Montedio Yamagata 1 – 0 Kawasaki Frontale
Montedio Yamagata were still looking for their first win since being promoted to J1. In both of their first matches, they were defeated by a 2 goal margin.
Starting Formation: 3-6-1
Player I focused on: Diego (ST)
Kawasaki Frontale has 4 points from 2 matches getting a win in the Kanagawa Derby over Yokohama F Marinos 3-1 and drawing with Vissel Kobe 2-2. With 5 goals in their first 2 matches, their offensive power was be a point of interest for this match.
Starting Formation: 3-6-1
Player I focused on: Kengo Nakamura (CM)
Montedio had 2 shots within the first 10 minutes of the match. Kawasaki’s first real chance came around the 15th minute when Yoshito Okubo took a shot from just outside of the penalty area, but his shot went over goal. Yu Kobayashi then created Kawasaki’s next chance with a shot from a 45 degree angle, but Montedio GK Norihiro Yamagishi makes the save.
Kawasaki CB Makoto Kakuta took a 35 meter free kick with the wind at his back, but his shot lacked accuracy and went flying into row Z. Frontale’s midfield playmaker Kengo Nakamura then took a mid-ranged shot, but it went over the crossbar. During this span between the 10th minute and 20th minute of the first half, Kawasaki looked to find their feet playing away at Yamagata.
In the 25th minute, a slight rain started to fall with the relatively strong wind. With the wind at his back, Kengo Nakamura tried playing a few balls over-the-top of Montedio’s back line, but Montedio’s defenders coped well.
The first clear-cut chance of the match fell to Yamagata when Right WB Tetsuya Funatsu sent in a low, early cross from the right flank. The cross found its way to left MF Byeom-yong Kim inside of the penalty area, but he flubbed his shot to waste the chance. A few minutes later, Yamagata’s ST Diego picked up the ball after Kawasaki’s defender misplayed the ball. Diego hit a one time shot, but Kawasaki’s GK Yohei Nishibe made the save. Diego then had another golden opportunity. After playing a one-two with Masato Yamazaki, Diego hit his shot to the far post, but the shot was slightly deflected by a Kawasaki defender and the ball went out for a corner kick.
1st Half Observations:
1. Yamagata’s attackers put high-pressure on Kawasaki’s back 3. This put pressure on Kawasaki’s back 3 and they made mistakes, but Yamagata were not able to convert their chances.
2. Yamagata’s high-press from their attackers creates space between the defensive line → midfielders and also the midfielders → attackers.
3. Kawasaki’s Kengo Nakamura was able to receive the ball in the space between Montedio’s midfielders and attackers, but Kawasaki could not link enough passes to build up from the midfield. This is probably why Nakamura attempted to play balls over-the-top of Montedio’s defensive line.
4. Yamagata’s players also get behind the ball when Kawasaki has possession around the danger zone. This is when Kawasaki were able to take mid-ranged shots, but they all went over the crossbar (possibly because of the strong wind).
Keys for Success in the 2nd Half:
For Montedio Yamagata: CONVERT CHANCES
For Kawasaki Frontale: FIND SPACE AND LINK PASSES QUICKLY
Kawasaki’s AM Renato takes a fall in Yamagata’s penalty area, but the referee isn’t convinced by Renato’s appeals for a PK, and play goes on. Okubo found himself with space in front of him and he takes a mid-ranged shot, but it goes over.
Kawasaki looked to get momentum in the match, but Yamagata’s kept playing high-pressure. Yamagata’s Takefumi Toma put pressure on Frontale’s midfielder and was able to tackle. Toma’s teammate Yamazaki picked up the ball and he took a shot, but the shot went wide of the near post. In the 60th minute, Montedio ST Diego took a shot from outside of the penalty area with the wind at his back, but it just went over the crossbar.
In the 62 minute, Frontale’s Kobayashi, who was scheduled to join the Japanese National Team to prepare for friendlies, went down after trying to find space on a counterattack. He went down grabbing his hamstring. In my opinion, it looks to be a pulled muscle. As he wasn’t even able to walk off of the pitch under his own power, he looks to be out for at least a month. I can only speculate that the chilly, rainy, windy night could be a factor. To replace Kobayashi, former Cerezo Osaka ST Kenyu Sugimoto came on. Because Kenyu can only play ST, Okubo dropped into the AM role Kobayashi was in.
In the 68th minute, Yamagata Manager Nobuhiro Ishizaki decides to take of AM/ST Yamazaki and put in MF Shun Ito. By putting on a player with fresh legs at this point in the match, Yamagata was able to keep putting high-pressure on Kawasaki Frontale and Ito’s dribbling and passing also created problems for Kawasaki.
Yamagata’s Kim breaks the deadlock with a low, powerful volley from outside of Frontale’s penalty area. Kim hit the ball off the slippery grass and Frontale’s GK Nishibe had no time to react to such a powerful shot. Ito then showed some nice technique by getting past a Frontale defender. He then slotted a nice lead pass to Funatsu, who sent a cross to Diego. Diego got his head on the cross, but it just went wide of the far post.
Okubo takes a direct shot from outside of the penalty area, but a Montedio defender gets a touch on it and the ball goes out for a corner kick.
Montedio’s Kawanishi had a clear-cut chance after Diego used his skill to get by a defender. Diego looked like he was about to take a shot, but Kawanishi took the chance for himself, but his shot went wide. With less than 10 minutes left in the match, Kim gets a muscle cramp but shakes it off and goes back on the pitch. However, he is substituted and Toshiya Takagi makes his J1 debut. With this substitution, Yamagata went from a 3-6-1 to a 4-5-1; meaning that they went into a formation to kill the game off.
2nd Half Observations:
1. Yamagata’s Kim has a very high work rate, which is an attribute of all Korean footballers, and looked menacing at times. His handwork throughout the match was topped of with a fine goal.
2. The majority of Kawasaki Frontale’s chances were mid-ranged shots.
3. Yamagata was able to keep playing their high-pressure game.
4. ST Diego dropped into the midfield after Montedio changed their system. The reason for this was to keep a fresher Ito up top to keep pressure on Kawasaki’s defenders and also just in case they could have launched a quick counterattack.
1. Yamagata Montedio looked like the more dangerous team throughout the match. Their high-pressure helped them create clear-cut chances, while preventing Kawasaki from creating their own chances.
2. Frontale’s Okubo took the majority of the team’s shots. Okubo did not have much service from his midfield because of Yamagata get pressure on Kawasaki’s midfield.
3. Frontale’s playmaker Kengo Nakamura was invisible. If he doesn’t have the ball at his feet, Manager Yahiro Kazama’s “attacking soccer” is nonexistent.
4. If Yamagata can consistently play as they did tonight, they have a good chance of staying in J1.
5. Player of the Match: Montedio’s Byeom-yong Kim
Next fixtures (April 4th):
Montedio Yamagata will host last season’s J2 Champions Shonan Bellmare. Shonan started off their 2015-2016 campaign with a convincing win against “title contenders” Kashima Antlers. This weekend, Shonan drew with Vegelta Sendai 0-0.
Kawasaki Frontale will play Albirex Niigata at home. Niigata got a big win against Kashiwa Reysol this week. Kawasaki did not look convincing against Montedio Yamagata, so it will be interesting to see how Frontale comeback from this match.