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Sunday, 28 March 2010

Cerezo 2-3 Reds

Peter's take on the events at Nagai Stadium yesterday.
Cerezo's loss resulted from giving the ball away too often in their own half and trying to walk the ball into the net. Two of the statistics confirm the story, which anyway stood out like a sore thumb to the game's observers: Cerezo had 53% of the possession, but the Reds outshot them 14 to 7.

3-5-2 again. Amaral came back to right midfield, with the defence reverting to Haneda, Moniwa and Uemoto. No other changes. Kagawa played in central midfield and Omata took the wide left position. After a slight knock but mainly for tactical reasons, Moniwa was subbed by Ienaga in the 71st minute, and Ishigami replaced Omata in the 77th.
Kim; Haneds, Moniwa, Uemoto; Takahashi, Amaral, Martinez, Kagawa, Omata; Inui, Adriano

This game was something of a moment of truth for Cerezo. Cerezo again held their own in midfield, but in this game we saw the weakness of Levir Culpi's Brazilian football compared with the more direct European style of Volker Finke. Having said that, I was really put off by the continual cheating and diving of Ugajin (I think), which left a really bad taste in the mouth--the Braziian-style gamesmanship came mainly from him in this game, and he managed to get Adriano a yellow card for an innocuous incident. In general, the ref was too fussy, although I'm not suggesting that was a reason why Cerezo lost.

Apart from the risks in Cerezo's style of play, the Reds were also able to expose the limitations of three of Cerezo's players: Uemoto, Amaral and Omata. All three are too slow thinking, and Uemoto and Amaral are also short of speed. At this level Cerezo's Brazilian style of play requires quick thinking. Most of the players are capable of that, but, in my opinion, not these three.

The order of the goals was 0-1 (Tanaka 21), 1-1 (Adriano 21), 1-2 (Edmilson 54), 2-2 (Kagawa 79) and 2-3 (Edmilson 80).

The first goal was a gift from Uemoto, although the commentators said Haneda. Faced unchallenged with a routine clearance on the six-yard line, Uemoto just rolled the ball right along the line straight to Tanaka, who had a simple of job of banging it in the net past Kim. It wasn't obvious what Uemoto was thinking of: I don't think he was trying to make a gentle pass to a colleague, unless he completely failed to notice Tanaka and was rolling it to Kim to boot clear; on the other hand, he didn't obviously take a big swing at the ball and make a terrible miskick, so one assumes he was trying to find a colleague just outside the penalty area, took his eye off the ball and got it wrong. It's a mystery, but, whatever, a terrible blunder. Put it together with back-up goalie Matsui's three give-aways this season, and you have to say Cerezo are looking error-prone in defence.

This impression was confirmed by Edmilson's second and Urawa's decisive goal. After a long hopeful punt in the general direction of Edmilson, Uemoto looked favourite to get the ball about twenty-five yards out, but somehow he failed to hold Edmilson off and once Edmilson got a touch on the ball he performed superbly, holding Uemoto off taking the ball to about the six-yard line where Uemoto missed his tackle, then holding off another defender until about two metres from the goal line and squeezing the ball through Kim's legs from a very narrow angle and scoring in off the far post. Kim also might have done better here, but, from the Reds' point of view, it was a brilliant individual goal from Edmilson.

The Reds' second goal was from a misplaced pass by Amaral in midfield but in the Cerezo half and then some slick inter-passing between Tanaka and Edmilson which put Edmilson through and he provided a high-class finish. This was not the result of a defensive blunder by Cerezo but due to top-class movement from the Reds, but nevertheless illustrated the point that you can't afford to give away possession in your own half at this level of football. Mind you, the Reds were very sharp at intercepting passes throughout the match, and they deserve credit for that.

Adriano's goal resulted from intricate very short inter-passing between him and Kagawa surrounded by defenders about fifteen metres out straight in front of goal, persistence by Adriano, a lucky break of the ball to put him through and a clinical finish from about six metres. Cerezo's second goal came from a good break down the left by Ishigami, soon after he had replaced Omata, a beautiful glancing header from Martinez that came back off the inside of the post and Kagawa in the right place to make no mistake from the rebound.

Personally, I would prefer the team selection to be more like last week at the back, with Amaral replaced in midfield by Haneda and Fujimoto coming into the back three. I would also replace Uemoto with Ishigami. I understand why Culpi wants Uemoto: he has good elevation and is good with the outside of his head--but not with his feet and the inside of his head.

Unlike the games with Gamba and FC Tokyo, this game left one concerned for Cerezo's season. Unless they can cut out errors at the back and start shooting when they have three-quarter chances, instead of trying to walk the ball into the net, Cerezo could have a long, hard season in front of them. To be fair, the last three games have been against tough opponents, and Kyoto Sanga will be no walkover next Saturday even at home; but that match has now become one in which Cerezo must show that they are occasionally capable of winning at J1 level. Otherwise, confidence could start to drain away. The team looked devastated by Urawa's immediate response to Kagawa's goal and rather despondent after the final whistle. Two points from four games!

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