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Review: Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-0 Cerezo Osaka (J1 MD30)

  • TEAM

Signs of improvement despite a scoreless draw. The team stopped their losing streak at 3, and will take on the Osaka Derby, a must-win game, in the next round.

The Meiji Yasuda J1 League resumed after a three-week break following the last match against Shonan Bellmare. Cerezo Osaka went on the road to face Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the 30th round of the J1 League. There were three changes to the starting lineup from last week. Koji Toriumi started for the first time in two games, Satoki Uejo for the first time in three games, and Matej Jonic for the first time in five games since the match against Nagoya Grampus in the 25th round. 

Before going into the break, Cerezo had lost three consecutive league games without scoring a goal. Looking for a change, Cerezo started the match in a 4-3-3 formation, with Shinji Kagawa as the anchor and Satoki Uejo and Hiroaki Okuno as the inside halves in an inverted triangle midfield. Cerezo dominated the match in the first half, partly by outsmarting their opponents. In the 7th minute, Kim Jin Hyeon played the ball inside to Leo Ceara, who found Kagawa, who passed to Jordy Croux, who fired home from close range. After a good move, Kagawa made the decisive move in the 20th minute. Kim Jin Hyeon broke through the opponent's press and played a precise pass to Maikuma, who crossed for Okuno, who ran diagonally. Okuno got in behind him and finally Capixaba headed home a cross from Croux. In the 34th minute, Croux headed in Kim Jin Hyeon's pass and Maikuma headed home. Cerezo's build-up play kept them out of the opposition's press, while their defensive efforts to regain possession from high up the pitch and fight for the second ball were also relentless. In the first half, Kim Jin Hyeon made two great saves in the 45th minute to keep the score at 0-0.

Cerezo had the first chance of the second half in the 50th minute, when a throw-in on the right led to a cross from Uejo for Okuno, but his shot went just over the crossbar. Cerezo had the best chance of the match in the 53rd minute. Leo Ceara, running diagonally behind the defender, received a superb pass from Capixaba after a rebound from an opponent's set-piece. Ceara collected the ball well and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but his shot was saved by Osako and the number 9 looked to the sky. From that point on, Cerezo was on the defensive at times as Hiroshima pressed even harder from the front than in the first half.

However, goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon stood tall, saving shots from Mutsuki Kato in the 65th minute and Ezequiel in the 73rd minute. Masaya Shibayama replaced Uejo in the 71st minute and played a one-two with Maikuma in front of goal in the 80th minute. His dribble to the inside of the box was more effective as he was able to dribble and fire a close shot in a tight space. It was a promising sign for the future. The second half ended 0-0 with neither side finding the back of the net. Cerezo had gone four games without scoring, but their defense remained focused and did not concede a goal, avoiding a fourth straight defeat and earning a point.

The team's defense stayed focused until the end and did not allow any goals. We overcame a difficult situation and earned a point that will carry us into the next game," said Kim Jin Hyeon, who played a key role in the team's scoreless draw. Okuno, who played in a new midfield formation, reflected, "I think we played effectively, and I think there are areas where we can improve," but added, "I think we can trouble the opponent if each player takes a good position while watching the opponent without worrying about form. Next up is the Osaka derby against Gamba Osaka. Akio Kogiku is determined to improve the quality of the entire team and increase the number of times we share the same image. The team wants to create as many chances as possible to find the back of the net in the next game and get three points for the first time in five games.

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