2009-10-03 Shimizu S-Pulse 1-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Posted by stefanole on 2009/10/14
Sanfrecce’s title charge looks to have stalled as they held S-Pulse to a drew at the Nihondaira.
Defensive mainstay Ilyan STOYANOV was absent again for Sanfrecce, but the defensive midfield was strengthened by the return of MORISAKI Kazuyuki after a long absence due to injury.
Hisato struck first for Hiroshima, as he got the jump on the defensive line and deflected another high-quality Mikic cross underneath Yamamoto in the Shimizu goal.
It didn’t take too long for Japan international Okazaki to even the score however, as he directed a perfectly weighted header back across the goal and into the far corner, incidentally from the same kind of long-ball that Shimizu fans complained that Hiroshima too often resorted to.
Kashiwagi came close to blasting Sanfrecce ahead, as Takayanagi showed uncharacteristic determination under pressure to hold up the ball, which allowed Kashiwagi to time his run.
It wouldn’t be Sanfrecce without a few interesting moments however, specifically whenever young goalkeeper Nakabayashi goes near the ball. He was lucky to get away with being caught in possession of the ball by Okazaki in the first half, the intercepted ball ricocheting just past the post.
In the second half, he struggled to deal with the aerial threat of S-Pulse’s tall Norwegian forward Frode JOHNSEN, and almost conceded a goal as Johnsen out-jumped him to another Shimizu long-ball forward. Makino showed he is beginning to settle into his new position at centre-back in Stoyanov’s absence however, as he had the presence of mind to guard the goal-line and clear the ball just in case Nakabayashi did something foolish, like try to catch the ball off the head of a gaijin striker who is fully a foot taller than him.
Incidentally, I was surprised to see Moriwaki covering for Stoyanov in the centre of defence in the previous game against Niigata, as the obvious choice seemed to be Makino. Since he is not particularly tall, not a particularly good tackler, and has a mind that is quite prone to wandering off unaccompanied, Moriwaki doesn’t seem to have any of the qualities required in a centre back. The only rationalisation I could come up with to explain Petrovic’s decision to stick Moriwaki there was that maybe he preferred to keep Makino out wide where he could continue to participate in attacks up the left, where he is as potent as any of Sanfrecce’s attacking players. The basic idea in football though is to score more goals that the other side, and I suppose that Petrovic has realised that the confusion at the heart of defence that was evident with Moriwaki marshalling the back line is likely to tip the balance against Sanfrecce more than Makino’s attacking skill would be able to compensate for. I’m sure it all seems so obvious from the stands, but I am much more comfortable with MORITA’s experience partnered with Makino’s positional ability, tackling and basic determination in the middle over Moriwaki’s dazed-and-confused style of defending.
Anyway, this would be all rendered academic with Stoyanov’s return to the side. It is looking more and more like this will be necessary if Sanfrecce are going to be able to clinch an Asian Champions League place for next year (i.e. a top-three finish). After winning 20 out of a possible 24 points in the last eight games before his absence, Sanfrecce have now failed to win in three and have two points from a possible nine. A home tie against Gamba Osaka (a team who need no introduction to viewers of last year’s FIFA Club World Cup) beckons on the 17th, and it’s a match Sanfrecce look unlikely to win without our favourite Bulgarian.
18,205 (J-League average 19,278**)
HISATO 30′ (0-1)
Okazaki 45′ (1-1)
TAKAHAGI (KASHIWAGI 67′)
YOKOTAKE (KAZU 77′)
LEE (TAKAYANAGI 83′)
MORIWAKI (YC, 38′)
Stoyanov misses his third game with a head injury. Makino covers at centre-back. Kazu replaces Nakajima in defensive midfield.
*Average home attendance for Sanfrecce for total of preceding games in J1 in 2009.
**Average attendance for J1 in the 2008 season.