[Match Report] FC Tokyo vs. Omiya Ardija

19:00 Kickoff
FC Tokyo 0 – 1 Omiya Ardija

Omiya Ardija
’70 – 10 Yuzo Iwakami (8 Dragan Mrđa)


FC Tokyo

Starting Formation: 4-4-2
GK: 47 Yota Akimoto
RB: 37 Kento Hashimoto
CB: 3 Masato Morishige
CB: 5 Yuichi Maruyama
LB: 2 Shuhei Tokunaga
RM: 48 Kota Mizunuma
CM: 7 Takuji Yonemoto
CM: 10 Yohei Kajiyama
LM: 38 Keigo Higashi
ST: 20 Ryoichi Maeda
ST: 44 Takuma Abe

Player I focused on: MF 48 Kota Mizunuma – A new transfer from Sagan Tosu. Personally, I always believed Mizunuma had the potential to be a very good player in the J. League, and I even though he would one day break into the national team. He was brought through the youth system at Yokohama F Marinos, but he never had the opportunity to break into the first team. This seems to be a trend with Yokohama F Marinos because they have released a number of good talent over the years: Kota Mizunuma, Mike Havenaar, Aria Jasuru Hasegawa, just to name a few. Perhaps there is a problem with introducing young players with potential at Yokohama F Marinos. I digress. Getting back on topic, I am really interested to see how Mizunuma has gelled with his new teammates. Mizunuma has high workrate, good technique, and can create goal scoring opportunities; so I think he is a great addition to FC Tokyo’s squad.

Omiya Ardjia

Starting Formation: 4-4-2
GK: 21 Hitoshi Shiota
RB: 22 Takuya Wada
CB: 2 Kosuke Kikuchi
CB: 3 Hiroyuki Komoto
LB: 5 Keigo Numata
RM: 9 Nejc Pečnik
CM: 10 Yuzo Iwakami
CM: 18 Tomonobu Yokoyama
LM: 39 Jin Izumisawa
ST: 41 Akihiro Ienaga
ST: 8 Dragan Mrđa

Player I focused on: ST 41 Akihiro Ienaga – On the squad sheet for tonight’s match, Ienaga is registered at ST even though his natural position is in the midfield out on the wings. So with this information, I predict he will be playing more as a shadow striker below Mrđa. In this role, Ienaga will have more freedom to operate and it will give Omiya Ardija an interesting option on the attack.

1st Half:

2′: FC Tokyo – Yellow Card – Tokunaga receives a yellow card after his arm makes contact with RM Pečnik’s face.

12′: FC Tokyo  – ST Takuma Abe picks up the ball in a dangerous position after a mistake by Omiya Ardija. He plays a one-two with fellow ST Maeda and takes a shot on goal which is saved by Omiya GK Shiota.

27′: FC Tokyo – RM Mizunuma found himself in a central position near Omiya’s penalty area and he threaded a pass through to ST Abe. Abe took a shot at the near post but it was saved by GK Shiota.

32′: Omiya Ardija – 5 Keigo Numata – Yellow Card

38′: FC Tokyo – RM Mizunuma sends a cross to Higashi who is on the far post. LM Higashi heads the ball back into the danger zone where ST Abe is running into, but Abe knocks the ball wide of the goal.

43′: Omiya Ardija – RB Wada sends a nice cross into FC Tokyo’s penalty area, but Mrđa sends his header wide of the goal.

1st Half Observations:

  1. FC Tokyo
    • In the off-season, starting LB Kosuke Ota transferred to Eredivisie club Vitesse. Starting SB Sei Muroya is out with a broken leg. With a lack of depth in the SB position, DM/CM Hashimoto is playing out of position at LB. In FC Tokyo’s ACL match versus Jeonbuk, Jeonbuk’s 2 goals came from Hashimoto’s side, and this is something Omiya Ardija will have scouted. Interesting point to keep an eye on.
    • More on RB Hashimoto – All of his passes are going backward and he is not taking higher positions on the right flank. This is making it easy for Omiya’s LM Izumisawa to take higher positions and put more pressure on the defensive line. When he does make movement outside
    • After playing a full season with FC Tokyo, ST Ryoichi Maeda looks to have settled with his new club. Maeda’s strengths are his attacking positioning and post play, and he has shown a few nice passes to create opportunities for teammates.
  2. Omiya Ardija
    • As expected, ST Ienaga is playing a free role. He drops deep into the midfield to get involved with play. However, this is also evidence that Omiya’s midfield is losing out to FC Tokyo’s midfield.
    • When FC Tokyo is keeping possession along the defensive line, Omiya’s 10 field players are all behind the ball. Possibly looking to launch counterattacks.
    • After losing the ball, the midfield is slow to transition back to reduce space between their back 4. This space is being utilized by FC Tokyo’s attackers.

Keys for Success in the 2nd Half:

For FC Tokyo:

  1. More penetrating runs and passes. FC Tokyo has about 55-60% of possession, but there are few penetrating runs into dangerous areas. Not only the first run, but the second run and third run need to be well-timed and deceptive. Most of the runs being made are not deceptive and very one-dimensional. Making deceptive runs will create space for another attacker to run into and pull defenders out of position.
  2. Give RB Hashimoto clear instructions. RM Mizunuma is a player that likes to roam the pitch, but it looks as if Mizunuma is roaming toward the left side of the pitch because that side is creating more chances. After 35 minutes, Hashimoto is still playing within his own zone. If FC Tokyo were playing a defensive tactic, this would not be a problem, but FC Tokyo is an attacking team. So, SBs need to make overlaps on the flanks and get involved with the attack.

For Omiya Ardija:

  1. Make 1st passes with precision. Because Omiya is created a block to defend and then look to launch a quick counter, the first pass to transition to offense is important. However, their first pass is often being cut of by FC Tokyo in midfield, which is a critical mistake. After gaining possession of the ball, Omiya players will swiftly move up field to transition, but if the first pass is intercepted, FC Tokyo has the opportunity to counter the counterattack.
  2. ST Ienaga should play as a CAM and not a ST. When Ienaga is playing on FC Tokyo’s last line, he makes runs into space toward the flank, but his teammates do not even attempt to send him a pass. This shows a lack of confidence in Omiya’s players and a lack of tactical awareness from Ienaga. Because FC Tokyo is controlling the game, placing Ienaga in a slightly lower position as a CAM will give him more opportunities to control the ball and help out the midfield on defense.

2nd Half:

46′: FC Tokyo – 17 MF Hiroki Kawano ON, MF 48 Kota Mizunuma OFF
During the halftime interview, Manager Hiroshi Jofuku said that he wanted his team to use the width of the pitch. I think this is one reason why Kawano was brought on for Mizunuma. Mizunuma is a player that likes to be in areas where he can connect passes, so he tends to leave the flank of the pitch open. This is perfectly fine if you have an attacking RB, but Hashimoto does not have enough experience in the RB position to make an influence in that area of the pitch. Compared to Mizunuma, Kawano is a player that will give width in midfield.

Also, LM Higashi switched positions with ST Abe. I think Manager Jofuku made this change because Abe is more capable of taking defenders one-on-one on the dribble and he likes to run in behind the defense. Higashi is a better playmaker than Abe. Having Higashi in a higher and more central position, FC Tokyo’s attack should have more variation.

52′: FC Tokyo – Kawano stays on his feet to get past a defender on the right flank in the attacking third, and he sends a low pass to an oncoming Higashi. Higashi gets a touch on the ball, but the ball rolls in front of the face of goal and is cleared out of the penalty area.

63′: FC Tokyo – Yonemoto sends a direct diagonally across the field to ST Maeda. Maeda traps the ball and tries to take a defender on 1 v 1, but his technique lets him down, and the ball goes out for a goal kick. When the ball was traveling over to Maeda, other FC Tokyo attackers did not make an movement to support Maeda or get into a dangerous position.

68′: FC Tokyo – ST 39 Shoya Nakajima ON, MF 38 Keigo Higashi OFF
Nakajima slots in at LM and Abe goes back up top with ST Maeda.

70′: Omiya Ardija – GOAL 0:1 – Against the run of play, Omiya grabs the lead. RB Wada hit a perfect long ball up to ST Mrđa, check 2nd Half Observation, point one for Omiya Ardija. Mrđa used his strength to hold of CB Maruyama and sent a ball into the penalty area from the goal line. ST Ienaga took a shot which was blocked, but the ball found it’s way to CM Iwakami who made no mistake.

76′: Omiya Ardija – MF 17 Shigeru Yokotani ON, MF 9 Nejc Pečnik OFF

77′: FC Tokyo – MF 27 Sotan Tanabe ON, MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama OFF

80′: FC Tokyo – Substitute Tanabe send a nicely lofted ball from the left side of the pitch to RB Hashimoto. Hashimoto hit the ball down for MF Kawano, who then took a shot but his shot bangs the crossbar.

87′: Omiya Ardija – MF Shin Kanazawa ON, FW 8 Dragan Mrđa OFF
Ardija shifts their formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1

89′: Omiya Ardija – DF/MF Tsubasa Oya ON, MF 39 Jin Izumisawa OFF

2nd Half Observations:

  1. FC Tokyo
    • Hashimoto finally made a good run up the right flank all the way to Omiya Ardija’s defensive line. Although he did not get the ball, it was a positive. However, he does stop his run when he should continue.
    • CM Kajiyama has been invisible.  He is finding space in the midfield, but he is not receiving the ball.
  2. Omiya Ardija
    • Passes not connecting from defenders to strikers. Omiya are able to connect passes between near positions, defenders to midfield, midfield to strikers, but passes from defenders to strikers are being picked off. If these passes connect, Omiya will be able to force FC Tokyo to defend, which will give them more space to work with in the middle third and attacking third.

Overall Observations:

  1. FC Tokyo
    • FC Tokyo’s pressuring on defense in high areas of the pitch made it difficult for Omiya to create any rhythm.
    • If Hashimoto played the whole match like he did AFTER FC Tokyo gave up a goal, FC Tokyo would have create more chances and it would have been a different game. After getting scored on, Hashimoto made more aggressive moves up the field instead of sit back. Also, his passes were more positive.
    • FC Tokyo are experience how difficult it is to manage their team through the league and continental competition. Squad depth is extremely important, but it is already apparent that FC Tokyo is lacking depth in certain positions at this early stage of the season. Not only that, but it goes to show that the J.League is a difficult league to perform consistently in.
  2. Omiya Ardija
    • Omiya showed that they are able to withstand high pressure from their opponents and convert their chances on the break.
    • Marking their first game back to J1 with a victory against a team which performed well last year is a great accomplishment.
    • Newly acquired players in the starting line-up, 5 Keigo Numata, 9 Nejc Pečnik, 10 Yuzo Iwakami, played well, especially 10 Yuzo Iwakami.

Player of the Match:

Omiya Ardija – MF 10 Yuzo Iwakami
Scored the game-winning goal and also showed that he has the ability to control the midfield when given proper support from his teammates.

Next fixtures:

FC Tokyo:

vs. Vegelta Sendai at Yurtec Stadium Sendai on March 6th
At the moment, Vegelta Sendai defeated-0 lead over Yokohama F Marinos 1-0 with a goal from Hirotaka Mita, formerly of FC Tokyo.

Omiya Ardija

vs. Kashiwa Reysol at NACK5 Stadium Omiya on March 5th
After losing their opening match against Urawa Reds 1-2, Kashiwa will be looking of get their first win of the year against newly-promoted Omiya Ardija.


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