Tokyo Verdy – Match Report vs Yokohama FC (24/07/2022)

In the 28th round of the J-League 2, Tokyo Verdy received Yokohama FC. Hiroshi Jofuku’s team tried early on to control the game through possession, executing elaborate exits from the back, attracting the opponent, and exploiting the space granted in the back of the pressing lines. However, they did so at a speed that allowed Yokohama FC to recover defensively without a glaring effort. Tokyo Verdy still managed to create several dangerous moves but never scored a goal. It was then that in the seventy-seventh minute, from a pipe, the visiting team successfully finished from a header and sealed the final result.

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

Koki Morita

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 08/08/2000
  • Club: Tokyo Verdy
  • Career: Tokyo Verdy
  • Position: Central Midfielder
  • Preferred Foot: Right

With his slender, elastic, and agile body, Koki Morita benefits from his low center of gravity to float past opponents with the ball always glued to his foot. Whether it’s one, two, three, or several touches, the Japanese youngster is capable of adding a special touch to all his actions. Against Yokohama FC, it was a delight to watch him.

Starting from the center midfielder position, Koki always showed the ability to get behind the opponent’s midline, but not always with well-placed supports, which made him take more time than necessary to see the game from the front. If he didn’t receive in the right half-space, he had no problem going down near the central defenders to take the game and organize from the back, which allowed him to be permanently connected to the game’s flow. He showed great technical ability combined with a good tactical understanding, which elevated him to another level during the game. The ball glued to his feet was his trademark, and he always tried to decide well when making the team progress, either carrying the ball or combining with his colleagues – he looked for several direct combinations that his colleague did not always respect.

From a defensive point of view, Morita tried to close the central corridor in a zonal way and showed some difficulties at the moment of containment, as he gave much space to the ball carrier. He always knew when and how to provide defensive cover to his high-pressing colleagues. At the moment of defensive transition, Koki was not consistent: sometimes, he reacted quickly and managed to recover his position; other times, he disconnected from the game and was not available to defend.

The constant use of scanning to observe, read and understand the game, the spaces, and the opponent’s positioning pleased me with Koki Morita. Besides the magic he carries on his feet every time he touches the ball, this is only possible because the player can understand everything surrounding him.

Rating – A2

Given his quality on the ball, his youth, and Koki Morita’s reasonable understanding of the game, the Tokyo Verdy midfielder should at least be in Japan’s top flight by now. If he leaves, he could do so directly to any mid-table team in a European league that plays attractive football and respects the player’s football culture.

Mizuki Arai

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 25
  • Date of Birth: 14/04/1997
  • Club: Gil Vicente FC
  • Career: Urawa Red Diamonds, SV Horn, SC Sagamihara, Kataller Toyama, Tokyo Verdy, Gil Vicente FC (L)
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder
  • Preferred Foot: Right

The match against Yokohama FC was probably his last match for Tokyo Verdy, as Mizuki Arai joined Gil Vicente in Portugal on loan a few days later. After only 45 minutes of the second half, Mizuki Arai could still provide some good detail from the left wing to the center. With the ball always close, he was able to drill his way into the final third and try to be productive with his final pass.

Playing as a left winger, Mizuki tried to have the support oriented in most situations. However, he did not always succeed, which caused him to lose time and space. Whenever he received the ball in good conditions, he had no problem dribbling and leaving the opponent behind. He could also combine in the side corridor, which allowed him to appear in depth with plenty of space to make decisions. Arai could have made a better decision in those moments if he carried the ball longer and looked for a low pass instead of crosses.

From a defensive point of view, Mizuki reacted well to losing, forcing the opponent to play poorly or to lose the ball. In addition, he was able to recover defensively at a reasonable speed. He was not tested in the defensive organization.

Mizuki Arai, like his colleagues, showed good game scanning ability. He always knew what to do when the ball arrived and managed to win his time and space to create something. However, he showed difficulties in the last third. Still, in a move from outside, he made a great shot into the top right corner of the goal, which the opposing goalkeeper only stopped.

Rating – A2

Mizuki Arai has shown a great rapport with the ball at his feet and has managed to create danger at various times. However, his decision needs to be finalized before he can leap to a higher level. In the meantime, he has already been transferred to Gil Vicente FC. However, he can still rise further.

Hiroto Taniguchi

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 30/09/1999
  • Club: Tokyo Verdy
  • Career: Tokyo Verdy, Kokushikan University
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Possessing a good physique, although his 1.81 meters does not indicate that he is, Hiroto Taniguchi is a complete central defender in the various scenarios of the game. Strong yet agile enough to excel at passing and dribbling, Taniguchi could well be playing at a different level by now, not least because of his good defensive skills.

Against Yokohama FC, operating on the left side of the center of defense, the Tokyo Verdy player was noted for his vertical passing ability, both through the air and on the ground. He found teammates at the back of the opponent’s midfield but also managed to stretch the game and find his team’s wingers through balls placed diagonally through the air. Movement between defenders was never compromised, with Taniguchi’s passes always taking the right direction and tension. From the point of view of progression, the young central defender was not outstanding. He rarely tried to use that tool.

Although the game rarely called him upon, Hiroto Taniguchi was faultless defensively. He made good tackles and always defined the timing of opponents’ interceptions well, which elevated him throughout the game. Besides that, Hiroto was always available to respect the team’s collective organization in the defensive moment and knew how to behave in the defensive transition moments. In other words, he always tried to delay the opponent’s action so his colleagues could help him.

What made me notice the excellent performance of the 22-year-old youngster was related to his individual technique and tactical principles. Taniguchi scanned in all game scenarios, both offensive – to find the free man – and defensive – to control the ball, the space, and the opponent simultaneously. This constant scanning is something reasonably valued by coaches of another level. Moreover, defensively and offensively, he continuously guided the supports well, facilitating all his actions with and without the ball.

Rating – A2

Hiroto Taniguchi’s overall game makes it easy to point to him as a future player for teams in the top half of the table in Portugal, Belgium, or the Netherlands. The quality of his passing would be valued in any European league, as would his mastery of defensive principles. It is even surprising that he is not yet in the top flight in Japan.

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