Wednesday, 19 March 2014

ACL: Cerezo Osaka 4 - 0 Buriram United

Surprisingly Popovic made only one change yesterday with Yuta Someya, signed this season from Kyoto Purple Sanga where he was captain, making his first start at centre back. This showed how much we needed to win this game but Buriram United proved to be less of a test than Shandong on the day. Fairplay to them, the Cerezo players didn't look tired despite playing a higher tempo passing and pressing game than we are used to. The hard work paid off and we made it look easy in the end as Diego Forlan got his first goal for us with the last kick of the game. Kakitani scored the first and was named man of the match but 19 year old Minamino put in the most eye-catching display with 2 goals and a stunning all-round performance. I'm not used to posting about Cerezo without saying something negative rained yesterday, that's it. You can see the full 90mins with English commentary by clicking here!

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Cerezo Osaka 4 - 1 Shimizu S-Pulse

The first half was exciting and either team could have been winning at the break. Fortunately for us S-Pulse couldn't finish off their best chances. The second half was a different story. It looked like Popovic told the players "Look, you can't defend so this is a dangerous scoreline, go out and don't stop attacking until the game is won." Who knows what he actually said but that's what it looked like. A great 45 minutes of attacking football followed and we created lots of chances. Forlan failed to find the back of the net but was getting into good positions. Happily Sugimoto got his name on the scoresheet with the 4th goal after his clumsy challenge gave Shimizu a penalty in the first half. Left back Maruhashi got our second and also hit the bar with a rocket of a shot. Our first and third goals game courtesy of our centre backs Yamashita and Kacar from set pieces. Ogihara was dropped today and Aria moved into the centre of midfield where his performance was much improved. Very promising performance particularly in the second half but we should expect a bit of rotation for our next game against Buriram United of Thailand in the ACL. Our second home game this season saw 20,323 compared to 37,079 two weeks ago which is worrying for the club as we have planned for consistently higher gate receipts this season.

Still not sure who that is on the flag. Any help?

Omae sends Jin-Hyeon the wrong way

Packed behind the goal but lots of empty seats visible elsewhere

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Cerezo Osaka 1 - 3 Shandong Luneng

How annoying was that game? We were outplayed at home, had no cohesion and couldn't cope with Shandong at all. First goal was offside but if we want to prove we belong in competitions like this, or are title contenders, some days you have to beat the opposition and the ref. Vagner Love cost Shandong 12 million Euros and he scored two on the night. The Shandong players were on a 3 million yen win bonus for this match too. Playing two up top leaves us vulnerable and requires both Yamaguchi and Ogihara to be on the top of their game but they were overrun on Tuesday. Aria again looked like he hasn't added much to our squad but hopefully just needs more time. At least Popovic seems to recognise the quality of Kusukami whose stepover was as important to assist Kakitani's strike as Nicols's pass. Oh the timewasting. I haven't felt so annoyed at a team in such a long time purely because that level of timewasting, by their keeper in particular, is an anachronism in today's game but the ref couldn't assert any kind authority. Another worrying performance, going to Shandong will be tough if play like this again. We can still get out the group so the booing from our fans was unwarranted, the team need to get used to playing the way Popovic wants and that will take some time, more patience is needed.

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Tokushima Vortis 0 - 2 Cerezo Osaka

Glad we got the points obviously but this was a poor quality game at the Pocari Sweat Stadium. Thanks to a great free kick from Yamaguchi and an own goal by Chiyotanda we came away from Tokushima with 3 points. This was Tokushima's first home game in J1 and they may struggle to stay up based on this performance. Cerezo will also need to find another gear when we come up against better teams. Fans were treated to an Awa Odori show at halftime showcasing Tokushima's famous festival of dance. Serbian Gojko Kacar started his first game at centre-back and looked comfortable. On Tuesday we face Shandong Luneng in the ACL.

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Sunday, 2 March 2014

The season opener is as damp as the weather for Cerezo

A crowd of 37079 were in the renamed Yanmar Stadium yesterday to watch the J1 season opener against reigning champions Hiroshima. Our fans were a bit impatient throughout perhaps expecting immediate results despite a new manager and a few new signings. Ogihara was disappointing but having more competition for places this season means he will be forced to perform with greater consistency. Hasegawa didn't contribute much either hopefully he just needs a few games to settle in. Forlan wasn't fully match fit but showed glimpses of how his link up play with Kakitani could lead to a fair few goals. Ultimately this was the kind of performance and result you would expect against Sanfrecce. Our defending, as ever, never looked solid enough to inspire confidence while we were having one of those days when our attacking play wasn't clicking either. Shiotani scored an unchallenged volley from Chiba's pass who despite being surrounded by pink kits was allowed to find his man. Sugimoto was brought on for Forlan but it would have been nice to see Ryo Nagai who is more direct and arguably more of a goal threat. Interesting to see his development after being loaned out to Perth Glory. Ogihara was eventually subbed for Serbian loanee Kacar. Hasegawa came off for Kusukami and he immediately injected some urgency into our attacking play. Notsuda missed a great opportunity to make it two for the visitors but one goal was enough to bring us back to reality. I fear that a lot of our support were expecting too much too soon especially considering this was our first game in the league and it was against the defending champions. Although there wasn't a huge difference in terms of quality with Cerezo and J1 all predictions for this season are out of the window although considering Yanmar's considerable investment this season it would be nice to improve upon our 4th place last year. New manager Popovic will be looking to introduce some of our new signings for a full 90 minutes especially as we have a busy few weeks ahead with our Asian Champions League group matches. It will be interesting to see how Popovic utilises the likes of Mitch Nichols and Gojko Kacar. We have to get used to not having Simplicio's midfield presence too. Last week we did well to get a point away in an ill-tempered game in Korea against Pohang Steelers with Kakitani scoring another beauty (video below).

The pink ponchos were out in force on a rainy day

Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do? Leave with 3 points thank you

Kacar's positions according to Football Manager

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