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MATCH

2020 MEIJI YASUDA J2 LEAGUE 23rd Sec - Ventforet Kofu vs Tokyo Verdy

Match Report

Last match, Verdy achieved a 1-0 victory at home against Giravanz Kitakyushu. After looking far from a win in their previous three matches, the result proved a perfect turning point as they reached the midpoint of their most recent streak of five matches. Their opponents were Ventforet Kofu, a team who they defeated 4-2 in the season’s first leg. At the time, the result generated momentum for their campaign and they now headed to away turf looking to duplicate the feat.

 

Changes from the previous fixture were made at multiple position. Ryoya Yamashita started on the bench, while Yuan Matsuhashi was chosen at left wide striker. Lastly, Haruya Ide returned from a match suspension to combine with Koki Morita at the front of central midfield.

 

This was a match between two teams with similar styles and the contest for possession proved fierce. When Verdy held the ball, they were able to push their opponents back for extended periods, while Kofu were able to do the same when the ball was theirs, resulting in a see-saw battle. Kofu chose the simple approach for their attack. In the 19th and 22nd minutes, Izumisawa provided an outlet to push Verdy back in the wide areas and play crosses into the box. Both passes were met cleanly for shots on goal, but the team escaped thanks to a fine save from Matheus and a block by Takayuki Fukumura. In the 34th minute, a powerful effort threatened the Verdy goal but Matheus was equal to the task again and his astonishing reflexes allowed him to beat the ball away with a diving save. On the other hand, Verdy sought to pin their opponents in their half and break them down to set up the finish. However, they were unable to create shots for most of the half, until a counterattacking opportunity arrived before the break. In the 38th minute, after connecting passes in a tight area on the left side, the ball was played to Shion Inoue, who was making his 100th official league appearance. The Verdy man ran with the ball at his feet and cut inside to fire a powerful shot that the goalkeeper could only repel. Junki Koike then tried to pounce on the second ball as it fell in the box, but he was unable to connect and the ball crossed the goal line out of play.

 

As the second half began, Verdy constructed a passing move in the 49th minute that left their opponents chasing shadows. Inoue drifted out to the wide left to receive the ball and his shallow pass across the face of goal was met point blank by the left foot of Morita. However, his low, placed effort aimed at the left corner went just wide of the post. Following that, both teams once again saw even amounts of possession and the play went back and forth until mistakes gradually began to creep into Verdy’s buildup play. The team had ventured too far forward and were not on the same page at the end of moves. The result was the slightest of mistakes in positioning, but it allowed the opposition to threaten on the counterattack. On the other end, Verdy created a clear opportunity from a counter of their own in the 64th minute. Yamashita broke down the right and used his pace to carry the ball deep into the Kofu half before drilling a cross to the far side. Koike received the pass and beat his defender with his first touch, setting up a powerful left footed effort that was kept out by a fine save from the goalkeeper. As the match drew to a close, the team were unable to achieve their ideal buildup play and found themselves in danger on the counter. In the 86th minute, a shallow cross from the left was met, unmarked, but Matheus reacted sharply to make the stop. In the 3rd minute of additional time, a shot was fired from another point-blank cross, but Matheus came to the rescue one final time with a super save.

 

As the final whistle sounded, the manager had used all of his substitutions to strengthen the attack, but the team were unable to change the momentum. Thanks to Matheus’s efforts, however, they still managed to escape the match with a point.

 

In the next match, the team will end their third streak of five consecutive games. The fixture will take place on home turf, at Ajinomoto Stadium, against Omiya Ardija. In their previous match during the season’s first leg, Omiya scored in the first minute and retreated to defend their goal for almost the entirety of the remaining 90. Now, Verdy must earn revenge and build momentum for the remainder of their campaign.

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Post-match comments

Manager Hideki Nagai

Your thoughts on the match?
We truly had very little time to prepare and the match was upon almost as soon as we arrived in Kofu. Of course, after our match against them in the first leg, we had a good image for how we could confront them today and I told the players not to avoid being over confident and to go out and get the three points. We did very little training, so I have to bow my head to the players when it comes to executing our game plan and the things, I asked for during the team meetings. Matheus made some brilliant saves for us on the defensive end, but I also think that the squad concentrated well and were physically tough for the full 90 minutes. Our objective is to have a team where everyone player helps in defense and I think we did that for the entire match, today. Naturally, I’m quite frustrated that we weren’t able to get the full three points, but I think we can stay positive as we begin our approach for the next match against Omiya. Once again, we have very little time in between, but I will try to do the maximum amount of work I can with the players within the time available. With that said, the players worked for the full 90 minutes today and I am grateful to them.

What is your honest impression of the result now that the match is over?
Of course, our plan was to get the full three points, so I’m frustrated with the draw, but it was also the first time in a while that we had to break down a five-man defensive line and if we had more time to prepare and work on that in training, I feel like we could have done more today, so it’s honestly hard for me to swallow. Even so, I think the players did an excellent job. We picked up a point in away match, so I would like to think of that as a positive as we continue preparations.

In the first half, Izumisawa showed his full range of skills on the left side of the Kofu attack. How did you plan to deal with his threat?
Izumisawa is someone who played for us in the past and I also showed the players short video clips that illustrated his skills. The plan was for Wakasa to cut off the areas he likes to get into and then have another defender come and build a numerical advantage as we tried to win the ball.

How do you rate Matheus’s play today, after so many amazing saves.
He has come to our rescue not only today, but in many other matches as well. I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude with him, but I also equally grateful to all the players for the way that, despite some mistakes, they defended well for the full 90 minutes.

The opposition played long balls into the space near the wide areas and the danger from the crosses that resulted stood out today. How do you plan to deal with that in the future?
Of course, the most important thing is to stop them from playing the ball in the first place and since they were exploiting the wide areas, I quickly changed our defensive formation from the 4-3-3 we had at the beginning to 4-4-2 and had the players tighten up at midfield to prevent direct passes from getting through. We were able to see what worked well and what needs improvement, so I think that will help us in the future.

Kofu’s Hideomi Yamamoto would push up into the anchor position when they were attacking. How did you deal with that?
We had scouted that in advance, so we were ready to deal with him when he joined the midfield. If I were to go further, our actual plan was to win the ball when it was played to him, but that didn’t go so well. However, I think the players executed about 70 to 80% of what I asked.

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Post-match comments

GK31Matheus

Your thoughts on the match?
Ventforet Kofu are a great team and are near us in the table, so it was a difficult match and I think getting a win today was important for both teams. I knew that playing them away would be a very tough task, but they had also done an excellent job of scouting the way we play, tactically, and we could tell on the pitch that they were making things very difficult for us. Still, what was most important for us was keeping a clean sheet. In addition, I think the fact that we earned a point from the match despite suffering is a positive for us.

You made several big saves, but how do you look back on your performance today?
That’s my job and I’m happy that I was able to perform well, today.

The opposition’s simple approach in attack let to a lot of dangerous crosses and you had to concentrate hard for 90 minutes under difficult circumstances. Was it difficult to maintain your focus?
Against Kofu and other teams like them who have a speedy attack and like to play on the counter, we have to concentrate hard on not allowing any vulnerability to those situations. At the same time, making mistakes in midfield is the biggest cause of getting hit on the counter and today, the way we lost the ball stood out. That’s why they had so many opportunities on the break. We attacked well ourselves, but they defend well before hitting back and we allowed ourselves to lose the ball in dangerous ways that set up counter chances for them. Even so, the fact that all the players came together and defended with enough physical toughness to hold them to zero is a positive sign and I hope it will give us confidence.

Which save of yours do you think was best, today?
It was when they had a direct shot on goal in the second half (in the 86th minute, when Matsuda’s cross from the right was met in the center of the box by Nakamura with a left footed volley). They were almost able to score off the second ball, but they were flagged for offsides. They were all difficult saves, but I think that one was the most difficult.

With only two days to prepare before the match, how much data did you have on the opposition’s attack?
We had the information we needed before the match and were given analysis and video. It wasn’t really about one individual player. I just knew that Kofu had a lot of weapons in attack.

You exchanged words with Coach Nagai during the water break in the second half. What did you talk about?
At that time, we were being pressed from high up the pitch, so we had to decide whether to continue attempting to build up with short passes or whether we should elect to avoid risks by bypassing midfield with long balls. The manager told me that he thought we should continue trying to build up by passing the ball. However, at the end of the match, the entire squad was clearly tired and we had stopped running. I think there were many situations where we should have tried to get the ball up front faster.

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MF20Shion Inoue

How do you feel about the point you earned?
Just as we do in every match, we began by aiming to get the full three points, so I feel a great amount of frustration. I think that frustration is all the greater because we had opportunities to score.

How much do you think you accomplished what you set out to do?
Not that much, in my opinion.

What was it that made things so difficult for you?
Compared to the matches in which we do well, we didn’t have a large share of the possession and our defensive tactics didn’t seem to be working effectively. However, we still managed to create chances and given the long league schedule, it’s important that we become capable of converting our opportunities and winning, even when we’re on the back foot.

You’ve kept a clean sheet in three consecutive matches. Do you think you’re achieving the manager’s objective of having every player take part in the defense?
We haven’t been pressing from the front as much as we did before and, depending on the opposition, we’ve often been taking up a compact shape in front of our back line. I think that’s been the key to keeping clean sheets. I think it’s a positive that we’re defending with a compact shape.

How did you feel about the mid-range shot you took at the end of the first half?
I felt like it would be on target. We hadn’t been putting in enough shots, so I felt it was important to try.

How did it feel to earn your 100th appearance after five years as a pro?
I think it’s due to the support of many that I’ve been able to make 100 appearances, so upon reaching the milestone, I was reminded of the importance of not forgetting my gratitude.

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