suzuki Jun claimed the Avispa team was scared of Shonan Bellmare during the week; I can’t imagine things are going to get less ‘scarier’ for Avispa as they make the short trip north to play Giravanz in the Fukuoka derby.

Giravanz are a much better team then they were when setting the record low points score for the division 2 seasons ago; of all the new teams from the last few years they have progressed the best, but are still a team which Avispa should be beating with ease.
This is summed up by the fact that in the 3 times we have ever played them we have won 3 times.

The games are getting closer, but with Avispa wounded after a terrible month and hopefully playing to prove they have a future as a professional footballer we should be able to to beat them.

Avispa news

Defence is likely to remain unchanged as even though Minje had his worst ever game, and Wada seems to be on the decline as a footballer, the options to replace them are pretty much non-existent.
What has to be addressed is that when he goes forward Minje is one of the best left-backs in the division, defensively he is less strong. Give him the freedom to break forward.

Midfield will see Suzuki and Sueyoshi remain in the team as local boys, but Sueyoshi in particular has to start playing with energy or give up on being a footballer.
Naruoka and Okada are likely to remain on the bench in a political move, with Kihara hoping for a more productive game than Shonan. I’d play Ishizu ahead of kihara but Maeda won’t.
Jogo is undroppable.

Up front I think they will keep Sakata and Nishida, but at the first sign of tiredness switch for both Brazilians. Personally I’d play Samir and Osmar from the start, but that would be too much especially in a derby.

Kitakyushu news.
Kitakyushu looked quite good and compact last time they played us, with tall centre-back Colin Killoran looking quite good.
The way to get at them will be balls from the byline played to the near post, but I say that every week and we never use the flanks despite having some of the leagues fastest players.

In midfield they are going to be slightly weaker than usual with Morimura suspended, which will hopefully give our weak midfield pair a chance to gain confidence.

Up front they are pretty industrial and hopefully nothing to worry Koga or Kobara.

My Prediction

Giravanz 0 – 1 Avispa

We have won every game against Giranvanz, but they have also been quite ragged, close games.

Posted August 18, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Preview