fifa world cup 2022

Your move Moriyasu: What will Japan’s enigmatic manager do against Spain?

21 Comments
By Fred Varcoe

Japan will face Spain in their final Group E match at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Friday morning, Japan time, almost certainly needing a victory to advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. A draw will only be good if Costa Rica and Germany draw their final match at the same time. That may still be a possibility, but after Sunday’s disastrous 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, Japan really don’t look good enough to get anything out of their final game.

Japan had never lost to Costa Rica in three previous meetings and, to be fair, they didn’t look like losing on Sunday. One mistake was all it took. Well, one mistake that resulted in a goal. Japan weren’t short of mistakes from the players on the pitch and the manager off it. Japan looked like they expected to beat Costa Rica without having to try very hard. If that was the case, they were doomed before they started.

Manager Hajime Moriyasu didn’t help the cause with his starting lineup and his actions during the match. The only change he made in the back four was to bring in Miki Yamane for the woeful and fortunately injured Hiroki Sakai at right back. Of course, this meant he decided to ignore what worked against Germany and stick to his favored formation of four at the back, two holding midfielders and four blokes running around up front. His attacking options against Costa Rica were Ritsu Doan, Yuki Soma, Ayase Ueda and Daichi Kamada, leaving his three most effective attackers – Kaoru Mitoma, Junya Ito, Takuma Asano – on the bench, even though they had changed the game against Germany. You could add Takumi Minamino to that list as well, if you want.

Football is not about who’s the most skillful player; it’s about who’s the most effective and it was hard to see any of Japan’s attackers being effective in the first half. Despite their 7-0 loss to Spain, Costa Rica are known as a good defensive team and they showed that against Japan. Neither keeper had anything to do in the first half. Literally, nothing. Costa Rica, not surprisingly, were keen to shut up shop and Japan were so predictable, the game became a complete stalemate.

Kamada had a dreadful first half with passes going astray and body language suggesting he wasn’t up for the game. How he stayed on for 90 minutes is a mystery. Soma, Ueda and Doan are all journeyman attackers and they huffed and puffed to no avail. When they did find space, the midfielders failed to spot them, so they were wasting energy in the 32 C heat.

So, on comes Asano for Ueda at halftime; good move. But Moriyasu takes off Nagatomo and brings on Hiroki Ito in a back three. Ito was a disaster. Costa Rica’s goal actually started with more poor control by Kamada on the edge of the Costa Rica penalty area. Ito and to a lesser extent Yoshida flapped around unconvincingly in defense and suddenly Keysher Fuller had enough space to direct a shot past Japan keeper Shuichi Gonda.

Ironically, it came as Japan were starting to make headway in attack. Asano’s introduction put Japan on the front foot and the addition of Mitoma and Junya Ito in the 67th minute gave Japan the traction it needed up front. It was only a matter of time before Japan scored, but if you only give your best combination 23 minutes, you’re going to run out of time pretty quickly and if you allow your opponents to score with nine minutes left on the clock, you’re effectively doomed.

So, what will Moriyasu do against Spain? Unfortunately, Japan’s manager seems quite pleased with himself, so the danger is he might not do anything other than plonk down a similar starting lineup. But against Germany and Costa Rica, Japan looked more dangerous after Asano, Mitoma and Junya Ito had been brought on as subs. Dump Kamada and maybe put on Shibasaki as a playmaker who can actually penetrate a defense and Japan could grab a couple of goals against Spain.

Of course, it’s also quite likely that Spain will grab a few goals against Japan. They have a classy striker in Alvaro Morata and plenty of speed on the wings, but like Germany, they might be vulnerable to speed at the back, so it might even be worth considering Daizen Maeda up front supported by Ito, Asano and Mitoma. More likely we’ll see Asano up front with Mitoma and Ito on the wings, but that would be trying to second-guess a manager who doesn’t seem to be able to second-guess himself. 

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “I cannot forecast the action of Moriyasu. He is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Should be a good game….

Japan vs Spain. Dec 2, 4 a.m. (Japan time). Live on Fuji TV.

© Japan Today

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21 Comments

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He is as a far from enigmatic as possible

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Paella on the pressure?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Hopefully the manager reads this website and follows the advice of this esteemed writer who seems to be the greatest mind in Japanese soccer.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I agree with the writer that Spain are going to score goals. No point sitting back and getting 11 men behind the ball. Moriyasu-Japan have to just attack and go for the win.

it might even be worth considering Daizen up front supported by Ito, Asano and Mitoma. 

I agree with this line-up. 2 or 3 forwards is the only way. I'd rather lose 5-3 having a go, than 1-0.

Cmon Samurai-Blue! Make that Best 16 and shock the world.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

“ Your move Moriyasu: What will Japan’s enigmatic manager do against Spain? “

heheh I knew what it was coming just from reading the title;

..

“ Manager Hajime Moriyasu didn’t help the cause with his starting lineup and his actions during the match. The only change he made in the back four was to bring in Miki Yamane for the woeful and fortunately injured Hiroki Sakai at right back. Of course, this meant he decided to ignore what worked against Germany and stick to his favored formation of four at the back, two holding midfielders and four blokes running around up front. His attacking options against Costa Rica were Ritsu Doan, Yuki Soma, Ayase Ueda and Daichi Kamada, leaving his three most effective attackers – Kaoru Mitoma, Junya Ito, Takuma Asano – on the bench, even though they had changed the game against Germany. You could add Takumi Minamino to that list as well, if you want.

Football is not about who’s the most skillful player; it’s about who’s the most effective and it was hard to see any of Japan’s attackers being effective in the first half. Despite their 7-0 loss to Spain, Costa Rica are known as a good defensive team and they showed that against Japan. Neither keeper had anything to do in the first half. Literally, nothing. Costa Rica, not surprisingly, were keen to shut up shop and Japan were so predictable, the game became a complete stalemate.

Kamada had a dreadful first half with passes going astray and body language suggesting he wasn’t up for the game. How he stayed on for 90 minutes is a mystery. Soma, Ueda and Doan are all journeyman attackers and they huffed and puffed to no avail. When they did find space, the midfielders failed to spot them, so they were wasting energy in the 32 C heat.

So, on comes Asano for Ueda at halftime; good move. But Moriyasu takes off Nagatomo and brings on Hiroki Ito in a back three. Ito was a disaster. Costa Rica’s goal actually started with more poor control by Kamada on the edge of the Costa Rica penalty area. Ito and to a lesser extent Yoshida flapped around unconvincingly in defense and suddenly Keysher Fuller had enough space to direct a shot past Japan keeper Shuichi Gonda.

Ironically, it came as Japan were starting to make headway in attack. Asano’s introduction put Japan on the front foot and the addition of Mitoma and Junya Ito in the 67th minute gave Japan the traction it needed up front. It was only a matter of time before Japan scored, but if you only give your best combination 23 minutes, you’re going to run out of time pretty quickly and if you allow your opponents to score with nine minutes left on the clock, you’re effectively doomed. “

What a great article (!) (!) (!)

This is a lesson to thousands of people in Japan who are afraid to speak up;

You should criticize when you need to criticize; don’t be afraid; the truth is on your side;

Japan wasted a BIG chance vs CostaRica; I’m not gonna say “the samurai blue need a miracle today” but they need to play the game of their lives;

let’s see what happens; Good luck (!) (you’re gonna need it)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan must go all out for the win and go down fighting if that is the result. They have a chance to win just like all teams.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Just don't play it safe or let everyone have a turn or you'll be slaughtered. Grow some and go for it.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Who here will also be up at 4am for this game? Can't wait!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The match will start 10PM local time. 10 PM!!

Players should be resting.

But no, we do whatever it takes for our whiny, entitled european fanbase to enjoy the match with a cup of tea (or beer) at 7~8pm after they are done with their work days.

Go have it in Europe only, if you only care about Europeans, FIFA. pathetic

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Lose.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

The whole senpai/kohai culture in Japan does not lent itself to strong sports teams. It's a major reason why Japanese teams cannot really compete with the big boys on the world stage. Any younger player, no matter how talented, is expected to defer to/pass to/set up their elder team mate, the latter being deserving simply due to their seniority. Sports which the Japanese do well at tend to be more individual in nature (judo, curling etc.).

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

The whole senpai/kohai culture in Japan does not lent itself to strong sports teams. It's a major reason why Japanese teams cannot really compete with the big boys on the world stage. Any younger player, no matter how talented, is expected to defer to/pass to/set up their elder team mate, the latter being deserving simply due to their seniority. Sports which the Japanese do well at tend to be more individual in nature (judo, curling etc.).

Japan Baseball 2 WBCs and 1 gold medal, Japan Softball 2 gold medals, Japan Ladies Football 1 World Cup title and etc.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Japan Baseball 2 WBCs and 1 gold medal, Japan Softball 2 gold medals

Exactly. Thank you for helping me make my point.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Exactly. Thank you for helping me make my point.

Not individual sports as far as my eyes can see.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Well, we don’t know yet what he will do. But my recommendation would be a 4-2-4 formation, four defenders, two defensive midfielders who are capable of keeping the ball and make passes that reach the target players, and of course four offense players, some who might develop some pressure onto the Spanish goal, if not by skill then by more incidental chances. Nothing else can be done against the Spanish team, which is surely the much more pressing and skilled favorite on paper and with the bookies.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

When did enigmatic become a synonym for incompetent?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Got to be feeling the heat. A loss and the J media will probably pile on more pressure. But good luck Japan!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Refreshing to read a japan today original.

Whatever the result ....

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.

Churchill after a large, expensive brandy

Win!!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Isn't it a wee bit harsh to describe Doan as a "journeyman attacker"? He made quite a significant contribution to the win over Germany after all. I once saw him (optimistically) described as the "Japanese Messi", but of course I have to admit that he hasn't justified that nickname yet. Who knows, perhaps he will tonight.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A few days ago some were begging for a 'gentleman's agreement'. It's a japanese way of pleading for spain to not embarrass them.

The german team is crap this wc.

This comig match between spain vs japan will be men vs boys.

Hope spain dumps in goal after goal.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Fred, if they'd won with the selections Moriyasu made, you'd be full of praise. Easy to do someone else's job when you just have to write about it!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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