Kawasaki Frontale – Match Report Vs. Ulsan Hyundai (15/04/2022)

Kawasaki Frontale drew Ulsan Hyundai 1-1 in their first of the AFC champions league. Kawasaki played in a low block, looking to limit Ulsan’s shots. They did this quite successfully, with Ulsan only recording three shots. However, the Japanese side did struggle a bit to break Ulsan down when they had the ball, relying on a dramatic last-minute equalizer via a goalkeeping error. 

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Kento Tachibanada

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Japanese 
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 29/05/1998
  • Current Club: Kawasaki Frontale 
  • Career: Kawasaki Frontale (Y), Toin University 
  • Position: Central Midfield 
  • Preferred foot: Right

Kento Tachibanada showed some strong technical ability but I am not sure about his ability to defend. Tachibanada lined up as part of a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 but in practice he pushed forward very aggressively, often ending up further forward than Daiya Tono in the #10 spot. He created a couple of good moments with these forward excursions. On one occasion he was able to unleash a vicious right-footed shot that the Ulsan keeper was able to push around the post. On another, he showed great pace and off-the-ball movement to join a counterattack. His run was into the space outside of the centre-back but ultimately his cross did not find anyone.

He was very good at finding pockets of space in which to receive passes. He looked composed with the ball at his feet, able to make quick turns while maintaining close control of the ball. There were a couple of times where I thought he looked a bit hesitant to make a more difficult forward pass but for the most part, he did a good job of maintaining possession and getting the ball forward.

But on the defensive side of things, there were some problems. It was not for a lack of trying. Tachibanada worked very hard to close down opposing players. But he was not very good at actually stopping them. He was easily bypassed whether it was via a dribble or opponents simply passing around him. It’s certainly better that he work hard unsuccessfully than do nothing at all but he probably shouldn’t be playing as a #6 anytime soon. Also of note, he was subbed after 70 minutes so it would be interesting to see in future viewings if he can keep that running up for a full match.

Rating – B1

Tachibanada is right on the line between a B1 and an A2. Ultimately time is not on his side. He became a professional player relatively late and will be turning 24 next month. He is certainly useful at his current level (and J League is a very good level). But I would be worried about his defensive weaknesses getting exposed at a higher level and I’m not sure the other positive aspects of his game would make up for it. If he was turning in these kinds of performances as a 20-year old that would be one thing but at almost 24 there isn’t much time for him to take the next step.  

Daiya Tono:

  • Nationality: Japanese 
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 14/03/1999
  • Current Club: Kawasaki Frontale 
  • Career: Honda F.C, Avispa Fukuoka
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder 
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Daiya Tono lined up as a #10 but he often ended up dropping deeper when Kawasaki was in their low block. He showed some flashes of skill but ultimately had a hard time breaking down the Ulsan backline. Tono did a decent job of finding pockets at the edge of the box to receive the ball. From here he would usually lay it off to teammates. But he had a hard time breaking into the box or creating any high-quality scoring opportunities.

He was always trying to flick the ball over or between defenders but it never came off. He showed a good first touch and a couple of nice changes of direction with the ball at his feet. But these plays did not translate into any high danger scoring chances. Tono was on corner duty for Kawasaki and he hit some dangerous-looking driven deliveries, though sometimes he put a little too much power on them. I also felt that Tono was a bit lacking in killer instinct around the box. He was often floating on the edge of the box out of possession but his movement was very static and not directed towards the dangerous areas of the pitch.

At 5’4” Tono was one of the smallest players on the pitch. Unsurprisingly he had a hard time winning headers and physical battles. Tono’s physical realities further limited his danger in the box-it was almost comical when he went up for the ball against the Ulsan centre-backs. 

Rating – B1

Tono has been quite a productive player in the J-League so far. He certainly has some skill but performances like this against top Asian competition do not fill me with confidence that he can hit the next level. He’s 23 so the time for him to grow is limited. But, as I mentioned earlier, his goal contribution rate in the J-League is quite impressive so we shall see how he continues to perform in AFC competitions. 

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