[Match Report] Kashima Antlers vs. Vissel Kobe

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Kashima Antlers 1 – 2 Vissel Kobe

Pre-Match:

Kashima Antlers:
After a disappointing start to the season, Kashima are starting to put in some good performances.  Their last 3-1 win against Kashiwa Reysol away from home is evidence of that.  After their first 6 fixtures, Kashima are tied with Nagoya Grampus Eight for 8th place.  In their first 3 matches, where they were winless, Kashima looked to lack that killer instinct needed in front of goal.  This is because their main striker Yuya Osako transferred to the German Bundesliga club 1860 Munchen last June.  However, young captain and full-international Gaku Shibasaki is looking to lead his club high in the standings by bossing the midfield.  Mu Kanazaki has also been looking good as of late after returning to the J.League after a few seasons playing overseas.

Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1

Player I focused on: ST Mu Kanazaki – He is showing glimpses of the great potential he has. The 26 year old striker was once a huge prospect, but his development slowed after a move to Germany.  However, I think he is regaining the confidence he once had, and his decisiveness will be a key for Kashima.

Vissel Kobe:
Before matches go underway today, Vissel Kobe are even on points with Kashima; however, Kashima have the edge on goals scores, so Vissel are currently 10th place in the league.  Like Kashima, Kobe also got of to a slow start to the season; not winning a match in their first 3 matches. However, a solid 1-0 victory over Sanfrecce Hiroshima away from home and a strong 4-1 thumping of Ventforet Kofu showed that Kobe has talent.

Starting Formation: 3-4-2-1 (3-4-3)

Player I focused on: MF Ryota Morioka – Vissel Kobe’s playmaker.  He has great technique and vision; so, he has the ability to break open defenses in the blink of an eye.  If he is given time on the ball, he will punish Kashima’s defense.  His match up against Kashima’s Gaku Shibasaki is also something to look forward to.

1st Half:

7th minute: Vissel Kobe – FW Isizu was able to turn past two Kashima midfielders and passed the ball out wide.  The ball was then crossed into the box where a Kashima defender mis-cleared the ball.  Kobe ST Marquinhos then tried an audacious overhead kick which went straight to the keeper.

First 10 minutes: Both teams are still trying to create their own rhythm and impose their presence on the match.

11th minute: Vissel Kobe – MF Morioka picks the ball up outside of Kashima’s penalty area and unleashes a vicious left footed shot, but it goes over the crossbar.

13th minute: Vissel Kobe – FW Ishizu is creating problems for Kashima’s defense because of his agility and quickness.

17th minute: Kashima Antlers – MF Shibasaki’s misplaced pass which went straight to a Vissel FW

18th minute: Kashima found space on the right side of the pitch and Shibasaki made a slicing run through Kobe’s defense into the penalty area.  The ball is crossed into Shibasaki and he gets off a right footed volley, but it goes wide.

28th minute: While trying to gain position and space on Kashima’s ST Kanazaki, Kobe DF and captain Wu-young Jung clips Kanazaki from behind a receives a yellow card. Kashima cannot make take advantage of the ensuing free kick.

33rd minute: Vissel Kobe – Playmaker Morioka gets injured and is not able to continue.
36th minute Substitution: Hideo Tanaka on for Morioka

45th minute: Vissel Kobe MF Tanaka drags down Kashima MF Doi and Tanaka then (unintentionally) clips Doi while Doi is on the ground.  Doi is not happy about this and gets in Tanaka’s face.  The referee calms both players down and play resumes.

1st Half Observations:

1. Kashima Antlers – Shibasaki’s play as a box-to-box midfielder is becoming more dynamic.  His runs into the penalty area are more dangerous because he seems to have gained a sense for when to time his run and where to run.

2. Vissel Kobe – I their 3-4-2-1 (3-4-3) formation, Vissel’s wide midfielders drop deep while on defense.  They drop to the point where they are in wing back positions.  This is to prevent Kashima’s wingers and striker from finding space which would be available because of the space open on either flank of the CB’s the 3-4-3 formationーone weakness of a 3-4-3 formation.

3. Kashima Antlers – ST Kanazaki is playing very physically against Kobe’s back 3.  He unintentionally elbowed Jung and Jung needed to get bandaged on his head.  Kanazaki then posted up strongly against Iwanami and Iwanami was sent to the ground.

4. So far, this match is lacking clear-cut opportunities.  This is because each team is well-balanced and are canceling each other out.  This means that the team that is more creative on offense will win this match.  In my eyes, Vissel Kobe look more threatening than Kashima Antlers.

Keys for Success in the 2nd Half:

For Kashima Antlers:
1.  Utilize the flanks.  Because Kobe’s wide midfielders are playing deep on defense (see 1st half observations #2), Kashima needs to utilize the flanks more to draw Kobe’s tight defense out of position.  To do this, Kashima’s side backs should make more overlapping runs.

2. In order to accomplish #1, Kashima needs to keep possession of the ball in more advanced positions on the pitch.

3. More off-the-ball movement on offense.  When Kashima is passing the ball along their own back line or deep in the midfield, their attacking players are standing for the majority of the time.  This is making it easier to defend for Vissel.

For Vissel Kobe:
1. Use FW’s Ishizu and Ogawa more effectively in the channels.  Ishizu has especially been giving problems for Kashima’s defense.

2. More combination play between Marquinhos and other FW’s.  Marquinhos is playing like a false nine because he drops deeper into midfield in order to receive the ball while Ishizu and Ogawa stay in advanced areas up the pitch.

3. Cope with playmaker Morioka not being in the match.  Tanaka, who came on for Morioka, is also a playmaker, but Tanaka does not have the creativity Morioka possesses.

4. Keep up the organized defending.  Kobe is doing a good job staying organized on defense.

2nd Half:

45th minute Substitution: Kashima Antlers – MF Mitsuo Ogasawara on for MF Takeshi Aoki

49th minute: Vissel Kobe – GOAL – Ball was sent to Marquinhos who was wide open on the far post.  He then used his vision to spot fellow FW Ogawa on the opposite side of the penalty area and used his head to send the ball across of the goal. Ogawa then made no mistake inside of the 6 yard box.  Nice combination play which saw Vissel Kobe pull and drag Kashima Antlers’ defenders out of position.

Kashima Antlers 0 – 1 Vissel Kobe

56th minute Substitution: Kashima Antlers – DF Yukitoshi Ito on for DF Shuto Yamamoto

57th minute – Vissel Kobe – DF Masukawa takes a knock and looks unable to continue.

58th minute Substitution: Vissel Kobe – DF Shohei Takahashi on for DF Takahiro Masukawa

59th minute – Vissel Kobe – FW Ishizu takes a shot, which has a lot of movement, and GK Sogahata is forced to punch over the crossbar.

63th minute – Kashima Antlers – Caio recieves the ball with space around and in front of him in midfield.  He drives up the center of the pitch and takes a mid-ranged shot toward Kobe’s

64th minute: Kashima Antlers – ST Kanazaki is obviously not pleased with VIssel Kobe’s DF Iwanami.  Iwanami jumped over the back of Kanazaki to win a head, which should have been a foul on Iwanami, but the referee let play go on and Iwanami fell to the ground.  Iwanami complained to the referee for a fould and Kanazaki went over to give Iwanami.  Then, there was a face-to-face between both players, then another Kobe player went over to Kanazaki and looked to try and instigate something.  In the end, Kanazaki receives a yellow card.

70th minute Substitution: Kashima Antlers – FW Hiroyuki Takasaki on for Caio

71st minute: Kashima Antlers – GOAL – Shibasaki passes to substitute Takasaki.  Takasaki dropped the ball back with a one touch pass back to Shibasaki. Shibasaki then hit the ball with his left foot outside of the penalty area.  His shot is nicely placed into the far post.

Kashima Antlers 1 – 1 Vissel Kobe

77th minute: Vissel Kobe – GOAL – Kashima Antlers’ GK Sogahata and FW Takasaki get their signals mixed after Kobe’s ST Marquinhos heads the ball straight up in the air after a corner kick. Sogahata and Takasaki’s blunder leads to the ball falling to Vissel’s Tanaka who places the ball into an open goal.

Kashima Antlers 1 – 2 Vissel Kobe

82nd minute: Kashima Antlers – Kanazaki takes a shot after frantic play inside of Kobe’s penalty area.  Kanazaki’s shot beats Kobe’s GK but is clear off the line by a defender.  Kanazaki appeals that the ball crossed the line and should be a goal, but the assistant referee did not signal a goal and play continue.  It was a difficult call to make and it did look like it could have been a goal.

89th minute Substitution: Vissel Kobe – DF Ryo Okui on for DF Shunki Takahashi

94th minute: Kashima Antlers – RED CARD – ST Mu Kanazaki – Kanazaki walks directly into a Vissel Kobe defender after a stoppage of play in side of Kobe’s penalty area.  It looked like Kanazaki gave the player a small headbutt and the defender went down.  Kanazaki already had a yellow card, so he receives his second yellow card of the match and gets his marching orders.  On his way off the pitch, Kanazaki pushes a Kobe player out of his way and also pushes a teammate.

2nd Half Observations:

1. Vissel Kobe came out of the blocks aggressively in the 2nd half.  This caught Kashima off guard and Vissel were able to break the deadlock.

2. Kashima Antlers: Kanazaki had a hot head today.  He got into a few confrontations with a few Kobe players.  This is probably due to frustration because he did not get great service and could not create chances because of Kobe’s tight, organized defense.

3. Kashima Antlers: Manager Toninho Cerezo makes the decision to take off the dangerous Caio for Takasaki.  Caio was looking useful on offense because he used his skill to get past defenders, but Takasaki was able to

Overall Observations:

1. Kashima could not cope with Kobe’s quick attacks.  FW Ishizu looked extremely dangerous throughout the match.  Ishizu’s aggressiveness in the attacking third of the pitch was one of Kobe’s keys for victory today.

2. Kashima lacked sharpness on the ball.  Shibasaki did grab a goal, but the players around him were not able to create much on offense.  Caio did look dangerous when he was isolated, but not couldn’t combine with other attacking players.

3. I focused on Kashima’s Mu Kanazaki because I felt that if he was able to perform, Kashima would have a good chance of winning the match.  Kanazaki lost his head and ended up getting ejected from the match.  Manager Cerezo keeping him on the pitch was a gamble.  It is a possibility that Manager Cerezo thought Kanazaki’s fire would lead to a goal, but it ended up with a red card.

4. Kashima Antlers’ weakness – playing against quick, aggressive teams.  As mentioned earlier, Kashima lost against Shonan Bellmare.  Kobe and Bellmare play with similar 3-4-3 systems.  Also, Kashima drew with Niigata, who play quickly and also aggressively, but in a 4-4-2 system.

5. Vissel Kobe deserved the three points today because of their high work rate and determination.  They were also able to make Kashima pay for GK Sogahata and FW Takasaki’s mistake.

Player of the Match: Kobe Vissel – FW Daisuke Ishizu

Next fixtures (April 29th):

Kashima Antlers:
vs. Vegalta Sendai away.

Sendai lost away to Matsumoto Yamgaga 1-0 this afternoon.

As I mentioned in Overall Observations #4, Kashima have difficulty in dealing with quick and aggressive teams.  Sendai is not as quick and aggressive as Kobe, but Sendai have been competitive this season. Kashima will need to regroup and rethink tactics if they want 3 points from this match.

Vissel Kobe:
vs. Nagoya Grampus Eight at home.

One of Vissel’s key players, DF Wu-young Jung, will not be available for this vital match of these two mid-table teams.

Until there is a report on what happened to MF Morioka, it is difficult to say whether or not he will be able to play this match.

DF Masukawa had to be substituted because of injury, so Kobe will have to deal with the possibility of not only losing Jung in their back line.

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