Montedio Yamagata 2 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
After the events off the pitch this week which have seen the club take a huge step backwards in my opinion, I was actually quite apathetic towards this match.
In fact it was only the day after the match that I realised we had played. A large part of this was that I have been very busy with work and lost track of what day it was, but also because for yet another season the players seem to have stopped playing from September onwards and looked far more interested in finding someone to blame for not getting promotion, and making sure that they don’t get injured for when it comes to finding a new club in December.
The game was quite stale. Yamagata really needed the win as they look to sneak into the play-offs, but were caught in a tricky situation as all clubs in the division now know that the best way to beat Avispa is to absorb their attacks and catch them on the counter. If Avispa just sat back and didn’t give the ball away carelessly inside their own half then how were Yamagata going to score?
At times we remind me of the Liverpool team from 10 years ago when they played in Europe and the Roma coach said the way to beat Liverpool is to give them the ball and wait for a mistake rather than try to attack yourself and allow yourself to be caught on the counter attack.
Yamagata had the better of the first half, but never really looked like opening the scoring. They had kept Nakashima on the bench, favouring the more direct Diego; obviously no-one had told them that he always scores against us.
Kanamori started on the bench, a perhaps puzzling omission seeing how poorly Hirai, Jogo and Sakai have performed in attack, and with Sakata only just coming back from injury, but the reality is that after getting a surprise chance under Pusnik when only 18 years old he appears to have believed the hype a little and is a worse player now than he was when he broke into the team.
He used to be full of energy and bite, and do what he was asked against any player in any team. In recent games he looks like so many of the others, trying to get a goal for himself, or a piece of skill which will look good in a highlights package, rather than do what is best for the team.
I’m sure that he would point to the fact that when he came on he did one of these incredible pieces of skill to score what could have been the winning goal for Avispa. Receiving the ball outside the box he burst past 4 defenders with an incisive dribble into the box before coming up with a left foot passed finish which if Eden Hazard had done it would be being replayed around the world.
He would be right to point out how good it was as a goal, but he would be wrong not to listen to my criticism that there are plenty of other times when his finishing and decision making need a lot of work and he isn’t the finished article.
Avispa looked fairly comfortable. Able to sit back a little and concentrate on keeping things solid and fight for the ball in midfield without losing defensive shape they were restricting Yamagata to long range shots without the craft in midfield to stretch the defence.
Unfortunately we totally switched off, fairly inexplicably with just 5 minutes left to play as Yamagata scored 2 goals in 3 minutes to win the game.
I don’t really like our 3 man defence at the moment, with Park in midfield a back 2 should be sufficient, but one thing it does mean is that we should never be caught out by balls being played through the middle. In this game our central defence went totally missing twice when all we had to do was keep things narrow and tight for 5 minutes to win the game.
Both goals came from balls played straight through the middle from inside the Yamagata half, and both had a little controversy about them.
The first reached a Yamagata forward who saw his hot parried by Kamiyama, but parried right back into the middle. An incoming Yamagata defender hit the deflected ball first time into the corner to equalise. I have talked about Kamiyama’s parrying before, he can make himself big and make saves, but he does seem to regularly save them to the ‘wrong side’ and send the ball into the middle of the box rather than beyond the post or over the bar.
For this goal he could also be said that he should probably have at least made an effort for the follow up shot but may have been distracted by a defender to his left again (as with Seon’s own goal previously), and also by having a Yamagata player standing on the goal-line behind him in an offside position.
It would have been very harsh to disallow the goal, but it could be argued to be interfering with play by being 1m from the keeper.
Having had success with this simple ball through the middle approach Montedio repeated the trick. There was a bigger chance for the referee to intervene as it appeared the Yamagata striker handballed the ball to bring it down, but popping out to Diego his shot was again parried by Kamiyama into a dangerous position where Nakajima could score what has become a traditional goal for him when playing Avispa.