[Match Report] Sagan Tosu vs. Vissel Kobe

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Sagan Tosu 1 – 1 Vissel Kobe


The night match today sees 6th place Sagan Tosu play 10th place Vissel Kobe at home.  A battle versus two mid-table teams that want to make moves up the table.  This match can go either way because Sagan can score goals, but want to avenge the 4-2 loss against Shonan Bellmare last Wednesday.  On the other hand, Vissel Kobe also want to come out with a win tonight after losing 1-0 against struggling Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Sagan Tosu:

With Yohei Toyoda leading the attack, Sagan is lethal.  Toyoda has scored in Sagan’s last 4 matches and is tied for 2nd on top of the J.League scoring charts.

Starting Formation: 4-4-2
Player I focused on: MF Kota Mizunuma – Mizunuma is a good playmaker for Tosu, but he needs to get more touches on the ball so he can influence the game more.  He is best when receiving the ball in advanced positions on the pitch; so, defensive support from CMs Fujita and Takahashi is very important.

Vissel Kobe:

Wu-young Jung is back in the starting lineup after sitting out the last match because of yellow card accumulation.  However, midfield playmaker Ryota Morioka is still out due to injury.  A key for Vissel is transition because Sagan can launch quick counters.  Therefore, balance in the midfield is something to highlight.

Starting Formation: 3-4-3 (3-4-2-1)
Player I focused on: MF Hideo Tanaka – Replacing Morioka in midfield and also taking over the playmaking responsibility.  He is not as creative and technically gifted as Morioka, but he has a sense for goal.

1st Half:

4th minute: Sagan Tosu – GOAL – Captain Fujita sends his corner kick to the top of the 6 yard box where ST Toyoda is.  Toyoda uses his strength and power to get his head on the ball and scores.

Sagan Tosu 1 – 0 Vissel Kobe

First 10 minutes: Tosu converted on their only chance.  Since then, Kobe has been in possession of the ball and looking to break through Tosu’s defense.

12th minute: Sagan Tosu – MF Mizunuma picks the ball up after a Kobe defender carelessly loses the ball deep in their own middle third.  Mizunuma then sends a pin-point cross to Min-woo Kim, who meets the cross with his head, but his headers goes just wide.

14th minute: Sagan Tosu – ST Sung-dong Baek gets the ball after another careless loss of possession by Kobe.  Baek then takes a mid-ranged shot but it goes wide.

35th minute: Vissel Kobe – MF Soma takes a mid-ranged shot, but it goes high and wide.  Soma has taken both of Kobe’s shots this half, but they were only half-chances to say the least.

37th minute: Sagan Tosu – Toyoda knocks the ball down for Sung-dong Baek and he beats a defender and takes the ball into the penalty area. He takes a shot with the outside of his food, but Kobe captain Jung recovers and Baek cannot get power behind his shot.

1st Half Observations:

1. Kobe is putting pressure and going in hard on Tosu’s Toyoda.  This is to prevent Toyoda from bringing his teammates into the game to create chances.

2. Kobe’s FW Kenjiro Ogawa looks to be their most dangerous player on the pitch.  He has pace, technique, and good finishing.

3. From the around the 25 minute mark, both teams have started to cancel each other out.  Meaning, the match has turned into a chess match.  A lot of passes going horizontally to pull the opposing team’s players to one side of the field, then he occasional long direct pass to the front line.

4. Vissel Kobe has more possession, but cannot do anything meaningful with the ball.  However, Tosu has not been able to launch any dangerous counterattacks.  This is probably why Min-woo Kim has been quiet this half.

5. Kobe’s Hideo Tanaka is playing deep in the midfield, so he is not in a position to create scoring opportunities.

Keys for Success in the 2nd Half:

For Sagan Tosu:

1. Tosu is finding players in dangerous areas around Kobe’s penalty area.  If they continue doing this in the 2nd half, they will create more scoring chances.

2. However, the players receiving the passes have their backs to goal, so they need to find players and lead them to goal.

For Vissel Kobe:

1. “Change gears” when entering the attacking third.  Kobe’s strength is their ability to quickly turn a controlled possession into a quick, aggressive attack.  They need to use Ogawa and work the space to get Tosu’s defenders on their heels.

2. Stop losing possession in dangerous areas.  There were multiple situations where a Kobe player lost possession in a danger zone and Tosu took advantage by launching a short counter.

2nd Half:

46th minute Substitution: Vissel Kobe – DF Kunie Kitamoto on for MF Hideo Tanaka

First 10 minutes: Kobe is having more possession of the ball and taking looking dangerous to score and tie the match.

62nd minute: Vissel Kobe – Attacks utilizing wide players are proving to be effective in opening up Sagan’s defense.  Kobe wins a free kick on the left side of the pitch, but the ball is punched clear by Sagan GK Akahoshi.

77th minute: Vissel Kobe – GOAL – Marquinhos knocks the ball down for an on coming Ogawa.  Ogawa takes his first touch past a Tosu defender and then he hits a left footed shot to the far post.

Sagan Tosu 1 – 1 Vissel Kobe

78th minute: Vissel Kobe –  Captain Jung hits a vicious shot from 25 meters out, but it hits the top right of the crossbar.

80th minute Subsitution: Sagan Tosu – MF Kei Ikeda on for ST Sung-dong Baek

87th minute: Sagan Tosu – Fujita and Kim stand over a free kick.  Kim feints the kick and Fujita hits it.  His shot dips and curls just wide of the goal.

88th minute Substitution: Vissel Kobe – So Fujitani on for Ryo Okui

90th minute Substitution: Sagan Tosu – Sung-keun Choi on for Min-woo Kim

91st minute Substitution: Vissel Kobe – Ryosuke Maeda on for Takahito Soma

91st minute: Sagan Tosu – A Sagan Tosu player gets his head to the ball and it looks to be heading toward goal, but Vissel CB Kitamoto heads the ball off the line.

2nd Half Observations:

1. Kobe’s CB Jung would joined attacks from beginning of 2nd half.  A little risky because of Tosu’s ability to quickly counter, but showed that Kobe wanted to take the game to Tosu.

2. Kobe’s Marquinhos’ post play helped his team greatly because he would draw one or two defenders when a ball was sent to his feet.  Marquinhos, knowing he was under pressure, would send a one-touch pass to an oncoming attacker.

3. After the 75th minute, Sagan Tosu’s players looked like they lost their legs.  Their facial expressions and aggression went down dramatically compared to the first half.  Perhaps, this was Kobe’s game plan: make Tosu’s players tired in the 1st half then run them down in the 2nd half.

Overall Observations:

1. Kobe ST Kazuma Watanabe has been disappointing. Despite this, he is still in the match.

2. Kobe were able to make adjustments in the 2nd half: keep possession of the ball higher up the pitch and use the width of the pitch.  This helped them control the game and keep Tosu far from their own goal.

3. Tosu’s stamina throughout the match, and previous matches, has dropped compared to past seasons.  This is possibly due to the fact that this is Manager Hitoshi Morishita’s first year as manager.  Previous Manager Jung-hwan Yoon’s training regiment was probably different because Tosu’s players looked a lot more lively and dangerous for a full 90 minutes than compared to this year.  The core of Tosu’s players played under Manager Yoon and more than likely still have his philosophies ingrained in their playing style.

Player of the Match: Vissel Kobe FW Kenjiro Ogawa – Scored the game winning goal and looked dangerous throughout the match.

Next fixtures (May 6th):

Sagan Tosu:

vs. Shimizu S Pulse away

Vissel Kobe:

vs. Shonan Bellmare away


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