Posts Tagged ‘Keisuke Honda’
There may have been comical goalkeeping, half-empty stadiums and a ticketing fiasco that marred the final, but the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar was also able to boast some fine football and a handful of breath-taking matches. Football Further looks at some of the tactical points of interest at the 15th edition of Asia’s showpiece tournament.
1. Barcelona have some devoted disciples in East Asia
Qatar’s French coach Bruno Metsu described Japan as “the Barcelona of Asia” after their 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia in the group phase, but the description could just as easily have been applied to South Korea. Both sides pressed the opposition high up the pitch, harrying defenders into conceding possession and constructing attacks based on rapid inter-changes of passes. “When we attack, just like Japan, we go forward and create chances at a high tempo,” said South Korea coach Cho Kwang-Rae prior to the last-four meeting between the sides.
Japan’s high defensive line got them into trouble on occasion – most notably when Sebastián Soria broke the offside trap to put Qatar 1-0 up in their quarter-final – but their football was very pleasing on the eye. Ji Dong-Won’s second goal for South Korea in the third-place play-off win against Uzbekistan, meanwhile, was as slick a strike as almost anything Barcelona have produced this season.
“DOHA — Jubilant three-time champions Japan reached the Asian Cup final after defeating arch-rivals South Korea 3-0 in a nail-biting penalty shootout on Tuesday.”
Read my AFP match report here.
Starting with Nicolás Lodeiro back in December last year, Football Further selected 32 players to watch out for at the 2010 World Cup and then tracked their progress through the tournament via weekly scouting reports. Below is a full compilation of those reports, along with conclusions (and marks out of 10) on how each player performed.
Players with asterisks* were scouted by Football Further in the build-up to the World Cup.
South Africa: Katlego Mphela
- Group match 1 (South Africa 1-1 Mexico): Led the line with uncomplaining dedication, played a key part in the build-up to Siphiwe Tshabalala’s opening goal and hit the post late on with a rather tame left-footed effort.
- Group match 2 (South Africa 0-3 Uruguay): Forced to plough a lone furrow again, he managed to craft a few half-chances for himself but was let down by the quality of the service he received.
- Group match 3 (South Africa 2-1 France): Bowed out of the World Cup with a man-of-the-match performance. Bundled home South Africa’s second goal from Tsepo Masilela’s left-wing centre and could have had a hat-trick. Tested Hugo Lloris three times – twice with well-controlled efforts from distance – and also rattled the post with a side-footed shot from close range.
Overall: 6/10. Made to toil in the hosts’ opening two games, he confirmed his quality in the victory over France.
Mexico: Giovani dos Santos
- Group match 1 (South Africa 1-1 Mexico): Illuminated the first 45 minutes of the World Cup with his enterprising dribbling in central areas. Had less of an impact in the second half but drew fine save from Itumelung Khune with rasping shot.
- Group match 2 (Mexico 2-0 France): Not as influential as against South Africa, but posed a threat whenever he got the ball in the right positions. Looked to get in behind the France defence at every opportunity and sent a low shot a couple of yards wide after outmuscling Patrice Evra shortly before half-time.
- Group match 3 (Mexico 0-1 Uruguay): Often Mexico’s most advanced player, he could not capitalise on the space occasionally afforded him as El Tri were made to accept the unpalatable prospect of a last-16 meeting with Argentina.
- Round of 16 (Argentina 3-1 Mexico): Started on the right but was repeatedly unable to exploit promising situations purely due to the fact he always had to cut inside onto his left foot. Slipped cute pass through to Javier Hernandez in the game’s early stages but endured a largely frustrating evening.
Overall: 7/10. Failed to rediscover the form that made him the stand-out player of the tournament’s opening game, but he nonetheless remained a dangerous weapon for Mexico and was nominated for the Young Player of the Tournament award.
The concept of the false nine – a centre-forward who drops deep – is well established in modern tactical thinking, but in the early matches of the World Cup we have seen glimpses of another player, who facilitates the work of the false nine and operates in tandem with him to destabilise opposition defences: the false 10.
With a central striker who constantly looks to play deep or pull wide, teams need players to break forward from deeper areas to exploit the space created by the false nine’s movement. Typically those players are wingers or withdrawn strikers, but in South Africa they have also been playmakers: Mesut Özil, Keisuke Honda, Wesley Sneijder.
The false 10 par excellence is, of course, Lionel Messi. Originally a right-winger, Messi occasionally features for Barcelona as a lone central striker or false nine but in Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Nigeria he played in a free role behind Gonzalo Higuaín. Nigeria’s defenders struggled to pick him up and he might well have scored a hat-trick had it not been for the brilliance of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
The following 32 names represent Football Further‘s players to watch at the 2010 World Cup. We’ll be following their performances closely over the course of the tournament, with weekly scouting reports rounding up their progress.
Names preceded by squad numbers. Players in bold have been scouted by Football Further in the build-up to the World Cup. Players in brackets were scouted but not called up by their national sides.
England: 23. Joe Hart (Jack Wilshere)
United States: 4. Michael Bradley
Algeria: 7. Ryad Boudebouz
Slovenia: 15. Rene Krhin
Germany: 6. Sami Khedira
Australia: 23. Mark Bresciano (Tommy Oar)
Serbia: 3. Aleksandar Kolarov
Ghana: 18. Dominic Adiyiah
Japan coach Takeshi Okada’s stated aim of taking the Blue Samurai to the World Cup semi-finals has taken a bit of a battering in recent months, with an underwhelming run of results culminating in Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat to a second-string Serbia side in a friendly game in Osaka.
“We can expect nothing from his team at the World Cup, to say nothing about reaching the last four,” warned Japanese TV commentator Sergio Echigo ahead of the game. “The national team is facing a crisis.”
Thank goodness, then, for Keisuke Honda.
With Shunsuke Nakamura’s career on the wane after a disappointing spell at Espanyol prompted an unscheduled return to formative club Yokohama Marinos, the stage is set for Honda to become the new golden boy of Japanese football. The 23-year-old playmaker arrived in Europe in January 2008 when he joined Dutch side VVV-Venlo. Relegated from the Eredivisie in Honda’s first season, VVV bounced straight back up in 2008-2009, with Honda plundering 16 goals in 36 matches and being named the second division’s player of the year in the process.