Sanfrecce Hiroshima – Match Report vs FC Tokyo (22/04/2023)

Sanfrecce Hiroshima fell 2-1 to F.C Tokyo in J-1 action. Hiroshima dominated most of the game but they created relatively few clear-cut chances.


  • 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

Shunki Higashi 

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 28/06/2000
  • Current club: Sanfrecce Hiroshima
  • Position: Wing-back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Shunki Higashi played as a left-wing-back. In Hiroshima’s system, the wing backs play an extremely attacking role. Higashi had the technical skills to play that role very effectively. His left foot is incredible. He is able to put in dangerous crosses, accurately switch the play from one flank to another, and play balls over the top of the opposing defence to spring his teammates in behind. This allows Higashi to dictate the tempo of a match, even from a wide position.

His right foot, while not quite as amazing as his left, is also strong. This adds to what he can do in advanced wide areas because if an opponent tries to push him onto his right, he can put in a dangerous delivery all the same. But of course, there is a “back” element to being a wing-back. Higashi does not do very much defending. This is partly a tactical thing, as Hiroshima pushed their wing-backs extremely high up the pitch. But Higashi was just not that active in the defensive phase of the game. Wyscout credits him with contesting one duel in this game and I can’t say that I noticed it. He very noticeably lost an aerial battle, both by failing to track a runner and losing out on the jump, on Tokyo’s first goal. So, he may be an extremely dynamic offensive threat but he did not show the ability to play a more defensive role in this game. It’s possible he could do it, but I haven’t seen the evidence for it. 

Rating – A1

I think, as long as he is playing the same role as he is at Hiroshima, Higashi could play at a higher level. I think he would be a particularly good signing for a dominant team that is likely to face a lot of low blocks. His talent on the ball could be very helpful. But, his need to play in a specific role probably precludes him from playing in a top-5 league because I don’t think he’s good enough to play for a PSG or a Manchester City. But Higashi could find a home in the next tier down. 

Sota Koshimichi

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 3/04/2004
  • Current club: Sanfrecce Hiroshima
  • Position: Wing-back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Sota Koshimichi played as the right-wing-back for Hiroshima in this match. He was also dangerous offensively but he was much more of a physical and defensive force than his left-sided colleague. Koshimichi is 5’9, which is above average height, but he has very long legs for his size. This can help him in 1v1 defending. Don’t get me wrong, he is still primarily an offensive player, but he can have an impact defensively. One of the ways he had an impact defensively was his very aggressive pressing. He won the ball back high up the field several times. Offensively Koshimichi was surprisingly present in the box for a wing-back. He would sometimes drift in at the back post to get on the end of one of Higashi’s crosses. He is quite good in the air With the ball at his feet he could also do some damage. He did not necessarily dribble past a lot of people but he was very good at using feints to open up a bit of space for himself to deliver a cross. Koshimichi is quite fast both with and without the ball. His speed contributed to him being more active defensively than Higashi. He was able to get on the end of balls played into space and was also a strong ball carrier. He would sometimes carry the ball through more central areas of the field, though as I mentioned earlier he was not necessarily an amazing 1v1 dribbler. I think that the fact that his physical traits stand out so much as a 19-year-old playing in a senior league is a good sign of his ability to develop further. As he gets stronger and faster the good things about his game should only improve. 

Rating: A2

I think Koshimichi has strong potential. He is already having an impact at the J-1 level in his first season of senior football and his main strengths should only become greater as he becomes quicker and stronger. I would say he has an outside chance of making it to a top-5 league. Though he would have to improve his dribbling and become a bit more of a force defensively. 

Makato Mitsuta

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 20/07/1999
  • Current club: Sanfrecce Hiroshima
  • Career: Ryutsu Keizai University
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder 
  • Preferred foot: Right. 

Makato Mitsuta played as an attacking midfielder for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in this match. A little peek behind the curtain, I usually do a bit of research on what players might be interesting before covering a game and Mitsuta was the main reason I chose to watch this match. But I was quite disappointed with his performance. He just couldn’t get anything going from open play. Misuta did a decent job of receiving the ball in the final 3rd. His first touch was quite strong and he was even able to bring a couple of long-range passes down off of his chest. He also showed some good skill in general, with a few flicks and tricks to open up some space. But he just couldn’t break down the last line of defence either with dribbling or passing.

His attempts to dribble mostly just ended in him running directly into a defender. He was able to clip passes in behind the fullbacks a couple of times but none of his passes were particularly penetrative. In some deeper areas Mitsuta did play some good outlet passes, so maybe he could be more effective in a deeper role, but I didn’t see enough of that in this match to say for sure. Mitsuta did take set pieces for his team and his deliveries were quite strong. That was how he generated the handful of shots that he was involved in over the course of this match. He also showed a strong work rate and did some effective pressing. He also tracked back to make defensive interventions. 

Rating – B1

Mitsuta had 9 goals and 8 assists in J-1 last season so he clearly has some value at this level. But I am not convinced he is productive enough from open play to make the step up to a higher level 

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