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Friday, 30 April 2010

Cerezo 0-1 Grampus

Peter gives us the cherry-pink eyed view of last week's game against Cerezo.

Cerezo inexplicably went into their shell in this home game. For some reason, manager Culpi changed from his favourite 3-5-2 system to 4-5-1. As a result, Grampus were able to seize control in midfield from the beginning, eventually dominating possession 57% to 43%. Did Culpi make this change of formation because of the continued absence of key man holding midfielder Martinez? Or did he just have too much respect for high-flying Grampus? Or was it a tactical move for this one game--after all, despite the lack of possession, Cerezo did outshoot Grampus? To me, the hallmark of Cerezo’s game is their ability to keep possession and to play Brazilian-style passing football, so this yielding of the midfield seemed incomprehensible--or perhaps it was a consequence of the change of formation unforeseen by Culpi. Whatever, the effect was to hand Grampus the initiative.

Martinez continued his absence, presumably through injury after being stretchered off at Yokohama two weeks before, but we are still without a word of explanation from the club. His place was again taken by Akihiro Ienaga. Also unexplained was the absence of Adriano both from the team and the bench. The change in formation did not involve a change in personnel except that Bando started as the sole striker but, although he did not appear noticeably weaker than Adriano, he failed to make a real mark--to be fair, he was ploughing a lonely furrow.

Given the new tactics and the absence of Martinez and Adriano, the Cerezo players on the pitch gave a very creditable account of themselves. Cerezo outshot Grampus 18 to 16 and, on the whole, they had the clearer chances and would have won without a stellar performance from Grampus’s captain and Japan national team goalie, Seigo Narazaki; although, to be fair to Grampus, Jin-Hyeon Kim also had to put in a fine goalkeeping performance.

For the second week in succession at Nagai Stadium the result was decided in injury time. (In two successive games at Nagai four goals have been scored, three of them in added time!) Japan international Tamada on his return from injury put in a well-placed free-kick from about 28 metres roughly in front of Kim’s left post; Kim looked to have it covered but another Japanese international CD Tulio rose high in front of Kim and seemed to unsight him, and the ball ended up in the top near corner of the net. Tulio also seemed to celebrate. Watching from the stand, I thought Tulio had got a touch and was staggered when the announcement came that Tamada was the scorer; if that was the case, maybe Kim was not faultless.

A 3-3 result would have better reflected the flow of the game; or, if Cerezo had to lose, 2-3. Although Ienaga had another fine game he had four attempts on goal, one or two of which were optimistic, and failed to find the net. Amaral had his best game so far and got away five attempts on goal, not bad for a volante; nearly all of these efforts were powerful, three of them being blocked and two whistling wide, the second of them in the 94th minute. Despite this, Cerezo missed Martinez’s powerful presence and skill in midfield. Grampus had the majority of possession, but compared with Cerezo’s it was leaden and unimaginative. This was a game of power versus scintillation, with poor finishing and fine goalkeeping from both sides.

Cerezo > Grampus
Shots: 18 > 16
GKs: 17 > 10
CKs: 9 > 7
FKs: 14 > 23
Poss.: 43% > 57%

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