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Sunday, 17 August 2008

Grampus at Home at Home's

Nagoya fought their way to 2-1 away win over Kobe at Home's Stadium yesterday evening. Although they controlled most of the game, Grampus eventually earned the three points with a Yoshizumi Ogawa winner in injury-time. So while the team is finding it hard to produce convincing performances at home, their away form is keeping them in the chase for the J1 title. This results leaves them still in third place, only two points behind leaders Kashima. (Former Grampus player Shigeyoshi Mochizuki raises some good points (in Japanese) about the game in his comments at the Chunichi Shimbum.)

As has often been the case this season, Nagoya started well, putting their opponents under pressure in midfield and using rapid passing moves to keep possession themselves. Kobe were unable to cope with this pressure during the opening 45 minutes, and fell behind after Ogawa tucked home an easy chance after some good work by Keiji Tamada on the left.

Although Grampus controlled the first half, and much of the game, the team is still struggling to convert this into a more comfortable lead. This almost proved the team's undoing as Vissel competed more effectively in the second half and even looked they might steal a winner for a few minutes after Leandro scored an equaliser with 10 minutes to go. Fortunately, the same player helped Nagoya earn the three points when his attempt to take a FK quickly backfired and gifted Grampus possession. Nagoya rapidly advanced up field and Ogawa bagged his second easy chance of the game.

Now I am sure our friends at the Rising Sun News and JSoccer will bemoan the performance of referee Murakami, who was determined to allow the game to flow. However, as we saw in Beijing, players expecting to earn fouls simply because they crash to earth every time they are tackled puts them at a disadvantage when they come up against a more experienced ref. Now, Murakami's determination to let the game flow meant that there were a few tackles for either team that one would have expected to be penalised, it made for a fast-paced entertaining game. It also favoured Grampus since they were the team that played with more rhythm and style. This left Vissel fans wailing about the bias towards the visiting team. But I would rather see referees playing the advantage than constantly stopping the game. Japanese players need to learn to stay on their feet, rather than copying the theatrical diving of some South American teams.

Vissel Kobe
Kenta Tokushige
Ryosuke Matsuoka (Norio Suzuki 55), Teruaki Kobayashi, Kunie Kitamoto, Toshihiko Uchiyama
Hideo Tanaka (Takeyuki Yoshida HT > Kenji Baba 76), Kim Nan Il, Botti, Keisuke Kurihara
Yoshito Okubo, Leandro
Scorer: Leandro 81

Seigo Narazaki
Akira Takeuchi, Takashi Miki, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Yoshizumi Ogawa. Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura (Atsushi Yoneyama 85), Magnum
Keiji Tamada (Keita Sugimoto 85), Frode Johnsen (Yuki Maki 74)
Scorers: Ogawa 13, 90+

1 comment:

Vissel Pete said...

A good report, Mark. I agree with your comments about the ref. This was his 12th game--he is relatively inexperienced and we should encourage his willingness to let the game flow, rather than being picky about a few decisions, both ways, that were clearly mistakes.

As a Vissel fan, I would almost go as far as to say Kobe were outclassed. I'm a bit disappointed with Matsuda this season. Although Vissel had many good moments, they look a bit shapeless and aimless.

I almost feel like saying that Alan was more nearly right about Emerson Thome last season than I thought at the time. Like Jody Craddock at Wolves, he is a top-class leader who was clearly losing it and it was 50-50 at best whether he was good enough to make the team. However, now Emerson is not there, one's first reaction to watching Vissel is to think they need a dominating player to take them by the scruff of the neck and get them playing to a plan. Probably totally wrongly, they give the impression of ad-libbing it--but that's the impression.

I'm a bit worried about Oukubo. His talent stands out, but on the day his moodiness and selfishness hurt Vissel, especially one chance near the end when Leandro was in full flight and onside for a telling through ball but Oukubo hung on and tried a long shot which was over the bar. I hate to say this, but I wonder if Oukubo is beginning to lose it.

Leandro is very sharp in the head and a good, aware striker to have around, but yesterday he was too easily outpaced by Grampus's speedy defenders. Maybe Oukubo needs a partner with a bit more genuine speed.

The silver lining: I thought new signings Suzuki and Yoshida looked terrific, except that sub Yoshida had to be replaced (presumably because of some niggle--if not, Matsuda deserves hanging!); Tokushige in goal also looked alright for most of the game, except he seemed to get too tense in the last twenty minutes.

On Grampus, their defence looks potentially terrific to me--they have so many really fast defenders.

On that key moment deep into injury time when Leandro lost the ball at the ridiculously quick free kick, everyone else seemed to think he tried to give the Nagoya defender a yellow card by deliberately kicking it at him. Am I the only one who thinks he tried to put a quick, devastating through ball in and effed up?