[Match Report] Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs. Kawasaki Frontale

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0 – 1 Kawasaki Frontale

Kawasaki Frontale:
83′ – 11 Yu Kobayashi (20 Yoshihiro Nakano)


Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Starting Formation: 3-6-1 (5-4-1)
GK: 1 Takuto Hayashi
CB: 33 Tsukasa Shiotani
CB: 5 Kazuhiko Chiba
CB: 19 Sho Sasaki
RWB/RM: 14 Mihael Mikić
LWB/LM: 18 Yoshifumi Kashiwa
CM: 6 Toshihiro Aoyama (C)
CM: 8 Kazuyuki Morisaki
CAM: 25 Yusuke Chajima
CAM: 30 Kosei Shibasaki
ST: 11 Hisato Sato

Player I focused on: ST 11 Hisato Sato – Sato is currently tied for (with legendary striker Masashi Nakayama) the most goals in J1 history with 157 goals. His evasive off-the ball movement and sense for goal is amongst in the J.League.

Kawasaki Frontale

Starting Formation: 4-4-2
GK: 1 Sung-Ryong Jung
RB: 18 Elsinho
CB: 3 Tatsuki Nara
CB: 5 Shogo Taniguchi
LB: 20 Shintaro Kurumaya
RM: 19 Kentaro Moriya
CM: 10 Ryota Oshima
CM: 14 Kengo Nakamura (C)
LM: 25 Kenta Kano
ST: 13 Yoshito Okubo
ST: 11 Yu Kobayashi

Player I focused on: ST 13 Yoshito Okubo – Okubo is 3rd on the J1 all-time goal scoring charts. With 156 goals, he is just one goal behind current leader Hisato Sato and Masashi Nakayama. He has the ability to put the team on his back when they need a goal, and this determination and hunger to score goals is indispensable.

1st Half:

10′: Kawasaki Frontale – ST Yoshito Okubo takes a shot from outside of the penalty area, but his shot flashes wide of the far post.

12′: Kawasaki Frontale – Nice ball movement in front of Sanfrecce’s penalty area before a dangerous through ball is sent into the box. Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s defenders tightly mark Kawasaki Frontale’s attackers, and GK Takuto Hayashi gathers the ball.

14′: Kawasaki Frontale – A rare stray pass from Sanfrecce Hiroshima in their own defensive third gifts a chance to Kawasaki Frontale, but this chance comes to nothing.

19′: Sanfrecce Hiroshima – CB gets his head on Chajima’s corner kick at the near post, but Kawasaki Frontale GK Sung-Ryong Jung makes an important save.

43′: Sanfrecce Hiroshima – CM Morisaki unleashes a vicious shot from 25 meters, but Kawasaki’s GK Jung makes a nice save.

1st Half Observations:

  1. Kawasaki Frontale
    • Have seen more possession of the ball because Sanfrecce Hiroshima creates a structured defensive block in the defensive third. This block is extremely difficult to breakdown, but Kawasaki has time to possess in deeper midfield areas.
    • Side midfielders Moriya and Kano have a tendency to take narrower positions in attacking positions. This is not a bad thing if attacking with speed and fluidity, but having wide players take narrower positions is creating less space for STs Kobayashi and Okubo to work with.
  2. Sanfrecce Hiroshima
    • In the first 20 minutes of the match, Sanfrecce had 4 corner kick opportunities to Kawasaki Frontale’s 0.
    • CM Morisaki drops deeper into the midfield to act as a connection between the 3 CBs and midfield. At times, Morisaki drops into the defensive line with the 3 CBs. When Morisaki does this, wing-backs/side midfielders Mikić and Kashiwa are able to take higher positions on the pitch.
    • In contrast to CM Morisaki, CM Aoyama floats between Kawasaki Frontale’s ST line and midfield line looking for space.

Keys for Success in the 2nd Half:

For Sanfrecce Hiroshima:

  1. Use the flanks. In my opinion, Sanfrecce’s attack looks most dangerous when they utilize their wide players. For today’s match, Mikić is on the right and Kashiwa is on the left. However, their presence is not making any impression on the match.

For Kawasaki Frontale:

  1. Change gears when in possession. In other words, go from a slow tempo possession style to a faster tempo attacking style As mentioned above, Sanfrecce creates a tight block in their defensive third, so Frontale is having difficulty penetrating. Also previously mentioned, wide players Moriya and Kano need to start out in wider positions and make runs into central areas or behind Sanfrecce’s 3 CBs.
  2. In order to change gears, playmaker CM Nakamura also needs to control the game better.

2nd Half:

49′: Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Sanfrecce created the first chance of the second half. Shibasaki found himself in space in the penalty area and took a shot, but GK Jung came up with another big save for Kawasaki Frontale.

56′: Kawasaki Frontale – LB Kurumaya dropped the ball back to CM Oshima who was making a run into the penalty area. Oshima cut the ball to his right foot and took a shot, but GK Hayashi made a diving save.

58′: Kawasaki Frontale – LB Kurumaya found himself in the penalty area with his back to goal. The ball fell to him and he hit an audacious shot which caught GK Hayashi off his line, but Hayashi was able to recover and punch the ball over the goal.

59′: Sanfrecce Hiroshima – 16 Kohei Shimizu ON, 18 Yoshifumi Kashiwa OFF

60′: Sanfrecce Hiroshima – CM Aoyama finds 14 Mikić in space on the right flank. Mikić charges up the pitch with ST Sato making a run to the near post. Frontale’s defenders pick up on Sato’s dangerous run, but Sanfrecce’s Shibasaki was also making a run into the box and Mikić’s pass finds Shibasaki. Shibasaki hit’s a first time shot, but it goes over the goal. A clear-cut chance not converted.

67′: Kawasaki Frontale – 22 Yoshihiro Nakano ON, 25 Kenta Kano OFF
67′: Sanfrecce Hiroshima – 10 Takuma Asano ON, 11 Hisato Sato OFF

71′: Kawasaki Frontale – 9 Takayuki Morimoto ON, 19 Kentaro Moriya OFF
11 Kobayashi slots in at RM and 9 Morimoto goes up top with 13 Okubo.

75′: Kawasaki Frontale – With 10 Oshima at the center of things, Frontale were able to connect a string of one-touch passes through Sanfrecce’s midfield. Even though they were not able to pull the trigger on this surge, the kept possession in the attacking third in order to look for openings. In the end, LB Kurumaya took a shot which went flying high and wide of the goal, but it was a very positive attack from Frontale.

82′: Sanfrecce Hiroshima – 9 Peter Utaka ON, 25 Yusuke Chajima OFF
10 Asano slots in at CAM, and 9 Utaka plays as the lone striker.

83′ Kawasaki Frontale – GOAL 0:1 – Substitute LM Nakano found himself with possession and in space on the left flank and he charged toward the goal line. He then hit a negative ball into the penalty area. RM Kobayashi made a run from his position on the right side of midfield into the area and he slotted the ball home.

93′ – 6 Yusuke Tasaka ON, 11 Yu Kobayashi OFF

2nd Half Observations:

  1. Sanfrecce Hiroshima
    • In the first five minutes, Sanfrecce is using the flanks more than they did in the first half.
    • The introduction of LWB/LM Shimizu has given Sanfrecce another dimension when attacking. Shimizu has shown individual skill to get by Frontale’s RB Elsinho on a few occasions soon after entering the match.
  2. Kawasaki Frontale
    • ST Okubo is dropping deeper into midfield to receive the ball.
    • Frontale looks most dangerous when they are able to switch the field of play in higher areas of the pitch, and then going vertical.
    • From about the 25 minute mark, Frontale started putting high pressure in advanced areas.

Overall Observations:

  1. Sanfrecce Hiroshima
    • Looked far too defensive most of the match. Creating a structure defensive block is not the problem. The problem is transitioning from the defensive block to a fluid attacking unit. Sanfrecce won J1 last year because they were able to transition smoothly and look dangerous with the ball in possession.
  2. Kawasaki Frontale
    • Manager Yahiro Kazama bringing on Nakano for Kano was a game-changing decision. MF Kenta Kano, who is a new transfer from Kashiwa Reysol and who played for Yokohama F Marinos before that, is a versatile player who can play in any position in the midfield. However, his play style is more of passing style. Compared to Kano, Nakano is a dribbler who likes to take on players one-on-one. This is not a debate of who is better than who; rather, it is a discussion of how to utilize each player. When playing against an opponent who likes to use the flanks and has strong wingers, like Sanfrecce, a player like Nakano would be more suitable because Nakano’s individual skill in wide positions will force the opposition’s winger to drop back on defense. On the other hand, Kano likes to pinch into central areas from wide positions so he can combine with teammates and not be isolated on the wing. This is effective when playing against a team that likes to drive through the middle because Kano’s movement into the middle of the pitch will help on defense and also make him available to find spaces between the lines. Also, LB Kurumaya likes to join the attack, so with Kano in more central areas, Kurumaya will have more freedom and space on the flank.

Player of the Match: 

Kawasaki Frontale: 1 GK Sung-Ryong Jung
He made key saves which kept Frontale in the match.

Next fixtures:

Sanfrecce Hiroshima

vs. Nagoya Grampus @ Toyota Stadium on March 6th

Nagoya Grampus defeated newly promoted Jubilo Iwata 1-0 at home. Former Nagoya striker and new manager Takafumi Ogura started his management career with a 1-0 win over former national team teammate and Jubilo Iwata manager Hiroshi Nanami.

Kawasaki Frontale

vs. Shonan Bellmare @ Todoroki Athletics Stadium on March 5th

At the moment, Shonan Bellmare are trailing Albirex Niigata 0-1 at home. Shonan Bellmare have to cope with losing their defensive talisman Wataru Endo after he transferred to Urawa Reds.


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