Sunday, 27 May 2012

S-Pulse 0-0 Yokohama F. Marinos

 Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 0-0 Yokohama F. Marinos

Att. 16556

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Kawai
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong a Pin
DF Lee

MF Kang (31)
MF Kobayashi
MF Sugiyama

FW Takaki
FW Omae
FW Nabeta

Subs used

Takahara on for Kang (54)
Franca on for Nabeta (64)
Ito on for Takagi (82)

Report

Later, I'm afraid! The gf is glaring at me to get off the computer an out into the sunshine, so in the meantime, read the opinions from the touchline here, at Afshin Ghotbi's own website.

Video

Highlights.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 S-Pulse

 Barry Barry writes

Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 S-Pulse
Abe 42

Att 35,877

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong a Pin
DF Lee

MF Muramatsu
MF Brosque (20, 54)
MF Kawai

FW Takahara
FW Omae
FW Takagi

Subs used 

Franca on for Takahara (63)
Kobayashi on for Lee (64)
Ito on for Yoshida (85)

Report

While the home team oozed mediocrity throughout, yet another red card crippled any hopes of overturning  a goal deficit. Urawa set out their stall by sitting back from the outset and giving us all the possession we wanted while attempting counter attacks. This kind of anti football appears to be our Achilles' heel, and we created very little, whether with eleven or ten men.

Even after Brosque got himself sent of again, Urawa kept it tight, (deep / passive / boring) and we never looked like equalising. The game was effectively in stalemate for long periods. A tactician's wet dream, a casual punter's trigger to reach for the remote. With the home team having taken their chance, and when countering producing more than us, a defeat (a first away in the league there since 2006) was fair.

We drop to third on goal difference after Hiroshima beat Kobe earlier in the day, and Sendai will be going into their game tonight looking to extend their lead at the top to five points. No need to panic, we've won as many as anyone and everyone else save for Sendai (and Tosu!) have either lost three or four. That said, a win next week against Yokohama F. Marinos is essential to get us out of this mini slump and back on track.

Fingers crossed Sendai blow it against midtable Nagoya!

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Evening update. Sendai didn't blow it. They thrashed Nagoya 4-0 and go five popints clear. In the highest scoring game of the day, Kashima smashed Consadole back to J2 (too early to say that? probably not) with a 7-0 walk in the park. Interestingly, all seven goals were scored by different players. Fancy.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Two Awesome Videos

 Barry Barry writes

First, a digest of the first three months of the season. Already several unforgettable moments on there. Takagi's belter against FC Tokyo at 9 men still give me goosebumps.



Second, a quite brilliant compilation of our Toshiyuki. The lad is pure class and has a touch of gold. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Vissel Kobe 1-2 S-Pulse (Nab Cup Group Stage)

 Barry Barry writes

Vissel Kobe 1-2 S-Pulse
Matsumura 64 ----------------------- Kobayashi 55
-------------------------------------------- Takagi 83

Att  3778

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Iwashita 
DF Hiraoka
DF Kawai

MF Muramatsu
MF Sugiyama
MF Kobayashi

FW Nabeta
FW Franca (60)
FW Shirasaki

Subs used

Hiraoka on for Iwashita (32)
Omae (80) on for Sugiyama (68)
Takagi (81) on for Nabeta (75)

Report

I didn't go, nor did I watch it, so all I can really say is job done away from home. That's three out of three in the league cup group stage which is all you can really ask for. To paraphrase Ghotbi, Iwashita was subbed early because he wasn't playing well, had poor concentration and was losing the ball too often. Not the kind of play you want from your captain.

A very much changed team sported starts for Kobayashi, Sugiyama (long time no see!), Nabeta and Shirasaki, but it was Takagi with his 6th of the season which sealed all three points. Kobayashi kept up his good league cup form having scored our winner against Niigata last month. Three points puts us second in Group B, joint with defending champions Kashima on 9 points, but with a game in hand.

The defeat leaves Kobe with three defeats from three and their cup hopes hanging by a thread.


Videos

Highlights, thanks, once again, to Amir! :)

Who is the J. League's Most Successful Club - 2011 Update

Barry Barry writes

OK, so another year has passed since the last update, so let's add in last year's trophy distribution. We forgot to update in the off season, so here we go for 2011! As always, the system is as follows:

League title - 3 Points
League runners up - 1 Point

Cup win - 2 Points

Cup runners up - .5 Points

Continental cups are counted, but show-piece super cups aren't. So without further ado, here's the rankings of the top performing clubs since the professionalisation of the game in 1992:

1) Kashima Antlers 39.5
2) Jubilo Iwata 23
3) Yokohama F. Marinos 18
4) Tokyo Verdy 18
5) Urawa Red Diamonds 15
6) Gamba Osaka 13
7) S-Pulse 10.5 

8) Nagoya Grampus 9
9) Kashiwa Reysol 6
- ) FC Tokyo 6
10) Kawasaki Frontale 4.5
- ) JEF United 4.5



Kashima, even in a mediocre season for them, extend their lead by winning the league cup. Tokyo jump up into 9th along with Reysol who surprised everyone with their league title win.

See you next year!

Monday, 14 May 2012

S-Pulse 1-1 Cerezo Osaka (FULL HIGHLIGHTS)

Barry Barry writes


With thanks to Amir for the heads up!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

S-Pulse 1-1 Cerezo Osaka

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 1-1 Cerezo Osaka 
Brosque 96 ---------------- Kakitani 15

Att 15891

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Iwashita (74)
DF Hiraoka
DF Lee

MF Muramatsu
MF Brosque
MF Kawai

FW Omae
FW Ito
FW Takagi

Subs used

Takahara on for Takagi (55)
Kobayashi on for Omae (63)
Franca on for Yoshida (78)

Report - It ain't over till it's over

"Jammy bastards!" Came the email from my Jubilo supporting brother (who only chose Iwata to wind me up). He was following the game online back in England, just ready to rub it in when we lost. But sorry for him, there were absolutely BALMY scenes behind the goal as Brosque poked in the easiest goal of his career on 95:50. It dramatically levelled the score on a day which looked like we were never going to hit the target.

We equalised with the very last kick of the game. Five minutes had gone up as stoppage time, but the game didn't restart until over a minute into that because their keeper had required extended treatment. He also limped off as we tried to take a corner, and Kempes strolled off at a leisurely pace when substituted on 93m, both of which required additional time on the additional time.

It was one of those games. A bad day at the office with more misjudged passes than I care to remember, an opening goal gifted to the opposition, and a general air of frustration which crept in more and more as the game went on. Omae and Takagi were struggling to make an impact and were both replaced early in the second half. With the experienced Takahara and Kobayashi on things slowly turned around, and the last 15 minutes we finally started to get the bit between our teeth.

Time was running out though, and things became more and more frantic. We created one or two genuine chances, but couldn't hit the target, and the growing sense of futility around the stands was palpable. But! The very last cross was swung in, Brosque didn't connect well and the keeper was all set to pounce. Muramatsu had the same idea but before he could reach the ball, he was taken out from behind by Kim Song-Gi. Both collided with the keeper, the ball spilt and Alex was on hand to nudge it home. Cue an explosion of relief on the terraces, and the final whistle.

Not a great performance, but a point won in the most unlikely of circumstances, and that, dare I say it, is the mark of a team which is going places. Far from being just jammy bastards as my big bro insisted, it was pure determination and unwillingness to give up which made sure we didn't end this game empty handed. It maintains our unbeaten home record, and keeps us just two points off top spot.

Next up is Kobe away midweek in the cup, so expect to see the kids given a run out as we try to carry on our winning run in the group stage. Then on Saturday it's away in Saitama to an Urawa team who also played out a 1-1 draw today.

Never a dull moment as an S-Pulse fan, and today was another ending to a game never to forget. Night night!

Pictures

Hiraoka (3) in for the suspended Jong a Pin
Shimizu Oz-Pulse
Goal hero Alex Brosque
One for the Gamba fans

Videos

Alex's late, late equaliser. The noise when Brosque poked it in is something incredible. Also got to love the players' literal jumping for joy - especially Sho. :)



In great slow motion, an effort off the line, and then our goal.



Both goals and an interview with Brosque. A rare mistake from Hayashi saw Cerezo take the lead.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sendai 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes

Sendai 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
------------------------------- Omae 40

Att. 18525

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Iwashita
DF Jong a Pin (57, 68)
DF Lee

MF Muramatsu
MF Brosque
MF Kawai

FW Franca
FW Omae (53)
FW Takagi (62)

Subs used 

Ito on for Franca (51)
Kobayashi on for Kawai (66)
Hiraoka on for Takagi (71)

Report - A Truly Golden Week

First of all, the red card on Jong a Pin was complete, utter, crap. Wilson was running alongside Jong a Pin and into another white shirt when he clearly realised he wasn't going anywhere. Cue a drop to the floor, the ref fooled, a second yellow for Jong a Pin, and us down to ten men. Credit where it's due (although it feels like thanking a killer for sparing you) referee Ryuji Sato didn't give any of the dives in the box in the last ten minutes. And there were a lot. Topping the list, Wilson again. A cross was swung in, and as it sailed harmlessly over everyone's heads, the Brazilian just fell over. Just fell over. Nobody touched him, was looking at him, or even heading in his direction. HE JUST FELL OVER AND APPEALED FOR A PENALTY. Absolutely shameless, but mercifully ignored by the officials.

But I don't want to dwell on the negatives. Sendai are a good team. The attack well and defend deep. It was clear to see why they have been unbeaten this season. Coming into this game after two in the previous seven days, our squad depth was coming to the fore. Brosque was back in, as was Franca. Ono was rested completely, Ito back on the bench.

The game was only 13 minutes old when a storm rolled in, turned the sky pitch black and pelted the teams with hail the size of marbles. After a 45 minute break, the teams were back out. The pitch had patches of standing water as the hail had given way to a steady rain, so the passing game of both teams was effected. We broke the deadlock through what is becoming a familiar story. Takagi lofted a perfect ball over from the left to the waiting Omae. This time it was met by Genki's head, and bosh. 1-0. That's the third time this season that combo has borne fruit.

That was not long before half time, and so it was at the break. The second half Sendai had a lot more possession from the off, but Lee's brilliant reading of the game coupled with Jong a Pin and Iwashita solid presence in the centre kept the home team largely reduced to long range efforts. Our three Golden Week games have ended at an aggregate of 5-0, and our stingy defence is the basis of those nine points. Hayashi made several crucial stops today, the best perhaps being when a freekick wasn't cleared and he got down low to stop a point blank shot on goal. Another huge performance, and makes you wonder why he was playing in the Belgian third division.

After that harsh, harsh, harsh red card, it was inevitably all hands on deck trying to keep out the home team. Until then we were positive and threatening with both side backs instrumental in our attacking movements. This will be the last time I say it this season: Ota isn't being missed at all. Local lad Yoshida and Lee are doing sterling jobs as side backs, both defending and attacking. Nor is Ljungberg's sudden departure preseason anything of an issue. We've rolled with the punches and come out stronger. The Tokyo game and now today showed how our character and mental strength has come on in leaps and bounds. Not to mention the physical stamina required to successfully see out games when outnumbered.

And now I'm clearly rambling, so I'm going to wrap it up, but what a brilliant Golden Week it's been. Being the first team to beat Sendai takes us to within two points of them at the summit of the table. The boys now get five days to prepare for Cerezo Osaka (who lost at home today) this Saturday. No Jong a Pin thanks to that red card, but apart from that, no injury worries. A chance to go top! See you at Nihondaira.

 1cm sized hail caused the game to be stopped at 13m
13:15 in the afternoon
Goal Hero Genki

Videos

Takagi --> Omae. Getting something of a habit with these two. Full highlights here (embedding disabled for some reason).

Friday, 4 May 2012

S-Pulse 3-0 Kashima

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 3-0 Kashima
Ito 5
Takagi 72
Omae 75

Att. 18393

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Iwashita
DF Jong a Pin
DF Lee

MF Muramatsu
MF Ono
MF Kawai

FW Omae
FW Ito
FW Takagi

Subs used

Takahara on for Ono (66)
Kobayashi on for Omae (75)
Nabeta on for Takagi (88)

Report - Deer Hunting

Beating Jubilo comes head and shoulders above everything else, but a notch or two along the list is doing Kashima. On Saturday we didn't just beat them, we handed their arses back to them on a plate. A brilliant performance, and might easily have been four or five.

Our opener didn't take long. A swift exchange of attacking passes resulted in a cross dangerous enough for Kashima defender Iwamasa to make such a hash of things that his interception was in fact a fierce strike at his own keeper. Sogahata did great in stopping the shot, but Ito was hand to stab home the loose ball. 1-0. Ito will benefit from this goal, and fair play to him. He earned it over the 90 minutes.

Kashima got more of the play after that, but with Jong a Pin, The Wall, holding things together at the back  the visitors only managed one shot the whole first half. In the next 45 they put four efforts in on goal, but the second half happened to be one of the best we could have played. Quick, exciting, dynamic and most importantly, fruitful. Given the way we came out like a pack of rampant lions, the only surprise was how long it took for us to extend our lead.

The pace of the first 15 minutes was something incredible. Instinctive passing and speedy movement off the ball that Antlers just didn't deal with. Three or four times we found ourselves deep in the Kashima penalty area and they barely escaped each time. The closest shave being when Toshiyuki slammed a shot against the bar, but he wasn't going to be denied. In the 70th minute he moved into his favourite zone on the edge of the area, and under pressure from two defenders, picked his spot with all the composure of Cantona. The youngster curled it into the one possible square inch of space between the post and the full stretch Sogahata, then walked to celebrate with his team mates like it was the most natural thing in the world.

If last season was Takagi finding his range (I read somewhere he had among the most shots on goal of anyone, but the fewest ratio of goals), then this year he's showing ominous signs of knowing exactly where the target is, and not being afraid to hit it.

Just moments later, in a goal not dissimilar to one against Jubilo, Takagi closing down the left weighted a perfect cross into Omae who had worked himself free in the area. Unlike derby day Genki used his foot instead of his head, but the result was the same. He whipped home a perfect volley to make it three and pretty much game over.

Cue party time on the terraces and even with 15 minutes left and the game as good as won the boys made no signs of letting Kashima off lightly. It may well have been four or more. This hunger is fantastic to watch and bodes well for the coming top of the table clash against unbeaten Sendai this Sunday.

It's been a top class Golden Week so far, now can we finish it off on the 6th with a victory in Miyagi? Well, Brosque is back from suspension and fully rested. Ono will be ready to join in, if not for the full 90 then at least an hour. Takagi is firing on all cylinders and working up a lethal partnership with Genki. Jong a Pin is solid as a rock, Iwashita is keeping a lid on his temper and his game is coming on as a result. Hayashi is doing a great job in goal. In short, of course we're going to win on Sunday!

More away fans than for the derby? (笑)  --> 磐田
Kachiloco time!
Videos

Highlights. Watch for yourself the orange machine in full effect (against a team that won 5-0 last week, no less).

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Afshin Ghotbi Dot Com!

Barry Barry writes

 AfshinGhotbi.com

Our boss has had a website for a while, but it's recently been revamped and relaunched. It's full of pictures, articles and news, not just from the S-Pulse years, but going right back to the beginning. Yes, I'm talking baby photos. :)

What is surely music to many of your ears must be the news that extended comments and analysis from the man himself will be available on the site. We start with a full report from the sidelines of Saturday's remarkable effort to overcome the odds in Tokyo.

Check it out, and be sure to head back each week for official accounts in both English and Japanese from our man at the helm!

When the cards start flying

Barry Barry writes
 
This Thursday is heading towards a sell out which is the good news. The not so good news is that the flurry of cards on Saturday will mean we're missing a few key men. If you're yet to see them, check them out.


Some of them were fair enough, as with the poor timing for Alex's first, Lee's and Ono's. Jong a Pin took one for the team when they'd broken through, but To Yoshida's yellow was as soft as you like. A shoulder barge, which was never enough to cause Ota to lift both feet off the ground at once and flop over, but then he used to dive when he played for us, so no surprises. The second yellow for Franca was another clumsy ass decision. I can only presume the lino has never jumped for a header in his life.

But in applying the absolute letter of the law as when Jymmy kicked the ball after play was stopped, or giving a second yellow to Brosque for swinging a leg at a free kick (which, let's be honest, the Tokyo player chose to take with the S-Pulse man standing right next to him) you then have to be consistent. So what happened when Lucas was shouting, long, hard and angrily at the linesman when a decision went against him? Nothing. Nothing at all.

So that's us without Brosque and Jymmy on Saturday against a resurgent Kashima who just destroyed Gamba Osaka 5-0. Just to make us an extra little bit nervous, we have Imamura officiating, the same man who took charge of our last meeting with Kashima and presided over this absolute howler.

Taka scores a goal
Was this officiating horror show looked at in any detail to help, in even the smallest way, from it happening again? No, of course it wasn't. Well, enough about that, here's to us rallying and putting in a performance on Thursday.