[Match Report] FC Tokyo vs. Yokohama F Marinos

FC Tokyo 0 – 0 Yokohama F Marinos

New manager of the Japanese National Team, Vahid Halilhodžić, was in the stands to watch this match. For some odd reason, for long periods of time throughout the match, there was a little section on the top left corner of the broadcast showing Manager Halilhodžić’s every move.  I have seen broadcasts where national team managers would be on screen temporarily multiple times throughout a match, but this was a first.

Putting my dissatisfaction with the Japanese mass media and how they deal with soccer, I was also quite disappointed with the match.

FC Tokyo came out with a 4-3-1-2 formation with 3 deep central midfielders and Hiroki Kawano as the CAM (central attacking mid).

Yokohama F Marinos came out with a 4-2-3-1 with Manabu Saito playing a shadow striker role in under newly acquired Ademilson.

Both teams worked on shoring up their defense and that was apparent throughout the match.

FC Tokyo had one clear cut chance when Muto saw his header smash the crossbar. Other than this chance, Yokohama F Marinos had FC Tokyo’s offense under control.

On the other hand, Yokohama F Marinos looked more dangerous on the attack, especially Manabu Saito who showed flashes of his speed and skill on the ball.  If it wasn’t for FC Tokyo’s GK Shuichi Gonda, Marinos would have won the match.  Gonda put in a man of the match worthy performance in the goal for FC Tokyo because he made more than a few key saves to keep FC Tokyo in the match.

Over the years, I have been quite critical of both these teams and that has not changed.

1. About FC Tokyo:
I cannot say that I agree with Manager Massimo Ficcadenti’s decision to start Kawano as CAM because Kawano does not have the playmaking ability or composure to run FC Tokyo’s offense. If Keigo Higashi can finally fulfill his potential, he would be the perfect fit for the CAM position. However, Higashi has not grown into the player I expected, so I think Yohei Kajiyama is the player to build FC Tokyo’s midfield around in the CAM position. He has composure, good vision and passing skill, and he is also good in the tackle. His defensive ability in the CAM position is a key element for FC Tokyo becoming a more balanced squad.

2. About Yokohama F Marinos:
New Manager Erick Mombaerts might be the person to turn around Yokohama F Marinos’ bad run in the J.League.  He started Fabio, normally a CB (Center Back), as a DM (Defensive Midfielder) and I think this is a good decision to stabilize a sometimes stable Marinos midfield.  However, playing Shingo Hyodo out on the left wing seemed to be an experiment in my eyes, and it did not go very well.  Hyodo doesn’t have the speed or technique to create chances on the wing, usually where Saito plays.  At the moment, Marinos icon Shunsuke Nakamura is still out of the team because of surgery, so I think Jungo Fujimoto can slide in the the CAM position where Saito played and play Saito in his natural position on the wing.

Yokohama F Marinos has a tendency toward favoring “the old guard” in Nakamura and Yuji Nakazawa aka “Bomber”. I am not against that, but this is killing the future of Yokohama F Marinos soccer.  I always bring up Aria Jasuru Hasegawa (Aria) as an example. He was brought up in the Marinos system only to be transferred to FC Tokyo, where he showed good potential and even got a few call-ups to the full national team.  He then made transfer to an exciting Cerezo Osaka squad. There, he teamed up with Takahiro Ohgihara and Hotaru Yamaguchi in the midfield with Takumi Minamino, Yoichiro Kakitani, and Kenyu Sugimoto playing up top. This team was LOADED. Yet, after Kakitani left for Basel FC and even though superstar Diego Forlan joined the team, they still find themselves in J2 this season.  I may have gone off track here, but the point I want to make is that the Marinos had a great player in Aria. He is a creative and hardworking player that the current Marinos really need.

All in all, I think Gonda’s performance earned him a call-up to the national team at the end of the month. Also, Muto and maybe Saito.

FC Tokyo’s next opponent: Vissel Kobe
Not an easy match because Kobe has a strong midfield playmaker in Ryota Morioka.

Yokohama F Marinos’ opponent: Sagan Tosu
Tosu has become somewhat of a power in the J.League over the past few seasons. They play with conviction and purpose, which is rare to see in J.League squads.  The Marinos will have their hands full trying to keep up with the high-paced Sagan Tosu.

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