Friday, 29 April 2011

Piksi Magic Works Again as Tamada Strikes

A much improved display by the men in red sees them grab their first win of the season. A professional and hard-working performance, gives them a 2-0 over a useful Frontale team. Despite loosing Mu Kanazaki for this game, and Tulio after only 28 minutes, the team were too good for the visitors. Keiji Tamada marked his return with both goals, but setup by some good post play by Josh Kennedy, the second via a neat back-heel by the big Aussie forward. And once again, the manager managed to lift the team when it matters.

This was a game in which Nagoya's theoretical advantage in match sharpness bore fruit. Despite an otherwise good game by Frontale they were always half a yard off the pace. Percentage wise it was a close game, Grampus edging possession 51% to 49%, but Kawasaki did not have their usual penetration and only forced Narazaki into one memorable save, although Tulio deflected an early effort by Inamoto that might have been dangerous.

Frontale got off to the better start, with Inamoto and Yamase both having a couple of early efforts on goal, neither of which seriously troubled Narazaki. However, they lost Inamoto after only 13 minutes and this forced them to switch their most dangerous player, Kengo Nakamura, into a more defensive role. Thereafter, the game became the typically close battle that we have come expect from these two teams. Fujimoto sent a curling shot just over the the bar, after Frontale keeper Sugiyama had fumbled a clearance. Yajima responded with an effort for the visitors, that also flew just over. Josh Kennedy, looking more like his usual self, hit a shot on the turn, but was falling away from the ball and skewed it wide.

As the game approached the half-hour mark, it was Grampus' turn to lose an influential player as Tulio's dodgy hamstring started playing up and he was also forced to retire hurt. Fortunately, Chiyotanda looked good and combined well with Masukawa to deny the visitors the sort of space in the box to test Narazaki. Nagoya took the lead when Kennedy won a header in the box and laid the ball off to his left for Tamada to send a right foot shot into the far corner. Frontale looked as though they had pulled level near the end of the half when Yajima slotted home after a good break by Yamase. However, the effort was ruled out for offside with no real complaint from the visitors.

The second half saw Frontale again get off to the better start, with Yamasa creating a chance early on for Yajima but the forward was again found wanting for composure. Juninho, on for Noborizato, was also looking off the pace. The Brazilian is usually a one-man wrecking machine against us, but found our defence impossible to penetrate on this day. He had a couple of promising runs, but could not get past Chiyo and Masu.

Meanwhile Tamada and Kennedy continued to look like adding to the Grampus lead. A good buildup saw Tamada burst through on the left of the box, but his first touch let him down and the chance went begging as the angle become too tight for a reasonable shot. This was followed shortly afterwards by another chance that saw Masukawa head over from five yards after a good break by Fujimoto and Tamada had left Sugiyama exposed again. Tamada then sealed the three points with his second, again combining well with Kennedy. The lanky Aussie did well to hold on to the ball near the edge of the box and his neat back heal sent his strike partner through to fire a shot past the hapless Sugiyama. Grampus then started to play for time with possession but continued to hassle the visitors when they had the ball, with Nagai harrying the defenders till the very end.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Grampus Crash to Earth in Saitama

After Tuesday's heroics in Seoul, it was back to J1 action for Nagoya today. But it was not a happy return to J.League action as they found Urawa in fine form.

Our problems in defensive midfield, in the absence of the injured Danilson, came home to roost. Yoshimura and Ogawa proving utterly unable to hold Urawa back in the first half, when Marcio Richardes and Tatsuya Tanaka gave the home team a comfortable two goal lead. Tatsuya was having one of his good days, when he looks national team material, and it was his 12th minute shot that proved too hot for Narazaki to handle as Richardes closed in for the first goal. He then added the second on 25 minutes.

We made a better sowing in the second half, but were always going to be vulnerable to the counterattack, as we pressed for a goal. And so it proved as Haraguchi burst through the middle and netted the rebound after Narazaki had parried his first effort.

Grampus lineup vs Urawa Reds (24 Mar 2011)

J.League Bounces Back; Trumps Other Asian Leagues

This weekend saw a full slate of J1 and J2 games take place in Japan. The first games since the opening weekend of March 5th and 6th for most teams. Despite having the advantage of playing some 'competitive' games in the ACL for the last couple of weeks, three of Japan's ACL representatives crashed to heavy defeats against fresher J1 opponents.

Grampus falling to a 0-3 loss in Urawa, the Antlers also conceding three to the Marinos (also 0-3) in what was ostensibly a home game at National Stadium, and Gamba going one better, losing 4-1 in Hiroshima. Proof positive that the j.League is the best league in Asia.

J.LEAGUE2011 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad on the iTunes App Store

The J.League finally catches up with times and release an iPhone app. It's a bit soon to tell how useful this will be, but the News is free. (The news itself appears to be in Japanese only though.)
J.LEAGUE2011 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad on the iTunes App Store

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

ALC Round Up

Here are a few other views of yesterday's game, and of the other ACL action this week.

First up, the official ACL view: FC Seoul 0-2 Nagoya Grampus
Al Ain 1-0 Hangzhou Greentown
FootballFanCast: AFC Champions League wrap: Sydney, Nagoya clinch away wins

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Grampus Go Top of Group

A battling 2-0 away win in Seoul sees Nagoya go top of their group i the ACL. Goals by Kanazaki and Nagai doing the damage. Seoul were good but lacked the composure to break us down, and we closed them down well to deny them time. A good performance from rookie, Yoshida in his first start saw him help setup the chance for the first goal. This was easily our best game of the season so far. The game got off to a fierce, combative start, with both teams playing hard from the whistle. Tulio was forced to make a good block from a dangerous chance early on and Ogawa fired off a rasping shot from 20 meters as both teams sought to get an early goal. Grampus were looking a lot tighter than they have done so far, and were closing down opponents much more effectively. This saw the home team restricted to taking pot shots from around the box, rather than being able to break us down. A fierce Dejan shot was palmed away, and the same player almost got his head on the resulting corner. GOAL! A closely fought game turned our way when Mu Kanazaki pounced on loose ball after an Ogawa shot, from a delicate pass by Makito Yoshida, fell invitingly for the Mie native. Having fallen behind, the home team pressed forward in search of an equaliser and had Narazaki and the defenders at full strecth for the remaining 15 minutes. Another long range effort stung Naraz's finger tips, who then had to react smartly to save a deflected shot shortly afterwards. Meaanwhile, up front, Nagai was operating as much on the left wing as striker, but without the towering presence of Josh Kennedy it rarely resulted in danger. Masukawa made a brave block on the edge of 6-yard box, the big man making the most of his size. Seoul's best chance of the half came near the end, but Dejan stumbled over his own feet after creating space on edge of box. His scuffed shot was easily saved by Narazaki. The home team wasted another chance to pull level when their other forward, Molina, dragged a shot well wide from a promising position. And so an fairly even half saw us go into the interval with our slim advantage intact. The home came out blazing at the start of the second half, and it took another Masukawa block on edge of box to clear an early chance. However, there commitment to attack meant that Kanazaki and Nagai caused problems with their speed. Mu, was the first to surge through, but blazed over after a good break from midfield. Fujimoto then almost released Nagai through the middle, but slightly overhit his pass. Yoshida almost through but the defender shielded the ball well and allowed the goalies to collect as the youngster closed in. Masukawa was having a monster of a game, the gentle giant making second good block of the half to spare Narazaki making a save. The Koreans then saw a deflected shot bounces just over the bar, but wasted the corner. Once this intital flurry of activity had dies down after about 15 minutes of the half, Nagoya started to retain possession a bit better and the game resumed the balance of the opening 20 minutes or so. Fujimoto won a corner with some tricky play on the byeline. Abe's volley from the cross sailed well wide. Keiji Yoshimura then ripped a blast that was tipped onto bar as we pressed for the goal that would make the game safe. Morina saw a curling effort drift just past Narazaki's far post. On our next counterattack, Nagai beat offside trap but failed to convert the chance from a narrow angle. GOAL! However, Nagai pounced on defensive error to nip in and round keeper for the second and silence the home fans. The game then played out as we sought to run out time and the home team lacked the energy to make a comeback.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Piksi is all over the news today,,,

First up, several English newspapers have suggested he is one of the candidates to replace Pat Rice as Wenger's assistant next year. Would Stojkovic be interested in being assistant to Wenger having established himself as our best manager ever? Arsenal assistant manager Pat Rice to leave at end of the season

Next up, The Japan Times has an article on team's season to date, and the need to adapt.

Japan Times: Stojkovic admits he has room to grow as manager

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Grampus Win!

At the fourth time of asking (fifth, if you count the Super Cup), Nagoya finally get a win in 90 minutes. They romped to a comfortable 4-0 win over Al Ain in the ACL. The vital win resurrects their ACL campaign ahead of next week's clash with group leaders FC Seoul.

Grampus lineup vs Al AinNot the 4-4-2 formation the club lists, and Fujimoto and Ogawa interchanged freely, but this is a better indication of the positions Nagai and Kennedy took up.

First half – Nagoya got off to a lively start with an Ogawa shot clipping the bar after only three minutes. A few minutes later Kennedy had a chance on edge of six-yard box but his control let him down. Al Ain finally took advantage of the space they were being allowed on the flanks and a shot from the right edge of the box flies over. El Ain gradually gained the advantage for the next few minute and Narazaki was forced into a good save after a break through the middle. However they fell behind close to the half hour mark when Kanazaki tucked home after being put through by a neat Kennedy lay-off. Al Ain came back strongly, and Elias blasted over after another dangerous break. Nagoya finally started started to gain the edge in possession in the final third of the half, but the UAE team continued to look dangerous on the break and were being too many free shots. Fortunately, it was easy to see why they have failed to score yet. Despite some promising positions they shooting was woefully inaccurate. Josh Kennedy looked set to extend our lead a few minutes but fluffs a chance from 2 yards after good work by Nagai. Al Ain midfielder Elias had a golden opportunity to pull them level after 38 mins sliced wide with the goal at his mercy. The half looked like ending with us holding out for a narrow one-goal lead, Kanazaki snook in ahead of Kennedy to nod home a second two minutes into the one minute of added time. Second half – The first chance of the second half fell to Al Ain who earned a free kick on edge of box after two minutes, but they failed to test Narazaki with another woeful effort. A much sharper looking Grampus were pressing far more effectively than in the first and this prevent the visitors from getting forward as much. This saw us gradually assume control and both Kanazaki and Kennedy drew fouls on the edge of box as the Arabian defenders started to struggle to contain our movement. Narazaki was only called into serious action once during the half when he tipped over a good effort from edge of box after 14 minutes. On the quarter hour mark, Nagai looked all set to add to the lead but slipped as he tried to volley home a cross from the right, sending his effort inches wide. A minute later, we did extend our lead when Keita (no relation to Sugimoto) put past his own keeper when Masukawa pulled the ball back across the face of goal after Tulio had challenged for the initial ball. Stojkovic then switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the introduction of Yoshimura for Kanazaki. This allowed Ogawa and Fujimoto to take up more attacking positions and the tactic soon paid off after Ogawa is put through after a neat ball from Fujimoto, but Yoshizumi fluffed his shot for an easy safe. Fujimoto was next, heading over from close-range after Nagai had scampered down the left and whipped in a testing cross. Shortly after the half hour though, Fujimoto felled as he broke clear through the middle. Fares Juma receiving a red card for his desperate lunge. Jungo calmly curled home the free kick. As the game wound down Grampus gave some time to young subs Yoshida and Isomura, but the team failed to add to its tally.

Scorers: Mu 27', 45+2', OG 61', Jungo 77'

The Mainichi View: Soccer: Kanazaki at the double as Grampus pick up ACL win

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Keano Set for Victory?

It looks as though Roy Keane may take over at Melbourne Victory. However, some reports are playing down the prospects, but this may just negotiating tactics from those involved.
Onlooker Roy Keane will not talk of Melbourne Victory job | The Australian

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Grampus Claim First ACL Points of 2011

This game saw Nagoya start their first competitive game for a month. The lack of match practice became increasingly apparent as the game wore one, with the visitors looking the better team in the second half. We started with Nagai upfront, alongside Kennedy and Kanazaki since Tamada is nursing a sore knee.

Grampus lineup versus FC Seoul

Seoul started brightly in the first half, with their simple approach creating a couple of half chances, but they soon found themselves behind. Nagai pounced on a poor bit of control in midfield to burst through the middle and flick the ball home with the outside of his foot, as the keeper closed him down. Seoul pressed effectively to prevent us from establishing our rhythm, but rarely threatened themselves. A Fujimoto free kick was well parried by the keeper, after Nagai had been felled by a high challenge. After this we gradually started to establish our rhythm, but the Koreans kept us under enough pressure to prevent creating clear openings.

Seoul again got off to slightly the better start, stringing some neat moves together, but again failed to test Narazaki. The speedy Nagai chased down a back pass and almost grabbed a second as the flustered keeper dithered and eventually had to clear hurriedly. Kanazaki and Nagai then combined well to set up a good chance for Mu, but the Mie native shanked his shot over the bar. However, the visitors looked calm in possession and pulled level when full back Choi Hyun Tae blasted home from 30 yards. Josh Kennedy being a bit lax in allowing the player time to set himself off. Seoul continued to look the slightly sharper, with both Ogawa and Fujimoto failing to impress. Both are more inclined to attack than defend, but the two have not gelled yet, in the three games the team has played so far this season. Fujimoto was replaced by rookie Makito Yoshida after 73 mins. Despite Seoul's edge in possession and speed of thought, it was Grampus that had the better chances to claim the victory. Nagai saw his snap shot drifts wide after the keeper had fluffed an attempted clearance, and late sub Chiyotanda rushed a shot in additional time.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Sponsors desert Chinese football

China's kung fu kickers look like they will struggle to find any one, other than corrupt gamblers, daft enough to give them money. Meanwhile the AFC still lets them play in the ALC.
BBC News - Sponsors desert Chinese football