A new column has started from a few weeks and we’re trying to bring forward this weekly appointment. Every weekend we’re gonna try to watch two games, one from J1 and one from J2. Maybe sometimes there will be space for J3 in the int’l breaks, but those two will be our main topic. “The Regista Diaries” reviews two games we watched throughout last weekend, so let’s start.
Yokohama F. Marinos v. Kashiwa Reysol 1-1 (HLs)
We can’t really hide here: given the run of form Marinos were coming from, we feared this might have been the last match for Nelsinho. After losing 4-0 at home against crumbling FC Tokyo, another defeat – even if in Yokohama against the Ange boys – could have looked like a nail in the coffin for the Brazilian head coach. Reysol have suffered the loss of Olunga, but more than that an instable defensive set up.
Postecoglou opted to field the usual suspects, confirming Takaoka on goal – despite his dreadful performance in Kashima against Antlers – and starting Amano in the midfield, while Maeda and Onaiwu are now coexisting in the starting eleven. While Maeda had a successful period as a no. 9, Onaiwu has now cemented his credentials as the lone striker, with Léo Ceara coming in through games.
Different story for the guests, who – as we said – feared probably for the worse. And that might be why Nelsinho decided to start with a 4-4-2 instead of the usual 3-4-2-1, strengthening the defense. Nakama and Kamiya played pretty low, while Esaka kept company to young striker Mao Hosoya, who filled the shoes of missing Hiroto Goya (Angelotti started from the bench).
Despite we had some doubts about this strategy by Nelsinho, somehow it worked: having Nakama and Kamiya covering all the spaces on the flanks helped Reysol limiting danger from the hosts, who instead found hard creating something in the last 30 meters. There was though a controversial decision which could have changed the game, with celebrate referee Yuichi Nishimura on the wrong side of history.
After losing the ball, Thiago Martins had no other choice than pulling the shirt of Hosoya, who was almost free to run towards Takaoka’s goal. It seemed a pretty clear red card, at least because the Brazilian center back was the last man standing. Nishimura opted to book Thiago Martins with just a yellow, leaving Hosoya and the guests comprehensibly perplexed about the decision.
Overall, Reysol seemed pretty much in control. They actually built more chances than the hosts, although they were less dangerous than Ado Onaiwu: the Marinos striker hit the post around the 54th minute, edging his opponent over a cross by Amano. Despite the changes, Marinos didn’t scare Reysol, who almost got ahead when Kamiya squandered a clear chance in front of Takaoka.
Fireworks were reserved to the end. On the 81st minute, a cross by Nakama found Theerathon pretty unprepared on marking the substitute Shinozuka, who hit the ball on the second post to bring Reysol ahead. Luckily for Marinos, four minutes later, a blast from 30 meters by Ken Matsubara – not exactly new to these heroics – defeated Kim Seung-gyu and brought the context to a draw.
The game ended 1-1, but we wouldn’t worry too much about Marinos: a bad day at the office can happen to anyone. The Postecoglou boys struggled even to build up plays and cloging the field with a lot of men under the line of the ball helped Reysol. It’s a matter of details: with Onaiwu scoring around the hour, maybe the game would have then easily fallen in Marinos’ lap.
Same goes for Reysol, who overall deserved the point and maybe even more, given how poorly judged was the episode around the contact between Thiago Martins and Hosoya. Still, it’s early to say if this was just a good trick to use against Marinos or a possible idea for the future. Reysol’s problems are clear: no clear goal scorers, they’re missing Cristiano and the defense is just a mess. Tough to say if the Summer will bring improvements.
JEF United Chiba v. Machida Zelvia 1-1 (HLs)
It was a strange day at the office for both teams. JEF United Chiba were probably hoping to give some continuity to their run of results, maybe winning in front of their fans. Instead, Machida Zelvia were confident after beating even the leaders on the table – a 2-1 home win against Albirex Niigata represented the first stop for Puig’s side – and hoped for another three points to clinch.
Yoon Jung-hwan fielded a 3-5-2, with Taguchi playing as the regista and opting for Saldanha and Funayama up front. On the other side, Ranko Popović could finally count on both Dudu and Jong Tae-se, so the head coach started Dudu alongside Aria Jusuru Hasegawa, while the former Shimizu sat on the bench. Zelvia also featured on Ota as a starter and captain Taiki Hirato in the middle of the pitch.
It seemed a very nervous game from the start, with several small brawls after some rough tackles and yellow cards. Luckily for the guests, things looked promising after minute 15: on a free kick by Hirato, Dudu headed in the advantage, leaving no chance to Arai. Still Dudu almost scored a brace five minutes later, forcing Arai to a narrow save to avoid the worse.
JEF had though the credit of reacting and they found the equalizer in the 41st minute, when a cross by Yonekura met the head of Miki, who first was fouled outside the area, fell almost injured and then crawl up back on his feet to find some space in the middle of the penalty box. With this equalizer, the first half ended, but the guests definitely looked the best team on the pitch.
In the second half, the brawls continued, but JEF basically disappeared from the pitch. Meanwhile, the entrance of Jong Tae-se on the pitch helped Zelvia becoming even more dangerous, with the striker almost scoring with a deflection on a shot by Dudu some minutes after his entry. And this was just five minutes away from another dreadful “J2 should have at least goal line-technology” moment.
On a corner kick by Hirato, a slight deflection found Kai Miki completely alone. The side back from Machida headed his goal home, with keeper Shota Arai coming too late to avoid the worse. 2-1, right? Wrong, because the ball has clearly overcome the line, but it didn’t matter. No one saw it and then Zelvia were robbed of three clear points. In a whirlpool of substitutions, the guests almost found the runaway goal.
With just a few seconds to the end of the game, Jong Tae-se found a way to anticipate Daisuke Suzuki and flew towards the goal. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t capable to past Arai, who stopped the striker at the last moment. It was a squandered chance for Zelvia to climb even further the table, but the signs were mostly positive: if playoffs were in place, they would be fully on the run for them.
While Machida are another victim of the lack of technology in officiating below the first division (and they won’t be the last), JEF United can be satisfied of having snatched one point from this context. They still lack a clear identity after 18 months of Yoon Jung-hwan on the bench and their only silver lining is the explosion of Saldanha. Will it be enough for the rest of 2021?
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