Vissel Kobe 4 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka
4′ Morioka, 44′ Sugiura, 50′ Ogawa, 64′ Popo(pen)
After the home game against Kobe in May the Kobe coach had said we were a good team who were only going to get better as the season progressed and the players adapted to the new style and formation. He must have had a surprise today when the Avispa team lined up in a totally new formation, missing many of the players who had done well that day, and with others playing in totally different positions.
I have been an advocate of having a 3xx formation to use as a Plan B when things may need to be changed a little bit, but by that I meant for specific occasions like when we may be having trouble scoring against a team we should be beating, or when being over-run centrally, or if players get injured or are suspended.
For the second time in a week now we have used the formation for no real purpose other than to tinker with the team and formation. It’s exciting to have a manager brave enough to give debuts to new players, or change player’s positions, or whole team formations, but there needs to be a balance between adventure and having an established routine which the players are comfortable with.
After being fairly ineffective mid-week against Mito we were set up with the same 352 formation against Kobe; a team who would be less troubled by disjointed attacks and could exploit gaps in the defence more ruthlessly. The problem was exacerbated by having Okada playing as one of the 3 centre-backs.
We weren’t playing 352 because of players being suspended/injured, we had a right-back and left-back on the bench who could have played in a back 4 but were choosing to play a 1.70m midfielder as central defender rather than using them.
It took Kobe only 4 minutes to score. A ball down the right saw all 3 centre-backs drawn to that side with the dangerous Mazinho left unmarked on the left side of the box. I’m not sure who was supposed to be marking him, possibly Jogo was right wing-back, but a neat back heel took out everyone and a cross-shot squirmed under Kamiyama into the middle. Park Gun had planty of time to deal with it but tried to use his right instead of smashing it with his left and totally missed the ball to let Morioka score from about 2m.
Avispa made a couple of chances, but never really troubled the keeper. The best chance fell to Kanakubo when played through well into the box but he seemed to take half a second to long before shooting and just made the angle to tight, and keeper time to set himself.
Kobe were better than us all over the pitch, but we weren’t then making them play that hard either. Our defence kept being dissected by fairly simple diagonal passes in behind as we looked to keep a fairly high line.
Just before half time Kobe doubled their lead as one of our 3 centre-backs played Sugiura onside and he ran free on goal and finished calmly. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a footballer wearing make-up before, but I think Sugiura was.
Avispa ended up being fairly lucky to stay with 11 men on the pitch after Kanemori kicked the ball away after being called up for a foul in the Kobe box. He’d earlier been carded for a non-foul at the other end and the referee may have been feeling lenient due to that but by the law of the game he could have picked up his second card.
Going into the 2nd half Avispa did switch back to their 433 formation and looked a bit better. It did then mean that they were playing with Jogo and Kanemori as full-backs, and chasing the game which left huge gaps at the back.
Kobe’s young striker Ogawa found one of these gaps at the right side of the box having been picked out by an early ball and hit what should have been a fairly easy save to make across goal. Having made a few good blocks Kamiyama would be disappointed to see this shot go inside the far post.
3-0 down and being out-played as badly as they have done since being relegated from J1 we did have one more chance to get a consolation goal as Ishizu wriggled free in the box and hit an improvsed shot against the underside of the bar but it bounced clear.
Kobe’s 4th goal was from a penalty after the referee judged Park to have pulled down an attacker as the ball was being crossed into the box. It wasn’t a foul, but it summed up a fairly awful day for the Korean to pick up a yellow card which means he is suspended against JEF, and give away a penalty. Popo converted the penalty easily.
There was still plenty of time for Kobe to score more, and they had a golden chance after Ogawa was sent clear from deep against our 2 defenders and was clipped by kamiyama after rounding the keeper. This time it was a definite penalty and Kamiyama got sent off.
Kasagawa came on for his first action to be to try and save a penalty, which he did. It wasn’t a great penalty, but he saved it well, and went on to make 3-4 other good saves to keep the game at 0-0 while he was on the pitch. Park also made a few good blocks to go some way to redeem himself, but the game was already 4-0 by that point and not really that significant.
My Man of the Match – Eita Kasagawa.
Only on the pitch for half an hour but did more good things in that half hour than many of the other players all match.
We should be back to 433 next week as things don’t get any easier against JEF.