Monday, 30 March 2009

Masayuki Omori to Retire

Former Grampus defender, Masayuki Omori has announced his retirement as a player.

This is not particularly surprising news, even though he is still fairly young at 32-years old. The last couple of years has seen him missing due to injury, and he was released by the club at the end of last season. Although his experience would have been useful to the team, youngsters such as Maya Yoshida and Akira Takeuchi have improved sufficiently rapidly to mean that he would find it hard to break into the first team, even if he has been fully fit. The Grampalogue wishes him all the best for the future, and will be keeping an eye on what he does next. He is one of the players, that could well make a good coach at Grampus, or elsewhere.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Grampus Pip Shimizu to Climb to Second

After three games, it is really still too early to be thinking about the league table, but Nagoya's 3-1 win over Shimizu sees them rise to second at this early stage of the season. A more significant fact may be that after five games (3 league, 2 ACL games), the team remains unbeaten.

The return of Magnum and Nakamura to the starting lineup, along with an improved performance by Ogawa, proved too much for S-Pulse to contain as they conceded their first goals of the season. Although, Davi and Yoshimura bagged the goals, two of them came from an assist by Ogawa.

This game was also significant in that Masaya Sato again saw action as a sub for Shohei Abe. This suggests that Sato has improved enough to earn a regular place on the bench, and this greatly increases the team's chances of success this year. As regular readers will have noted, it was the lack of cover for Abe's position that most worried us about the defense this year. It looks as though these concerns maybe resolved by Masaya's emergence as a serious contender for that position.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe (Masaya Sato 87)
Magnum (Kei Yamaguchi 73), Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura, Yoshizumi Ogawa
Keiji Tamada (Keita Sugimoto 89), Davi
Scorers: Davi 25, 89, Yoshimura 76

Shimizu S-Pulse
Yohei Nishibe
Daisuke Ichikawa, Naoaki Aoyama, Keisuke Iwashita, Arata Kodama (Kosuke Ota 80)
Akihiro Hyodo (Jungo Fujimoto 67), Teruyoshi Ito, Masaki Yamamoto (Takuma Edamura 67), Kazuki Hara
Frode Johnsen, Shinji Okazaki
Scorer: Okazaki 80

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Guoan Hold Grampus to Tame Draw

Nagoya Grampus and Beijing Guoan battled to a tame draw at Mizuho Stadium last night. A result that sees Beijing join Nagoya at the top of the Group E table with four points from two games. Newcastle Jets' win over Ulsan sees them in second place, one point back, and makes the next game in Nagoya crucial for both teams.

This game saw Grampus start brightly, and they did manage to create several chances in the first half, but Beijing were able to hold out for 0-0 score-line at half time. The second half was a more even affair and the Chinese team almost capitalized on a couple of defensive errors. Although both teams looked good at times, both lacked the creativity and sharpness needed to convert their periods of control into goals.

This game highlighted Nagoya's lack of creativity in midfield if Magnum and/or Nakamura are missing. Although both made an appearance in the second half, they were unable to alter the course of the game. Sugimoto was anonymous and Ogawa has yet to find the form he showed last year. Both can do better than last night's performance, and despite failing to impress so far this season are likely to become more influential as the season progresses.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Keita Sugimoto, Kei Yamaguchi, Keiji Yoshimura (Magnum HT), Yoshizumi Ogawa (Yuki Maki 82)
Keiji Tamada (Naoshi Nakamura 74), Davi

Yang Zhi
Zhou Ting, Xu Yun Long, Modibo, Darko
Wang Chang Qing, Tao Wei, Huang Bo Wen, Lu Jiang
Ryan, Joel

Monday, 16 March 2009 Article on Davi has a lengthy article on Davi "Can Brazilian Davi Lead Nagoya To The J-League Title?".

Although it is a blatant attempt to promote the Brazilian to a European club, it is quite a reasonable article. It seems to think that the Greek shenanigans were a genuine attempt to sign Davi, rather than an overzealous agent touting the already contracted Davis to an ignorant club. (Davi signed for Grampus at the beginning of December, the greasy Greeks did not put in an appearance until the end of January.) It certainly looks as though Grampus will have to fight hard to hold on to Davi when his contract does expire.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Yamagata Hold Nagoya to Scoreless Draw

J1 new boys Montedio Yamagata earn a home point as they hold Grampus to a 0-0 draw in blizzard conditions.

A blustery first half saw Montedio have the better chances and they forced Narazaki into a couple of excellent saves. A snow storm almost saw the second half called off, but the game continued with an orange ball. Despite the wintery conditions, it was Grampus that created the better chances in this half. Davi, Tamada and substitute Sugimoto all went close, but could not break the deadlock. So despite the lack of goals, there was plenty to keep the fans (and the respective keepers' hands) warm.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe (Keita Sugimoto 67)
Magnum (Yuki Maki 82), Naoshi Nakamura (Kei Yamaguchi 73), Keiji Yoshimura, Yoshizumi Ogawa
Keiji Tamada, Davi

Montedio Yamagata
Kenta Shimizu
Takuya Miyamoto, Leonardo, Hidenori Ishii, Tatsuya Ishikawa
Kim Byung Suk (Nobuyuki Zaizen 69), Masaru Akiba, Kentaro Sato, Katsuyuki Miyazawa (Tomotaka Kitamura 57)
Yu Hasegawa, Tatsuya Furuhashi (Takumi Watanabe 78)

Friday, 13 March 2009

Bajalica Returns Home for Treatment

Grampus defender Milos Bajalica has gone back to Serbia for scans and treatment on the right calf injury he picked up in the season opener against Oita. It is expected that it will take about a week to 10 days.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Honda Headed for Eindhoven?

Reports suggest that former Grampus midfielder Keisuke Honda could be headed to PSV.

Grampus Off to Flying Start

Nagoya got the ideal start to their first ACL campaign with a 3-1 over Ulsan in Korea. Despite a performance that show that there is still room for improvement, the team earned three important away points.

As was the case against Oita on Saturday, the team had to come from behind. Ulsan went into the interval deservedly leading 1-0. Although the home team had hardly been dominant, they had been sharper on the attack and had kept possession well with quick accurate passing when they had the ball. Grampus on the other hand had looked jaded and gave the ball away with some sloppy passing.

However, Grampus emerged after the break and started playing the kind of football we know they can play. Their constant pressure and improved coordination saw the team gradually assert control. This was confirmed about 10 minutes into the half when Maya Yoshida stole in to head home a cross from the left. Thereafter, Grampus looked sharper and fitter than their opponents and it was no surprise to see them take the lead towards the end. Davi and Magnum both capitalizing on sloppy defending that allowed them free headers close to goal.

Despite a few uncharacteristic errors, Maya Yoshida in particular having a very inconsistent game, this was a positive performance from Nagoya. There were plenty of lesson to be learned from this game, the only doubt is that the convincing nature of the result may mean that they are not taken to heart. The midfield in particular still lacks imagination, but does a great job of harrying the opposition into errors. We saw a brief glimpse of Sho Hanai towards the end and if the youngster can operate in the team's bustling style, he will add some of the missing creativity.

Individually, Masaya Sato proved that he can hold his own at this level, and should be an asset to the team as he gains experience. Hayuma Tanaka already looks at home in the team and is proving he was a good signing. Stojkivic showed that he really might be a great manager in the making. His half-time pep talk changed the nature of the game. Davi and Tamada started to show a bit more awareness of each others movement as the game wore on and look set to trouble even the soundest of defenses.

Ulsan Hyundai
Kim YOung Kwang
Lee Dong Won, YOu Kyoung Youl, Lee Won Jae
Slavcho, Hyun Young Min, Oh Jang Bun, Lee Se Hwan
Almir, Yum Ki Hoon, Cho Jin Soo
Scorers: Cho 24

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Masaya Sato
Magnum (Sho Hanai), Naoshi Nakamura (Kei Yamaguchi), Keiji Yoshimura, Yoshizumi Ogawa (Keita Sugimoto 72)
Keiji Tamada, Davi
Scorers: Yoshida 53, Davi 77, Magnum 86

Other Stories:
AFP/Yahoo News: Japanese teams off to flying start in AFC Champions League
AFC: Nagoya too powerful for Ulsan

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Nagoya Already Two Points Up on Last Season

Today's opening game 3-2 win against Oita Trinita sees Grampus two-pomints ahead of least seasons pace. Of course, we have only played one game but it is a good start to the season. Two goals by Davi, interspersed by one from Tamada were enough to earn all three points.

This game appears to highlight the flexibility that Grampus has at the back. Akira Takeuchi, nominally a centre back who spent most of last year on the right, started on the left in place of the injured Shohei Abe. Whether this flexibility will result in stability remains to be seen, but it will allow Stojkovic to rotate players fairly easily when injuries and suspensions start to become a factor later in the season.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Milos Bajalica, Takahiro Masukawa, Akira Takeuchi (Maya Yoshida 87)
Magnum (Kei Yamaguchi 81), Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura, Yoshizumi Ogawa
Keiji Tamada, Davi (Keita Sugimoto 84)
Scorers: Davi 54, 82, Tamada 75

Oita Trinita
Shusaku Nishikawa
Taikai Uemoto, Masato Morishige, Hiroyuki Kobayashi (Yasuhito Morishima 86)
Robert, Yoshiaki Fujita, Daisuke Takahashi, Mu Kanazaki, Singo Suzuki
Ueslei, Daiki Takamatsu (Akihiro Ienaga 83)
Scorers: Kanazaki 10, Ueslei 84

Update: Highlights of this game can be found on the EuroSport website.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Wenger Analogy Looms Large at FIFA

In their preview of the new J-League season that begins this weekend FIFA could not resist drawing comparisons with Stojkovic's former manager...
It is not as if 4-4-2 is a revolutionary formation introduced by the Frenchman. :-) J-League season looms large

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Stojkovic Upbeat on Grampus Prospects

In an interview with the Japan Times, the Grampus boss says he is not worried about the team's increased schedule this season. Although the Gramaplogue is a bit concerned, since we have the addition of ACL games while having a thinner squad. (There are three less players registered than last year, even if the core team should be slightly stronger.)

It also sounds as though the team will be playing the same attractive football we saw at the start of last season. This proved very successful, but the manager was unable to pursue the same approach in the latter half of the season as injury and suspension meant that the team was without its creative playmakers in some crucial games. This season should see youngster Sho Hanai help relieve this problem, as the second-year midfielder has bee doing well in the pre-season games.