Consadole Sapporo 3 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka
So a win here would have taken us into the play-off positions with a couple of points to spare, but we blew it big time.
Excuses could be made that we didn’t have a full-strength defence out, but the match was lost on way more than just the defence.
Throughout this season we have suffered from something of a disconnect between midfield and attack, and it has at times invited oppositions to come and test the defence when we have turned over possession. To be fair to the defence and keepers they have then done a pretty good job at withstanding those attacks, but today Sapporo’s attack clicked and we were always facing an uphill task.
I understand what Pusnik is trying to do in asking the keepers to build from the back and then pass along the floor. Each consecutive pass should have a relatively small chance of failure, and while the opposition don’t have the ball they can’t score; this is in comparison to a long clearance which might have a 50% chance of being retained by us, but has as much chance of giving the ball straight back.
The problem in this game (and much of this season) is that the midfield 3 are not getting the ball to the front 3 with enough consistency. In this game in particular Okada was terrible in my opinion, really offering very little in terms of an option. Nakahara was even deeper for much of the time, and Jogo is basically out of position (although that then asks the question of what exactly is his position?).
Having said all that Avispa could and should have taken the lead. Kanemori was trying to be busy us front and pot onto a loose ball with just the keeper to beat, but panicked a little and gave a defender time to get back and make a challenge.
Consadole had a similar sort of chance at the other end and the game looked like it could have some goals.
The goal did come and it was largely due to some bad defensive positioning, and a good finish from the edge of the box.
With possession cheaply given away the ball was directly and quickly played up field, and managed to be played onto the edge of the box for the Sapporo captain Okamoto to place just inside the post from the edge of the box.
Avispa seem to spend a lot of time trying to pull defensive lines out of shape, but not really succeeding; here we had an example of it being done to us with simple, direct football. Okamoto had time to take a couple of touches on the edge of the box and still have no-one within 2m of him to put the ball exactly where he wanted it.
Having been out of position and looking lethargic for the 1st goal the central back 2 looked even worse for the 2nd. With Park Gun drawn way to far to the right and too far forward, to basically be in no-mans land; Tsutsumi in a not much better position behind him, a simple ball cutting out the entire back line could be played to the unmarked Arano who finished well on the half-volley.
Omata looked across in hope for an off-side flag, probably wondering how there could be so much space in the middle, but it was just a defence in disarray which left the space.
It was the sort of defensive positioning which suggested Avispa might need some old-school Arrigo Saachi ropes tying players together training to make them hold their shape better.
If Avispa could get a goal before half-time the game was still open enough to suggest there was a way back in but Consadole closed the game with a 3rd which Park Gun won’t be adding to his youtube highlights reel.
Again horribly out of shape, the centre-back pairing were totally dissected by a diagonal ball which Park got tangled up on trying to reach and leave Arano with his second good finish of the match.
Half-time saw a double substitution as the squad looked a mess. Personally I would have taken Tsutsumi off. He has been possibly the player of the season so far, but at times in this match looked like the same disinterested, overly casual player of last season. If there was something we could get from this game it would be saying to Hatamoto to show what he can do with the insurance that he wouldn’t be any worse than the first half.
The substitutes who did come on did make things a lot better. Funeyama and Kanakubo provide the dynamism and skill to be able to get the ball in the right places at the right time. Funeyama doesn’t seem to have the stamina to do it all match, or stay on the pitch for longer than 15 minutes without getting a yellow card.
We are still in a very good position in the table and hopefully Kanakubo can now stay fit and we can build from the second half of this match to be a team with greater cohesion in the remaining games of the season.
After last season the aim should still be 6th place as a great achievement.
Some interesting highlights this week. No idea where it is from but it has English commentary with some quite interesting pronunciations.