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2013-03-30 [J1] Shimizu S-Pulse 0-4 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Posted by stefanole on 2013/04/01

A classic for you: SATO Hisato takes the high road against S-Pulse's AOYAMA Naoaki. Photo taken by me, 2/2010 - stefanole

A classic for you: SATO Hisato takes the high road against S-Pulse’s AOYAMA Naoaki. Photo taken by me, 2/2010 – stefanole

Sanfrecce destroyed a lackluster S-Pulse at Nihondaira in a match that saw Shimizu central defender OKANE Naoya sent off in the second half for two yellow cards.

Shimizu were already in trouble before this match, as they welcomed Hiroshima after having lost their previous game (albeit in the Nabisco Cup) to their arch rivals Jubilo Iwata 5-1 in Iwata. This result was preceded by a second-round defeat 0-5 at home to Yokohama F. Marinos, and draws against Omiya Ardija and Shonan Bellmare.

Sean Carroll wrote before this match that S-Pulse’s manager Afshin GHOTBI was refusing to dwell on the negatives, and praised his young side’s “resilience”. If this form keeps up though, S-Pulse are going to quickly find themselves stuck in J2’s gravity well and will have a long season ahead of them. Ghotbi’s epithetical comments about his side’s “physical advantage” were also a precursor of what was to come, as S-Pulse committed numerous fouls, earning four yellow cards and one red in the process. Such is Shimizu’s plight that the sardonic hashtag “#prayforspulse” began circulating on twitter shortly before the conclusion of the match.


Sanfrecce’s lineup in the match is probably the strongest they can put together, with Nishikawa in goal after warming the bench and enjoying the laser show against Jordan; the defensive trio of Mizumoto, Chiba and Shiotani; Kazu and Aoyama in defensive midfield; Yamagishi and Mikic on the wings; Takahagi and Ishikawa in attacking midfield; and Hisato at the tip of the attacking arrowhead.

I have been reading Zonal Marking and trying to educate myself in the finer points of tactics, so the formation I have here is modified to better reflect the Sanfrecce players’ actual positions. Basically this means that Kazu is shown playing deeper than Aoyama (in fact joining the defence), and similarly Takahagi played deeper than Ishihara did in attack.

Since I managed to catch the whole game, I have also included Shimizu’s starting lineup. The setup is surprisingly defensive for an S-Pulse side, with the defense packed with a back four and two defensive midfielders. It is also a very narrow formation, with the two side-backs generating the only natural width.

2013-03-30_Sanfrecce_Hiroshima v Shimizu


Shimizu’s setup might have worked better if they were able to dominate possession and free the wide-backs up to attack, but this was not the case. The narrow attacking midfielders Kawai and Ishige were thus left to create width by drifting wide, but this in turn allowed Sanfrecce’s Aoyama and Chiba to bypass the center of the pitch and connect directly with the attack, often through Takahagi and the wingers.

Packing the defense was also inefficient for S-Pulse, as it meant that their entire back six were essentially marking Hisato, Takahagi and Ishihara between them. Despite this the three Sanfrecce attackers were still able to find space to move and pass the ball, and this would only become more apparent after Okane’s dismissal.

2013-03-30 S-Pulse Sanfrecce Pitch Diagram

Sanfrecce settled into a slightly defensive posture early in the game, as MORISAKI Kazuyuki dropped back from his defensive midfield position, becoming the “quarto zagueiro“/fourth defender as a counter to S-Pulse’s attacking diamond of Bare, Ishige, Kawai and Hattanda. On the flip side, this left Aoyama free to exploit the space in the middle of this diamond in central midfield. In addition, one of either Yamagishi or Mikic would drop back into the defense under pressure, essentially creating a back five, whilst the other winger would stay in a more advanced position ready for a counter-attack. As Sanfrecce dominated the match more and more, and particularly after the sending off, the wingers dropped back less and Kazu was freed up more to patrol in front of the defense rather than as a part of it.

Match Chronology

Hiroshima started brightly, with Takahagi having a volley saved on 4′ after Shimizu failed to clear the ball following Yamagishi’s attacking run up the left.

Shimizu could have seen their goalkeeper sent off on 8′, as S-Pulse’s Hayashi took out Ishihara on the edge of the penalty area as he connected with a Takahagi pass. Incredibly, even though the goalkeeper made no contact with the ball, the referee didn’t even signal for advantage to Sanfrecce as Yamagishi collected the loose ball, and Hayashi escaped even a yellow card. This blatant foul on Ishihara would unfortunately set the tone for the match, and I lost count of the number of times he was fouled in this game.

The temperature was raised further on 11′, as Ishihara lost the ball on the right to three Shimizu players. S-Pulse’s Bare was dispossessed by a strong tackle from Mizumoto, and Aoyama picked up the loose ball. Shimizu’s Ishige slid past Aoyama with his studs up, and this attempt was followed an extremely clumsy challenge by Calvin JONG-A-PIN, who almost managed to kick Aoyama in the stomach. However, no action was taken by the referee.

This was followed seconds later by another bust-up as Jong-A-Pin appeared to run head-first at Ishihara and just miss punching him in the chest. Several Sanfrecce and S-Pulse players had to be separated by the referee, but play eventually resumed, again with no action taken.

The Sanfrecce goal on 14′ did not come as a surprise, as Hiroshima had been moving the ball intelligently when they were in possession and were efficient at containing and countering Shimizu’s attacks, such as they were. Takahagi was enjoying acres of space on the left, and he moved freely in the space between the S-Pulse midfield and defense. As S-Pulse’s Sugiyama got drawn towards the ball on the right, Takahagi was able to drift left and call for a cross-field pass from Chiba. Takahagi had ample time to wait for attacking runs from Ishihara and Hisato before the former made a diagonal run across the defensive line and dummied the ball. Hisato chipped a one-touch pass between Okane and Jong-a-Pin for Ishihara to run onto, and Ishihara made no mistake as he poked the ball past Hayashi in the S-Pulse goal. The movement between Ishihara and Hisato was too much for the Shimizu defense to keep track of, and would continue to be throughout the match, as one would drop off and the other would surge forward.

Sanfrecce had the ball in the net again on 19′, as the ball was played wide right to Takahagi, who seemed to have the freedom of the entire pitch after switching with Ishihara. Takahagi aimed a powerful low cross at Hisato who deflected the ball in, but he was offside and the goal was disallowed.

Shimizu enjoyed a relative period of possession for about fifteen minutes after this, but there was little penetration to their attacks until a free kick spilled through the penalty area and arrived at Bare’s feet yards from goal. Somehow, he failed to even get a shot away and the ball was scrambled clear.

Sanfrecce were still looking dangerous on the counter-attack though, as demonstrated by Takahagi’s beautiful feint on 29′ that beat two S-Pulse defenders who were converging on him from either side, and he effectively beat two more with a pass to Yamagishi. However, Yamagishi’s touch was heavy and he was pushed off the ball by Jong-a-Pin. Hisato also had a chance for Sanfrecce on 34′, but his overhead kick went over after Ishihara had headed to him from a typical Yamagishi cross pulled back from inside the penalty area.

Okane’s first yellow card came on 37′, as he slid late into Hisato and sliced him down in the center of the pitch. This was followed on 39′ by a tame appeal for a penalty by Shimizu’s Kawai, who went down very easily in the penalty area under pressure from Aoyama as the ball was skipping away from him.

Shimizu looked the more dangerous immediately after the break, and a header from Bare on 50′ had to be tipped away for a corner by Nishikawa after Sugiyama had found himself in space (the downside to Takahagi’s rampaging) and picked out Bare with a lob into the penalty area. A shot from Okane also skidded across the Sanfrecce goalmouth a minute later.

Ishihara went down on 58′ after being stepped on by Takaki, and he was down again a minute later as Okane crashed into him, raking his boot down Ishihara’s leg in the process. Shimizu had managed only three shots to Sanfrecce’s seven at this point, and although the possession was fairly even, Hiroshima were clearly the better team and would only build on their lead as Shimizu went to three at the back. (They would later switch back to four for damage control as Sanfrecce put the game beyond them.)

They wouldn’t take long to do so, as Ishihara was fouled (again) by Jong-a-Pin in the penalty area on 68′. The Takahagi->Hisato->Ishihara short passing combination was again used to devastating effect, as Ishihara was brought down by Jong-a-Pin’s attempted sliding tackle as he ran onto Hisato’s pass. Hisato made no mistake with the penalty, placing it low to the keeper’s right to make it 0-2 to Sanfrecce.

The game was pretty much over at this point, and Poichi took the opportunity to protect Takahagi by replacing him with Notsuda. Sanfrecce then went straight up the pitch and scored again on 73′, this time from a Yamagishi corner. Shiotani attempted a header at goal but it went straight at Hisato, who showed incredible reflexes and skill to head the ball back across the goal to Mizumoto, who managed to slice it into the back of the net.

Notsuda demonstrated some potential as he collected a Kazu pass wide on the left on 74′ and crossed first-time for Hisato, but the captain mistimed his jump and headed the ball over. Sanfrecce continued to threaten another goal as they continually passed and probed, with Mikic and Aoyama showing off their passing abilities with forward balls that Hisato and Ishihara were just unable to capitalize on.

The fourth goal seemed almost inevitable by 81′ as Mikic charged up the right after spotting a huge hole behind the Shimizu defense and signalling wildly to Ishihara to pass him the ball. Ishihara obliged and sent Mikic charging towards the goal, where he cut the ball square to Notsuda, who found himself unmarked despite there being two Shimizu defenders in his vicinity. Notsuda was unable to make the most of his opportunity however as he shot straight at the goalkeeper, and looked furious with himself after Hisato had put the loose ball into the net. Hisato was outside the penalty area and twelve yards away from the ball as the goalkeeper saved it, and yet he was still able to draw on his experience to pounce on the loose ball before the flat-footed Shimizu defense could react from two yards away.

Mikic seemed determined to set-up Notsuda for a goal and he tried again on 85′ as Sanfrecce monopolized the possession, but Notsuda was unable to get in a good shot.

By the end of the match S-Pulse were reduced to shooting on sight, and Poichi was comfortable enough in the result to give KAWABE Hayao his pro début for Sanfrecce after only signing a professional contract five days previously. He even had a chance to score right on 90′ as Mikic floated a wonderful diagonal cross to him on the six yard box, but he was expecting the defender to head it clear and was surprised when the ball bounced off him and into the arms of the goalkeeper. Kawabe will be kicking himself when his coach reminds him that is why you have to anticipate the defender missing the ball, not assume he will clear it.

Sanfrecce ended the match with fifteen shots to S-Pulse’s four, which pretty much sums up this match. Sanfrecce next play Pohang Steelers (ROK) in the ACL on April 2.

Goals: Ishihara 14′, Hisato (Pen) 69′, Mizumoto 73′, Hisato 82′.
Subs: Notsuda (Takahagi 72′), Nakajima (Aoyama 83′), Kawabe (Hisato 86′).
Attendance: 13,137

Other News

Sanfrecce Youth finished fourth in the 2013 Sanix International Youth Cup. Sanfrecce Youth beat Higashi Fukuoka HS 2-0 in the first group match, beat Truro and Penwith College (England) 5-1 in the second, and lost to Hosho HS (Miyazaki) in the third group match, but still qualified second in group B. In the quarter-final, Sanfrecce Youth beat Kyushu International University HS 2-1, and in the semi-final they drew 2-2 with Gamba Osaka Youth, but then went down 2-4 on penalties. Gamba Youth would go on to win the tournament 2-0 by beating Seiryo HS (Ishikawa). Sanfrecce Youth lost on penalties again in the third-place match, 3-4, to Miura Gakuen (Kanagawa). Sanfrecce’s 4th place was better than Vietnam U17 (6th), Aomori Yamada HS (10th) and Japan U17 (13th).

As well as KAWABE Hayao, who made his pro-début in this match, MIYAHARA Kazuya also recently signed a professional contract with Sanfrecce. Both players came up through the Sanfrecce system from Junior Youth, and are proud alumni of Sanfrecce Youth’s 2011 and 2012 Prince Takamado Cup Champion sides (Sanfrecce Youth have won the top youth trophy for the past three years straight). They and are both listed as right-footed midfielders.



One Response to “2013-03-30 [J1] Shimizu S-Pulse 0-4 Sanfrecce Hiroshima”

  1. […] 2013-03-30 [J1] Shimizu S-Pulse 0-4 Sanfrecce Hiroshima […]

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