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Review: Cerezo Osaka 0-2 Shonan Bellmare (J1 MD29)

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Creating Opportunities, But a Distant Goal: First Three Consecutive Losses of the Season, Aiming for Improvements During the Break

In a high-stakes away match against Kashima Antlers and Vissel Kobe, Cerezo Osaka faced consecutive losses in a challenging situation. Returning home after three games, Cerezo Osaka approached the 29th round of the Meiji Yasuda Life J1 League against Shonan Bellmare. The starting lineup saw three changes from the previous match, with goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon returning after 13 games, Hiroaki Okuno after 12 games, and Ryuya Nishio in the starting lineup for the first time since the second round against Avispa Fukuoka, a span of 27 games.

Both teams showed strong attacking intent from the early stages, leading to a thrilling development. Cerezo Osaka sought opportunities on the right side with Jordy Croux and Seiya Maikuma, following Kakeru Funaki's side change in the 1st minute. In the 4th minute, Shonan created a chance from a long ball, but Kim Jin Hyeon made an excellent save to deny them. In the 8th minute, Cerezo connected on the left side, nearing the goal, and in the 12th minute, Leo Ceara attempted a shot from outside the penalty area. The proactive number 9 player shone once again in the 22nd minute, picking up a loose ball from the opponent's corner kick, making a solo run, and bringing it to a shot in front of the goal. Immediately after, Maikuma initiated a play, and Capixaba took a shot. In the 35th minute, Kim Jin Hyeon delivered a precise kick to Capixaba, and Hinata Kida received a pass from Leo Ceara, attempting a middle-range shot. Both teams created opportunities in the attacking phase in the first half. However, they also faced situations that could have led to conceding goals, such as allowing Shonan to counterattack from a lack of defensive coordination, getting stuck in building up from deep positions, and losing the ball, leading to potential short counterattacks. Regarding these aspects, after the match, Coach Akio Kogiku reflected, "There was a difference in temperature between players who want to press high and players who want to form a block. The common understanding of compactly defending from all directions and winning the ball collectively was lacking today."

In the second half, Cerezo Osaka faced a few dangerous moments in the early stages, but as they increased their awareness of playing long balls behind the defense while pushing forward, their attacking pace gradually picked up. They began to create a shape that brought them closer to Shonan's goal. In the 58th minute, they connected passes from their own throw-in through Kida, Okuno, Leo Ceara, and Maikuma, with Jordy Croux ultimately unleashing a powerful shot from a cut-in position. In the 61st minute, Maikuma headed towards the goal from a near-post corner kick. During this period, Cerezo Osaka increased their presence in the opponent's territory. In the 72nd minute, Coach Kogiku made two substitutions, bringing on Satoki Uejo and Masaya Shibayama. In the 75th minute, the biggest scoring opportunity of the match arrived. Kida won the ball in midfield and connected with Kagawa and Capixaba, who sent in a cross from the left side. Leo Ceara met the cross inside, but his header narrowly cleared the crossbar. Failing to convert their chances during their dominant spell, Cerezo Osaka conceded a goal from a corner kick in the 79th minute. Furthermore, they conceded an additional goal from a second-phase attack following another corner kick in the 87th minute, making for a challenging situation. Despite Uejo and others continuing to attack in pursuit of a comeback, they couldn't find a goal, and the match ended 0-2. It was a disappointing third consecutive loss.

The league matches will now enter a temporary break, with the next fixture scheduled for October 21st (Saturday), an away match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima. "I want to reflect on what needs improvement and think carefully about it as we approach the last five matches," said Kagawa. Kim Jin Hyeon, who showed a performance in his comeback that didn't betray any rust, also added, "It's up to the players to change the course. We want to make the most of this break and turn it into a good three weeks until the next match." The final five matches of the season will be a test. They will address the issues that arose from the recent three consecutive losses and aim to secure a victory in the next fixture to change the momentum.

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