Avispa 1 : 2 Matsumoto Yamaga
I wasn’t expecting too much from this game after previous home matches saw us lose to Tokyo Verdy, Mito Hollyhock and Kamatamare Sanuki, and the team didn’t surprise me.
For the 2nd time in 3 seasons a club came to Level-5 Stadium knowing that a win would secure automatic promotion and there can be few more accomodating teams in the division than Avispa in November.
For the 6th time in 7 years the players have basically stopped playing at the end of August and started looking for excuses as to why the season hasn’t ended in promotion. The one season when they did keep on playing we got promotion to J1 in 2010.
How things could have been different here. If the players hadn’t given up when Ishizu was sold (or even better if Ishizu had never been sold) then wins against Verdy, Mito, Sanuki and Thespa would have currently put us on 59 points, 1 point off Oita in 6th. That is just by getting home wins against clubs in the bottom 5 of the division in the last month.
We were never really likely to get anything from this game, but the performance was much better.
Matsumoto play in a style which I have been crying out for Avispa to look towards. They get the ball forward quickly, and look to hurt teams with set-pieces and by taking shots on goal.
An interesting stat before the game showed that Yamaga were in 22nd spot (last) when teams are ranked for number of passes, or time in possesssion of the ball; but have just secured promotion to J1. They have 2 players in the top 3 for shots at goal from midfield, and have an easy game plan which can be adjusted slightly to take into account star opposition players without changing the simple philosophy of the team.
It isn’t the prettiest team to watch, but ask the Yamaga fans from Saturday night if they care. It is like all of Japan has watched the Barcelona (Spain) team for the last decade and now all want to play in this tiki-taka style (even if they have a manager telling them not to), but Matsumoto Yamaga have been watching tapes of Real Madrid (or any Mourinho team from the last decade instead).
Yamaga were looking to get the ball up the field quickly and then use long flat throws into the box to cause problems.
Avispa were holding the bulk of possession (as pre-match stats would suggest) but not able to break down a well orgainsed defence marshalled by the excellent Iida.
I have no idea how Iida didn’t open the scoring from a set piece after about 25 minutes when a header unmarked from the middle of the goal would have been easier to score from rather than flash straight across goal.
Avispa weren’t awful, but found themselves camped on the edge of the final third without the quality to really break down a defence which was sitting deep and staying organised. Sakai is not really a competent attacker and will never score as many as he has this season for the rest of his career. Kanamori had lots of endeavor, but it was often badly judged and ended with him trying to do a little too much or taking the wrong option.
As has happened so often this season we got caught by a counter attack after struggling to break down an attack and sending more players forward.
A long clearance from the Yamaga defence was missed in the air by Koga, and headed on to Funayama. He looked to have been forced too far wide but his shot went under the diving Kamiyama way to easily to basically kill the game and see Yamaga promoted.
I expected Avispa’s heads to totally drop, but they actually did keep fighting a bit and kept looking for an equaliser. Our struggles in attack were highlighted as they were 2 seasons ago with the solution to our attacking problems being to send Lee Kwang Seon forward.
2 seasons ago it was Koga finishing every game as striker, now Seon, similar to having no midfield for 4 seasons I don’t really know how we can see this happen time and again and not try to get a striker who could do this role instead of a centre-back.
Fairly predictably Yamaga scored from another quick counter with players upfield. As the impressive #8 (probably the best player I’ve seen this year) started a quick direct counter his pass to Funayama was half blocked by Nakahara but fell to an onrushing Yamagastriker to finish well from the egde of the box.
Yamaga were promoted, although Avispa did have a chance to get a consoltaion goal as Kanamori rushed onto a pass in the box and collected a fairly soft penalty which was ocnverted by Tsutsumi.