Japan 2-2 Senegal: Five things we learned

Source: Ghana/Gideon Baiden
Date: 24th-june-2018 Time:  6:20:04 pm

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Japan twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Senegal in their World Cup Group H encounter on Sunday.

THE BLUE SAMURAI IS NOT ALL ABOUT SWORDS

When Japan warmed themselves into the game in the first half, they were very threatening. Japan was very impressive with their quick passing and a quick switch of play to the flanks. Japan was very confident on the ball and played a very decent possessive brand of football.  Senegal sat back after taking the lead leading to Japan’s fullbacks; Nagatomo Yuto and Sakai Hiroki’s forward push.  A cross-field ball to Nagamoto who trapped the ball brilliantly, laying it to the path of Takashi Inui resulted in Japan’s equalizer.

ALIOU CISSE’S TACTICAL RESPONSE

Japan began the second half on the front foot. Hasebe Makoto, Gaku Shibasaki and Shinji Kagawa seized the initiative in the midfield.  Cisse had seen enough and in the 65th minute, he brought on Cheikou Kouyate for A. N’diaye in order to add some steel and mobility to the midfield. The effect was almost instantaneous as Senegal gained some control in the midfield and took the lead in the 71st minute.

AKIRA NISHINO’S TACTICAL RESPONSE

Nishino looked to clamp down on the threat of Ismaila Sarr and Wague Moussa from the right flank by instructing Inui to track back. We saw more track backs from Inui in the second half as opposed to the first half. After going 2-1 down, Nishino opted to sharpen his attack by replacing Kagawa and Haraguchi with Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki respectively. With more pace in their attack line as opposed to Senegal’s tiring backline, Honda equalized in the 78th minute.

 

SENEGAL’S WEAKNESS AND TACTICAL DISPOSITION

After taking the lead on two occasions, Senegal coiled into a more defensive shell. Defending is an art and if perfected, can result in victory but being defensive didn’t really work out for Senegal. They need to seize the initiative a bit more and try to attack even if they are ahead. Going forward, Senegal relies a lot on Ismaila and Wague on the right flank. We also saw a lot of long balls to M’baye Niang in the first half who was used as a target man. Senegal’s defensive transition was okay as they quickly formed a 5 man defence any time Japan escaped their first wave [where Senegal’s shape became 4-3-3] and second wave [where Senegal’s shape became 4-4-2] of pressing.

 

SENEGAL HAVE A LOT OF LUCK 

A deflection and an untimely back pass ensured Senegal’s victory over Poland. Today, a punch by Eiji Kawashima bounced off Sadio Mane and found the net, resulting in Senegal’s first goal. Aside from tactics and discipline, one needs a lot of luck in order to win a football match. Someway and somehow, Senegal has had a lot of luck in their first 2 games.  

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