[Match Report] Urawa Reds vs. Gamba Osaka

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Urawa Reds 1 – 0 Gamba Osaka


National Derby Day!!!  Urawa Reds vs. Gamba Osaka, a battle between 2 title challengers.  Should be a cracking match on this beautiful Spring day!

Urawa Reds:

Urawa Reds’ leading scoring is also ST Zlatan, FW Yuki Muto, and MF Tsukasa Umesaki with 2 goals each.  Despite the lack of firepower from one particular player, Urawa Reds are sitting on top of the league undefeated.  All of their matches have been well-contested matches, but the Reds have been able to grind out results.  Also, their ability to score from set pieces have been vital to their success.

The Reds’ play in a 3-6-1 (3-4-2-1) tactic with wing backs/wide midfielders.  This gives them more options when in possession of the ball and the ability to switch the field of play quickly.  This puts a lot of responsibility on the 3 CBs because they have to shift horizontally on the pitch in order to keep the team’s balance, and also to prevent counterattacks.

Starting Formation: 3-6-1 (3-4-2-1)
Player I focused on: DF Tomoaki Makino – Makino is the emotional leader of this team.  Makino is very different from the dominant Tulio, but he has very good technique for a CB and will look to join the attack to provide more options.

Gamba Osaka:

Gamba Osaka has an image of being a possession/control based team; however, they are explosive on the counterattack, especially from the flanks.  About 1/3 of Gamba’s goals come from crosses, but they also concede the same about of goals from crosses.  This is something that Urawa will have scouted because Urawa is also good at using the flanks. Gamba have conceded mostly from set pieces.  On the other hand, as earlier mentioned, Urawa are very deadly from set pieces.

Gamba will probably come out in their 4-4-2 formation.  LB Hiroki Fujiharu is a complete wing back who always tries to boss his side of the pitch.  With ST Usami playing on the left up top, combination play between these two on the left flank is a key for Gamba this afternoon.

Starting Formation: 4-4-2
Player I focused on: ST Takashi Usami – Usami has scored in 6 matches in a row and has scored a goal in all but one match for Gamba this season.  Currently on fire.

1st Half:

7th minute: Urawa Reds – Zlatan finds MF/FW Yuki Muto in the midfield and Muto charged up the pitch.  Zlatan makes a looping run outside on the left flank and Muto finds him with a nice through pass.  Zlatan was almost through on goal, but Gamba Osaka were able to recover.

First 10 minutes: Both teams are still looking to settle and find their feet in the match.  Gamba are having difficulty keeping the ball higher up the pitch.  Urawa cannot find space in the attacking third.

12th minute: Gamba Osaka – MF Endo finds ST Usami and Usami takes a mid-ranged shot, but it goes over the crossbar.

14th minute: Urawa Reds – Kashiwagi hits a lofted free kick into the penalty area and DF Daisuke Nasu gets his head to the ball, but his header goes wide.

18th minute: Gamba Osaka – After Gamba wins the ball in the midfield, the ball is connect to Patric.  He hits a strong shot toward the far post, but it goes just wide.

21st minute: Gamba Osaka – Patric receives a yellow card after taking down Urawa’s Kashiwagi in the midfield.  To Patric’s defense, there was little contact, but Patric’s tackle was mistimed.

22nd minute: Urawa Reds – CB Moriwaki pushes up field and after some nice quick combination play, he hits a dipping shot that goes agonizingly wide of the far post.

23rd minute: Fujiharu hacks down Urawa’s Umesaki from behind and Osaka’s Endo then blasts the ball into Umesaki’s back when he was on the ground.  Endo maybe was looking to play a quick long pass to launch a counterattack.

32nd minute: Urawa Reds – Tomoaki Makino joins the attack and receives the ball on the left flank, right outside of the penalty area.  Gamba’s Endo takes Makino down and Urawa is given a free kick in a very dangerous area.

33rd minute: Urawa Reds – Kashiwagi stands over the free kick and hits a drop pass to MF Abe.  Abe takes a one-time shot, but it is blocked by a Osaka defender.  Good opportunity is wasted.

38th minute: Gamba Osaka – Konno strongly takes the ball off of Zlatan, and then Endo hits a perfectly places over-the-top pass to Usami.  Usami deftly traps the ball and looked to take Moriwaki on one-v-one, but Moriwaki skillfully tackles Usami.

44th minute: Urawa Reds – Zlatan is put through clear on goal from a perfect through pass in the air.  Zlatan brings the ball down with his chest, but he is pressured from behind by a Gamba defender.  Zlatan then attempts a shot, but misses the ball.

1st Half Observations:

1. Urawa Reds – They are looking to attack the flanks.  This is possibly to spread out Gamba Osaka’s defense in order to give their attackers more space to exploit.

2. Urawa is looking dangerous when they have set piece opportunities and Osaka is looking a little shaky when defending set pieces.

3. Gamba Osaka looks menacing when Endo contects with Usami and vice-versa or Usami connects with Fujiharu and vice-versa.

4. After half of the 1st half went by, CBs Moriwaki and Makino started joining the attack more often, and they created some chances.

5. Gamba Osaka’s defenders are caught facing their goal and running back to recover multiple times. This represents the amount of pressure Urawa is putting on Gamba’s defense.

Keys for Success in the 2nd Half:

For Urawa Reds:

1. Convert set piece opportunities.  In order to convert set pieces, players need to loose their tight markers. In other words, deceptive runs are essential.

2. Urawa are keeping most of the possession, but they cannot find a way through Gamba’s defense. So, Urawa needs to attempt more killer balls to slice Gamba’s defense open.

3. Finish attacking moves with a shot.  Attacks from either flank end with a misplaced pass or cross, and this leads to Gamba Osaka launching counterattacks.

For Gamba Osaka:

1. Find Usami at his feet.  Usami looks to be the chance creator for Gamba today, so they need to find him more.  If they do so, Usami will draw defenders and other players will find more space to work with; thus, Gamba will be able to hold possession of the ball in the attacking third.

2. Transition. Gamba’s players are running a lot on defense because Urawa is keeping possession.  However, Gamba’s short and long counterattacks did look threatening.  So, use quick, short passes through the midfield after winning the ball will unlock Urawa’s defense.  Especially when Makino or Moriwaki join Urawa’s attack.

2nd Half:

First 10 minutes: Urawa came flying out of the gates.  MF/FW Muto took on Gamba’s defense and got a shot off, but he flubbed his shot and nothing came of the chance.  Gamba’s attack is still coming mainly from the left side: Fujiharu, Kurata, Usami.

66th minute Subsitution: Urawa Reds – Takahiro Sekine on for Tadaaki Hirakawa

68th minute: Urawa Reds – Kashiwagi switches the field of play and the ball is sent back into the center of the penalty area to Zlatan.  Zlatan meets the low cross but his one-time shot is saved by Gamba GK Higashiguchi.

60th minute Substitution: Urawa Reds – ST Tadanari Lee on for MF Tsukasa Umesaki

60th minute Substitution – Gamba Osaka – ST Shingo Akamine on for ST Patric

Both teams are making moves to win the match with their substitutions.  Gamba Osaka are still looking to make changes to their midfield with another substitution to come in the next few minutes.

73rd minute Substitution – Gamba Osaka – Hiroyuki Abe on for Kotaro Omori

73rd minute: Gamba Osaka – Playermaker Endo runs into an advanced position outside of Urawa’s penalty area and is fouled by Urawa CB Nasu.  A big chance for Endo to put Gamba in front with his deadly right foot.

75th minute: Gamba Osaka – Endo hits his free kick a it looks to be heading into the goal, but Urawa Reds’ GK Nishikawa makes a super save to keep the game at 0-0.

78th minute: Urawa Reds – Muto gets the ball on the left side of the penalty area and he sends a pass into the center of the penalty area to Lee. Lee traps the ball and takes a shot, but three Gamba players throw their bodies in front on Lee and the shot is blocked.

84th minute: Urawa Reds – GOAL – Lee has possession of the ball outside of the penalty area while Ugajin makes an overlapping run on the left side of the penalty area. Lee passes that ball to Muto, and Muto quickly finds Ugajin.  Ugajin hits a cross that goes a cross the face of goal, leaving Higashiguchi in no man’s land, and Zlatan is at the far post to finish off the nice move.

Urawa Reds 1 – 0 Gamba Osaka

87th minute Substitution: Gamba Osaka – ST Lins on for DF Shohei Ogura
MF Kurata fills in Ogura’s spot in defense.

87th minute: Gamba Osaka – Kurata is knocked over and while he is on the ground Kurata kicks out at Urawa’s Ugajin.  Kurata is lucky to not get sent off with this play.

90th minute Substitution: Urawa Reds – Takuya Aoki on for Yuki Muto

91st minute: Gamba Osaka – Usami gets the ball at his feet inside of Urawa’s penalty area.  He takes a touch to set himself up and takes a shot, but Nishikawa makes a crucial save.

2nd Half Observations:

1. After losing the ball in the attacking third, Urawa is putting high pressure on Gamba’s defenders and midfielders in order to prevent any counterattacks, and to also force mistakes from Gamba’s players.

2. Game is very back-and-forth because both teams are looking for the breakthrough.

3. Urawa is now focusing their attacks down the right flank because MF Sekine is fresh and making more runs down the line.

4. After going down one goal late in the second half, Gamba Osaka looked to loose their cool.  Konno looked like he lost his cool from earlier in the second half.

Overall Observations:

1. Gamba Osaka: ST Usami did not look dynamic like in the previous matches.  This is because Urawa had about 60% of the ball in the match.  Also, with Urawa putting high, early pressure, Gamba has little time to find Usami or another player up the pitch to launch a counterattack.

2. Urawa’s possession and high pass accuracy rate is supported by a high work rate, especially Kashiwagi and Abe. Kashiwagi plays higher than Abe, so he has more space a freedom to move into space to receive passes.  Abe will rotate off into a support position and will look to make late runs up the pitch where Kashiwagi was.

Player of the Match: Urawa Reds GK Shusaku NIshikawa
Nishikawa made some big saves to give his team a chance to take the lead.

Next fixtures (May 10th):

Urawa Reds:

vs. Vegalta Sendai away

Gamba Osaka:

vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima away


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