[2018 WC Qualifiers – Match Report] Thailand vs. Japan

Thailand 0 – 2 Japan

18′ Japan – 8 Genki Haraguchi (19 Hiroki Sakai)
75′ Japan – 18 Takuma Asano (17 Makoto Hasebe)



Starting Formation: 4-5-1

GK: 1 Kawin Thamsatchanan
DF: 3 Theerathon Bunmathan
DF: 13 Narubadin Weerawatnodom
DF: 15 Koravit Namwiset
DF: 19 Tristan Do
MF: 4 Kroekrit Thaweekarn
MF: 7 Charyl Chappuis
MF: 17 Tanaboon Kesarat
MF: 18 Chanathip Songkrasin
MF: 21 Pokklaw Anan
FW: 10 Teerasil Dangda

Player I focused on: FW 10 Teerasil Dangda
Not only is he the most capped player in the current squad with 75 caps, but he also has scored the most goals with 34 goals.

Interesting tactical player selection:
Also, MF 17 Tanaboon Kesarat is registered as a DF but is set to play in the midfield. I assume he will play in the space between the back 4 and midfield to erase space for Japan’s attacking midfielders to exploit.


Starting 11

Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: 12 Shusaku Nishikawa
RB: 19 Hiroki Sakai
CB: 22 Maya Yoshida
CB: 6 Masato Morishige
LB: 21 Gotoku Sakai
CM: 16 Hotaru Yamaguchi
CM: 17 Makoto Hasebe (Captain)
RW: 4 Keisuke Honda
CAM: 10 Shinji Kagawa
LW: 8 Genki Haraguchi
FW: 18 Takuma Asano

Player I focused on: FW 18 Takuma Asano
Replacing the misfiring Shinji Okazaki at the lone striker position, it will be interesting to see how he plays as a starting member. Last season and occasionally with the 2016 U-23 Olympic National Team, Asano was used as a trump card coming off the bench to use his pace to open up defenses. However, he will be facing fresh defenders from the beginning of a match, so his pace might not have as much affect as it would in the last 15 minutes of a match. Another point to look out for is how he combines with those around him. When he was on the pitch against the UAE, I did not see him combine well with the 3 attacking midfielders, so he might get isolated in attacking zones.

Interesting tactical player selection:
LW 8 Genki Haraguchi gets the green light over a few players who play LW naturally. Manager Halilhodžić probably wants to utilize Haraguchi’s unpredictability with the ball at his feet. If Haraguchi is able to break through one or two defenders during a run, this will more than likely lead to scoring chances for Japan.

1st Half:

Rain is consistently falling and this means more mistakes might be committed by defenders, which also means the possibility for more chances for attackers. The pitch looks soggy. Players may need to change the spikes they’re using to adapt.

1′: Japan kickoff

12′: Japan – After Hasebe wins a foul on the left flank, Shinji Kagawa sent in a free kick to the far post where Honda was. Honda sends the ball back in front of goal, but the ball is cleared by a Thai defender for a corner kick.

16′: Japan – Off a corner kick, the ball bounced around Thailand’s penalty area and Morishige took a  shot which was taken on frame, but Thailand’s GK made a fantastic reaction save.

18′: GOAL – Thailand 0 – 1 Japan – LW Genki Haraguchi gets his head on the end of RB Hiroki Sakai’s driven cross and the ball hits the far side of the net.

24′: Japan – Asano got behind Thailand’s defense and sends a ball across the face of goal, but Honda completely misses the ball and Manager Halilhodžić throws his towel on the ground in frustration.

28′: Japan – Yellow Card – Masato Morishige – An unneeded yellow card as Morishige tells the center official that there is not enough air in the ball, and the referee probably sees it as delaying the game to justify the yellow card.

35′: Thailand – Attacked Japan’s defense with 2 players, but they are not able to connect and the chance falls to nothing.

39′: Thailand – 10 Teerasil Dangda gets the ball in midfield and sends a perfect through ball to the left flank, but Japan’s RB Hiroki Sakai is able to intercept the pass.

42′: Japan – Honda plays the ball into Asano who is waiting in the penalty area, Asano holds the ball up and back heels it back to Honda. Honda takes one touch and the fires with his favored left foot, but the ball is deflected and looks to be heading into the goal, but Thailand’s GK makes another reaction save.

46′: RB Hiroki Sakai sends another dangerous cross into the box and Honda gets off a header in the penalty area, but Thailand’s GK makes another amazing save.

1st Half Observations:

  1. Thailand
    • Looks to be playing a positive game; meaning, they are not sitting back in a defensive block like the UAE did. Thailand are looking to get the ball and work their way up the pitch, and they have a few players who are capable of doing damage.
    • After 15 minutes, Thailand have gone into a structured defensive block because Japan has almost 65% of possession.
  2. Japan
    • In the first 10 minutes, most of the play is going down the left flank where Gotoku Sakai and Haraguchi are.
    • Both side backs are pushing high up the pitch, especially Hiroki Sakai. Hiroki Sakai is pushing up to the last line of Thailand’s defensive line waiting for a direct ball changing the field of play.
    • Haraguchi is pinching into the center of the pitch and pushing up to the defensive line; thus, giving space for Gotoku Sakai to run into.
    • Movement from attacking four (LW, CAM, RW, FW) is predictable and not inventive.
    • Honda’s movements look sluggish.

Keys for Success in the 2nd Half:

For Thailand:

  1. Decide when to go after the ball with numbers because Japan has the majority of possession.
  2. Quickly transition from defense to attack because a player who receives the ball up the pitch is often isolated.

For Japan:

  1. Be clinical in front of goal. Honda’s miss was abysmal and misses like that might come back to haunt Japan in the second half.
  2. Shinji Kagawa needs to play more like a CAM and not a SS (Shadow Striker). A CAM looks to get forward, but also should be the main chance creator in the team; however, he is not creating any chances because he his taking up positions too high up the pitch, where he cannot create. In the positions he is taking, he is looking to score goals, and this would be what a shadow striker does.
  3. Kashiwagi on for Yamaguchi. Kashiwagi likes to dictate the tempo and switch the field of play so this would give Japan more patterns of attack.

2nd Half:

46′: Thailand kicks off

53′: Japan – Honda sends a nice through pass for Haraguchi, but Thailand’s defender uses his body well to shield the ball away from Haraguchi.

55′: Japan – the ball chaotically bounds around Thailand’s penalty area after a Japan corner kick. Japan’s attackers try frantically to put the ball in the back of the net, but Thailand’s GK is able to get control of the ball.

56′: Japan – Asano looks to break free behind of Thailand’s defensive line and sends a ball across the face of goal to where Haraguchi is making a run. Haraguchi unleashes a shot, but it goes off the crossbar and flies over the goal. However, the assistant referee flagged Asano offside and play is brought back.

57′: Thailand – Substitution – MF 9 Siroch Chatthong IN, 13 DF Narubadin Weerawatnodom OFF
Thailand changes their formation to a 4-4-2 with 9 Siroch Chatthong playing up top.

62′: Japan – Hasebe switches the field in the air to RB Hiroki Sakai, and Sakai heads the ball down for Honda. Honda gets the ball down and takes a shot but the shot is saved by Thailand’s GK.

64′: Japan – Haraguchi send Kagawa in through on goal and Kagawa takes a shot, and Thailand’s brick wall of a GK comes up with another big save.

66′: Japan – Haraguchi cuts in from the left wing into the middle of the pitch and takes a shot from the top of the penalty area, but he skies it over the goal.

69′: Japan – Haraguchi creates another situation just as the 66′. This time his shot is low and is saved by the GK.

70′: Thailand – 10 Teerasil Dangda is sent in through on goal from a perfect through pass from 18 Chanathip Songkrasin, but his shot hits Nishikawa in the face and Nishikawa collects.

75′: Japan – Honda switches the field nicely to LB Gotoku Sakai who makes a perfect trap in the penalty area. Sakai then sends a cross and Kagawa and Kagawa gets his head to the ball, but the header goes wide.

75′: GOAL – Thailand 0 – 2 Japan – Hasebe sends a lofted ball over the top and Asano uses his physicality to get the ball and finds himself 1-v-1 with the GK. He takes a shot and the GK gets a touch to it, but the ball has enough power and finds its way into the goal.

77′: Thailand – Substitution – MF 12 Prakit Deeporm IN,  MF 7 Charyl Chappuis OUT

82′: Japan – Substitution – FW 20 Yoshinori Muto IN, 18 Takuma Asano OUT

83′: Japan – Gotoku Sakai and GK Nishikawa have a bit of miscommunication and Nishikawa tries to clear but gets a good chunk of Thailand’s attacker. Nishikawa receives a yellow card for his actions.

84′: Thailand – Substitution – DF 2 Peerapat Notchaiya IN, DF 4 Kroekrit Thaweekarn OUT

85′: Japan – Substitution – 14 FW Yu Kobayashi IN, FW Keisuke Honda OUT

89′: Thailand – Yellow Card, Red Card – 12 Prakit Deeporm receives a yellow card for his tackle on Kagawa and then receives a red card. I assume the red card is for his words and actions after the play ended.

90′: Japan – Substitution – FW 11 Takashi Usami IN, 8 Genki Haraguchi OUT

91′: Japan – Usami receives the ball on the left flank just outside of the penalty area and he cuts inside. He then takes a shot with his right foot looking for the far post, but his shot goes just wide.

2nd Half Observations:

  1. Thailand
    • Looking to use 9 Siroch Chatthong’s height and 10 Teerasil Dangda’s skill to tie the match.
  2. Japan
    • Honda’s play is lacking precision and he is obviously too slow to take on players one-on-one
    • The play stops when the ball makes its way to Honda.
    • Japan’s play is getting sloppy on the defensive side in the last 10 minutes.

Overall Observations:

Player of the Match: Japan – RB 19 Hiroki Sakai
Hiroki Sakai’s hardwork up and down the right flank was key for Japan’s win this evening, shown by his assist on Haraguchi’s opening goal. He also created about 5 chances which Japan could not convert, but he was very industrious and both sides of the ball.

Next fixtures (October 6):


vs. UAE at Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi (UAE)


vs. Iraq at Saitama Stadium 2002, Saitama (Japan)


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