Team Manager Mischa - press conference after the match against FC Tokyo  

Comment from Team Manager Mischa after the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company J. League 2nd stage 12th sec match against FC Tokyo

During the first half of the match, we were not able to build up the game well from the back and struggled to move the ball forward. Our players seemed a little nervous and found it difficult to show their true strength as they struggled to build up the match and just kicked long balls. As I touched upon during the pre-match conference yesterday, we have been playing without any substantial break since we started the season on 15 January. The hot summer weather must wear our players out more than we imagine.

We finished the first half of the match with the result of zero to zero and I believe that our players might have thought the result was acceptable. Such an attitude might have contributed to their poor performance at the beginning of the second half. Urawa Reds is always expected to win. During the recent match against Yokohama F. Marinos, though our team put so much pressure on our opponent team, we ended up finishing the match with zero to zero. However, our players must be acutely aware that finishing a match with a draw is not acceptable. For this reason, our team players should not feel it is acceptable to finish the first half of the match with zero to zero as long as they can score a goal in the second half of the match.

I suspect that I may be the only team manager who criticize today’s result. After all, our players won their away match against FC Tokyo with the result of three to one. Because our opponent team scored the first goal soon after the second half began, this put good pressure on our players which made them take a more aggressive approach. I believe this helped to ignite our players’ performance.

Our team created several potential opportunities to score four or five goals in the end. What I regarded positive was the fact that our players didn’t slow down even after they got ahead of our opponent team. Even after they led the match with the result of two to one, they aimed to score more goals. What I often see in the Japanese soccer sphere is that once a team is ahead of their opponent team, they start to play a defensive game rather than going for more. I think it is important for Japanese soccer players to have more fierce and aggressive attitude whenever they see an opportunity. This is what I always tell our players and I was glad to see our players were able to show the type of attitude I wanted them to exhibit.

I would like to give you an example based on my experience in the long past from the German League. When a match was soon to finish with a result of one to zero, the loosing opponent team replaced their stopper with a forward player and started to play very aggressively. In order to respond to this, the other team which was led by Team Manager Happel went to talk to him to replace their own forward player to a stopper. However, Team Manager Happel decided to replace their current defender with an even more aggressive defender instead. As a result of this, his team was able to win a few more goals and finished the match with a victory. When I saw this happened, I learnt so much from this experience.

As far as the basic concept is concerned, if your opponent team was making aggressive attacks against your team but if your team was only focused on your defense, sometimes you may be crushed by the overwhelming pressure put on by your opponent. However, if you can put an aggressive player in the space created as a result of your opponent players’ movements and if you can also play aggressively, it may make it easier for your team to score more goals. This is another way of thinking. In Japanese soccer, the common notion is that once your team is ahead of your opponent, you concentrate on defense so that you can finish the match with the result. However, playing even more aggressively should be regarded as another way of moving the match forward.

To sum up, our team struggled to do well during the first half of the match today. However, they managed to play their style of courageous soccer during the second half especially after our opponent scored their first goal. In the end, our team was able to pull out the type of game that was worthy of our victory. Though our performance was quite different during the first and second halves, it was great that we were able to win and that we were able to learn from the differences. As a few important matches are waiting ahead of us next, the one against Sanfrecce Hiroshima as well as Gamba Osaka, we will do our best to challenge ourselves so that we can continue to have a positive momentum going for us.
[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD: OM)]

Team Manager Mischa – press conference after the match against FC Tokyo