2009-05 Golden Week 2009 (vs Shimizu & FC Tokyo)
Posted by stefanole on 2009/05/08
So after having played two games in three days, Sanfrecce have managed to covert their opportunities into four points. Not championship form, but definitely enough to avoid the J2 trapdoor.
Saturday’s game against Shimizu was tight as expected, but we didn’t get the breaks and we didn’t look as committed as in previous weeks. Perhaps this is a team (and maybe manager) who thrive under more adverse circumstances. As it was, the weather was good and the crowd boisterous, but the attack seemed blunter than in previous games despite the personnel not having changed. Maybe it was a case of having one eye on the next game. But where the attack failed to score, it was less a case of the defence achieving a clean sheet as it was a little hard on Shimizu to have been denied at least one goal, with reserve (twice over?) keeper Nakabayashi making a couple of point-blank saves and looking increasingly comfortable and confident with every minute. Moriwaki seemed to me to be the weak-point of the defence, as he was unable to prevent a few crosses from being put in from our right flank, at least one of which I think provoked one of the aforementioned point-blank saves from Nakabayashi. On the plus side, despite a large disparity in height, Moriwaki kept Shimizu’s Frode Johnsen at bay with some good positional awareness at several points in the game, rather than beating him in the air directly. The result was that Johnsen was replaced in the second half, still bereft goals and unable to find them at the Big Arch. Nakajima took the centre-half spot if I remember correctly, but really he appears to be no more than a stand-in player for Stoyanov. Mikić had a disappointing game and was substituted in the second half. I did notice that he was wearing a red headband in the first half which raised a smile (celebrating his red card against Frontale no doubt), but I think he changed back into the purple one for the second half.
There is an alternative match report available from the Shimizu UK-Ultras here.
As for yesterday’s game, the predicted rainstorm that was supposed to arrive around 2am decided to crash the party and from two hours before kickoff we endured fairly heavy rain. It eased up around half-time to a steady patter but didn’t stop completely until near enough exactly fulltime.
I’m not sure if the FC Tokyo ultras missed their bus or what, but they missed the usual two minutes of chanting and flag-waving that goes on just before the kickoff. They arrived just after the kickoff I think, in some sort of manic conga line formation as they ran from the entrance to the lower corner of the away supporters’ section. Their noise was just as disorganised coming as it did in the form of half-hearted boos and drum rolling whenever we were on the ball, but they had the odd habit of going completely silent when a Tokyo player was on the ball.
As for the match, Mikić and Stoyanov had very good games, the former improving on his sub-par performance against S-Pulse with a lively performance which saw him set up Takahagi for his goal. Kashiwagi was his usual industrious self, and Makino surged forward on a few occasions, with Hattori covering the flank well when Tokyo counterattacked. Stoyanov joined in the fun also, winning a free kick on at least one occasion and hammering a couple of shots high. His presence alone seems to encourage the team’s natural dynamism to come to the fore, and he is missed I think offensively as much as he is defensively when he is not in the team. Even Moriwaki seemed to borrow a little of Stoyanov’s aerial ability, and Aoyama was notable for his workrate in midfield.
As for the first goal, Mikić used his pace to find himself acres of space on the right wing, and surprise surprise I think it was Stoyanov who played him the ball on one of his raids into Tokyo’s half. I didn’t think that the Tokyo marking was quite so bad at the time, but there were fully ten yards between Mikić and the covering defender. S-Pulse had this figured out on the weekend with at least two orange shirts closing Mikić down as soon as he was on the ball, and we were unable to capitalise on the space that this would have generated elsewhere. Tokyo though decided to pack the middle of the defence, with fully three defenders left standing open-mouthed as Mikić’s cross from deep on the right cut out all of them and invited Takahagi to convert the opportunity from eight yards out, which he did with amplomb, heading the ball into the bottom-left corner. It was a really good ball in from Mikić, but there are still a few doubts about his ability to lose players and still put in quality balls under pressure. I also don’t remember many times when Mikić has taken on a defender or two on his way goalwards, but his confidence was such that he tried his luck in this game but with poor results. Shooting is obviously not his forté, and as much as I’d like to see him finish one of his sprints up the line with a goal of his own, it looks like he’s more productive as provider rather than finisher.
Sanfrecce had something of a letoff on the 26th minute as Tokyo hit the post, with the rebound being put in by an offside player. The ease with which opposition players are allowed to waltz up to our penalty area is a little disconcerting. They had it in the net a second time in the second half but had that goal disallowed for a foul on Stoyanov. One of the Tokyo players was not impressed when Stoyanov went down holding his head, so it’s possible that he did exaggerate a little, but he’s obviously clever enough to go down and emphasise that he is temporarily unable to make a full contribution and the referee responded to that. Just as a closing thought (because I can’t think of anything more to write right now), I was impressed with the referee for the Shimizu game and the genuine concern that he and his assistants seemed to have whenever a player went down. It’s always a good sign. The committee must have felt sorry for us after inflicting Yoshida on us a couple of weeks ago and appointed us a decent FIFA referee. The referee on Tuesday was less consistent (and wasn’t FIFA-listed) but he didn’t lose control of the game and allowed some leeway for the (slippery) conditions. So, that’s all I have for now.
Flickr is being an arse, so I have to use imageshack to upload (WTF happened to my free 100Mb Flickr, eh?)
Takahagi heads Sanfrecce ahead
Pts Pld W D L GF GA GD
1. Urawa Reds 23 P 10 7 - 2 - 1 14 8 +6
2. Kashima Antlers 20 P 9 6 - 2 - 1 13 6 +7
3. Nagoya Grampus 17 P 9 5 - 2 - 2 12 9 +3
4. Gamba Osaka 16 P 9 5 - 1 - 3 22 15 +7
5. Albirex Niigata 16 P 10 4 - 4 - 2 17 13 +4
6. Montedio Yamagata 15 P 10 4 - 3 - 3 14 9 +5
7. Sanfrecce Hiroshima 14 P 10 3 - 5 - 2 19 14 +5
8. Vissel Kobe 13 P 10 4 - 1 - 5 12 15 -3
9. Kawasaki Frontale 12 P 9 3 - 3 - 3 15 11 +4
10. Yokohama F. Marinos 12 P 10 3 - 3 - 4 15 14 +1
11. Omiya Ardija 12 P 10 3 - 3 - 4 15 17 -2
12. Kyoto Sanga F.C. 12 P 10 4 - 0 - 6 10 13 -3
13. Shimizu S-Pulse 12 P 10 2 - 6 - 2 8 11 -3
14. Jubilo Iwata 12 P 10 3 - 3 - 4 14 18 -4
15. FC Tokyo 12 P 10 4 - 0 - 6 12 19 -7
------------------------------------Relegation to Division 2---------------
16. Kashiwa Reysol 9 P 10 1 - 6 - 3 14 18 -4
17. JEF United Chiba 8 P 10 1 - 5 - 4 9 15 -6
18. Oita Trinita 4 P 10 1 - 1 - 8 7 17 -10