Matsumoto Yamaga 1 – 2 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Tonight saw a very experienced J1 team against a team that has been promoted very quickly through the ranks of Japanese soccer.
A lot of people probably predict Matsumoto Yamaga will go back down to J2 next season. I think not. Matsumoto Yamaga are similar to Sagan Tosu in the fact that both teams fight from the start to the death. In other words, they have tremendous work rate. Yamaga’s opening match against Nagoya Grampus Eight was an absolute cracker! 3-3! Yamaga showed glimpses that they belong in J1, but showed their lack of experience by conceding a few very preventable goals, but that’s part of the learning experience.
Yamaga faced off against Sanfrecce Hiroshima, which is the most well-rounded team in the league in my eyes. They play a 3-6-1 formation, which coincidentally is the same tactic Yamaga plays with, and this gives them a numerical advantage in the midfield against other teams. In addition, Hisato Sato playing the lone striker creates a lot of problems for opposing defenders. His movement and sense for goal is the best in the league. Even though he has lost the goalscoring king title to Yoshito Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale) the past 2 season, Sato is always in the running.
I’m going to point out what I felt was a mistake by the center official Nobutsugu Murakami. In lost time of the first half, Hiroshima was awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. Koji Morisaki took the kick after his teammate ran a dummy play slightly touching the ball toward Morisaki. To kick was blocked by a defender in the wall, which looked like it could have been a handball, but Murakami called the play back and gave one of the Yamaga player’s a yellow card for encroachment, meaning he moved towards that ball within the 10 yard/meter zone. However, it is not encroachment if a player touches the ball, which did happen.
Manager Yasuharu Sorimachi was obviously not pleased with the call and was not afraid to say so during his brief halftime interview.
The second half did see Yamaga go more attacking, but they were not able to put away their few, valuable chances. Hiroshima did have many chances, but were also not able to put them away.
Matsumoto Yamaga’s next opponent: Shimizu S Pulse
Shimizu S Pulse escaping relegation and seeing one of their bright stars Toshiyuki Takagi transfer to the Urawa Reds, I think Matsumoto Yamaga has their best chance to win their first match in J1.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s next opponent: Urawa Reds
This match is easily the most intriguing. Urawa’s foundation is built with players who have a connection with Hiroshima: Tomoaki Makino, Ryota Moriwaki, Yosuke Kashiwagi, Naoki Ishihara, Tadanari Lee. These players are players who could, and in the past have, play(ed) for the full national team. Urawa has won their first 2 matches against weaker opponents, but this is a team that plays really well when they have momentum. If they matured from their disappointing finish last season, where they were in control of their own destiny of winning the J1 title but collapsed under pressure, they will make a stronger push for the title.
I know; this post was not much of a review of the Matsumoto Yamaga vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima match compared to the FC Tokyo vs. Yokohama F Marinos match. This is because FC Tokyo and the Marinos are the two teams I have watched the most over the years.