Kawasaki Frontale — Match Report vs Shonan Bellmare (04/03/2023)

After suffering a heart-breaking 2nd place Finnish last season, Kawasaki Frontale has struggled to get the ball rolling this season, whilst, Shonan Bellmare has shown vast improvements from last season. Kawasaki Frontale lined up in a 4–3–3, looking to dominate possession and play on the front foot. Shonan Bellmare lined up in a 3–5–2, where they would focus on direct transitional attacks to expose Frontale’s players in advanced attacking positions. The match ended in a 1–1 draw, and both teams should be happy with the result.



  • 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, re-watch
  • D — Below average in this match

Asahi Sasaki

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 26/01/2000
  • Club: Kawasaki Frontale
  • Career: Ryutsu Keizai University, Kawasaki Frontale
  • Position: Left-back / Centre-back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Asahi Sasaki played the full 90 minutes playing both left-back and centre-back in the 1–1 draw against Shonan Bellmare. Sasaki displayed his versatility by having to fill in at centre-back due to the injury of Jesiel. Sasaki had a fantastic breakthrough season in 2022, and 2023 is primed for the breakout!

Sasaki had the difficult task of facing Shuto Machino, part of the fantastic Japanese World Cup squad and regarded as one of — if not the best — STs in the league. The versatile defender stands at 180cm. He was aggressive and composed in aerial duels, winning the majority of them — despite his small stature. His rash and aggressive nature in tackles would expose him at times, as he would commit too early, making it too easy at times for his opposition to beat him. However, his speed over the first 20 yards did bail him out of his occasional defensive lapse in judgement. Additionally, he can be slow to react to transitional attacks but he did show the ability to delay attackers when in 1v1 situations, forcing them wider. He was much more comfortable defending with the ball in-front of him, where he could read the game, and then jump to apply pressure on his opposite number forcing them to pass backwards or force them into a mistake.

Sasaki showed an impressive tactical understanding & adaptability to the Kawasaki Frontale system. Whilst playing left-back, during the first phase of build-up, Sasaki joined the other 2 CBs to create a 3 man line. Where he showed his composure, vision and technique to progress the ball through the lines. Being both-footed, Sasaki was comfortable playing the ball wide or into central areas. Sasaki has a clear understanding when & where to move, dropping into the half spaces to offer a pass between lines or providing width/overlaps to stretch the opposition. I would like to see Sasaki dribble more in the earlier stages of the build-up — penetrating the lines and creating his own passing options.

Rating — A2

Asahi Sasaki performance confirmed the breakout season is fully underway! What really impressed me was his ability to use both feet, as well as, his vision and composure to break the oppositions lines, and launching attacks. I believe Sasaki’s optimal position would be to play on either side of a back 3. With his aggressive & proactive nature he’s very comfortable defending in the wider channels. Whilst Kawasaki Frontale doesn’t play a 3-back system, I do believe Sasaki has the technical and mental attributes to have a successful season, where Europe could be an option in the summer, following the likes of Mitoma & Hatate. Belgium, Scotland & the Netherlands would suit him.


Yuto Matsunagane

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 14/09/2004
  • Club: Kawasaki Frontale
  • Career: Kawasaki Frontale
  • Position: Left-back
  • Preferred foot: Left

After getting called up from Kawasaki Frontale U18’s this season Yuto Matsunagane was accelerated into his first senior appearance, due to the injury sustained by Jesiel. Playing 35 minutes at left-back in the 1–1 draw against Shonan Bellmare. Matsunagane showed some promising signs in his short appearance.

The 19-year-old stands at 179cm with a lean body type. Despite his age Matsunagane showed maturity and assurance in his 1v1 duels, applying good strength and positioning his body well to protect the ball and muscle away the opposition. Within minutes of coming on, you could see Matsunagane was eager to impress, flying into a 50/50 tackle winning the ball high up in the opposition’s half. He is definitely not one to shy away from a challenge. At times, he was too focused on the ball when defending in the lower block. He needs to scan the opposition more to be more alert to imminent dangers. He was relatively weak in the air, not winning any aerial duels of note against opponents of a similar size to him.

Matsunagane is very comfortable and composed playing with both feet. On two different occasions he whipped in two crosses using a different foot each time — both crosses were flat with little pace, easy for the opposition to deal with. When in possession he would look to play long balls into channels or play quick one-touch passes in tight areas to bypass the opposition, which was done to a high degree showcasing good technical ability. Matsunagane didn’t particularly display anything of note when it came to the offensive side, on occasions he would make an unnecessary underlapping run’s which would restrict the space for the wide player to attack into. Matsunagane wouldn’t often look to create an attacking outlet, he would typically pick up a slightly deeper role to aid the ball retainment.

Rating — B1

There’s difficulty assessing a player when he’s only played 35 minutes. However, Matsunagane showed some very promising signs on his debut specifically highlighting his physical attributes. With Kawasaki Frontale injury/suspension issues at centre-back there could be the opportunity for Matsunagane to get a run in the team at left-back with Sasaki moving to centre-back.


Taisei Miyashiro

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 26/05/2000
  • Club: Kawasaki Frontale
  • Career: Runoff Yamaguchi, Kawasaki Frontale, Tokushima Vortis (L), Sagan Tosu (L)
  • Position: Centre-Forward / Left Winger / Right Winger
  • Preferred foot: Right

Having been on loan spells away from the club over the last few seasons progressing well, Miyashiro has been given the opportunity to lead the line this season. The 22-year-old played 71 minutes as a centre-forward in the 1–1 draw against Shonan Bellmare.

At 178cm and with a slightly below average physical build, Miyashiro is a centre-forward who wants to drop off the line into pockets of space to link up the attacking phase using his good technical ability, vision and decision making — rather than receiving the ball with his back to goal, struggling physically with the opposition defenders, bigger and stronger then him. He possesses good, intelligent off-the-ball movement around the box, as well as making quick runs in behind the last line of defence as he anticipates the opportunity — Miyashiro is very quick off the mark. He was limited to a few shooting opportunities, due to the lack of creativity around him, where he managed to generate a good strike from the edge of the box with a minimal back lift, using his weaker left foot. Miyashiro needs to be more proactive at times in occupying the centre-backs, reducing their cover, picking up more intelligent positions in between them and force them into areas they aren’t comfortable in.

Miyashiro possesses good natural fitness where he provides a good intensity when pressing the opposition throughout the duration of the game. While his tackle’s and interception numbers may be low, he is very quick to close down and to force the opposition to recycle the ball. Furthermore, he is intelligent when positioning himself between the ball carrier and the open man, setting the appropriate cover shadow blocking the passing lane. Despite being small he competes well aerially looking to flick the ball onto a team-mate. While defending corners, Miyashiro zonally marks the first-post zone in which he controlled well.

Rating — B1

Without scoring yet this season Taisei Miyashiro has shown glimpses of why Oniki has persevered with him. Whilst performing ok so far this season I do question whether he’s suited playing the lone centre-forward role. I do believe his technical profile and physical profile suits playing with a partner who can physically demand more from the opposition, or he can operate as an attacking midfielder when he can fully utilise his technical ability operating within the half-spaces. I do hope Oniki sticks with Miyashiro throughout the season, where more game time will be a catalyst for his development.


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