Team Manager Oswaldo Oliveira – press conference after the match against FC Tokyo  

Comment from Team Manager Oliveira after the Meiji Yasuda J1 League 5th sec match against FC Tokyo

I feel Urawa Reds played their best game of the season today. Though we were not able to win the match, we didn’t allow our opponent to create many opportunities either. FC Tokyo players hardly had any chances to come close to scoring goals today. I don’t think our defense had to go through a lot of tough moments during today’s match. However, we lost one goal in an unexpected way. I regard FC Tokyo as the best team in the J. League this season. Their record after today’s match shows three wins and two draws, which is really good. Against such a team, I believe our team played well today.

Questions and Answers

Q: Urawa Reds played in four-back formation today. There must have been many options in terms of the timing for the team to start playing in the four-back system such as from the beginning of the season if they practiced during the pre-season training camp for example.

A: During the training camp, we didn’t have Muto and Aoki with us. In addition, I didn’t know Sugimoto, Yamanaka, Yuruki and Ewerton well enough before the season started. In order for me to initiate changes, I thought I need to know the materials I have at my disposal well. Based on my observation, I felt that the team was lacking in their aggressiveness in order to score goals.
However, when we had the recent break during the FIFA Match Day period, I was able to test the four-back formation with the team during our practice matches. I was able to spend some of the time the team had to practice this formation. We had noting to lose as we just had to switch back to the three-back system again, if the four-back system didn’t work out to be positive.

Q: You mentioned that Urawa Reds played their best match for the season today. I agree that your team’s ball possession rate was higher than FC Tokyo’s. Do you think this was because your team was superior in terms of power or this was more to do with tactics?

A: Since we increased the number of our mid-fielders, we had more players with skills in the middle. I trust this helped our ball possession rate to increase. Since Kashiwagi had to be replaced by another player after half time due to his injury, our team’s momentum was lost. But, when we can have Kashiwagi, Muto and Nagasawa on the pitch, it is easier for us to have the ball in our possession and there is no doubt that this would have a calming effect on our team.
I feel that Ewerton is also fitting in well into that mix. For this reason, I am sure our performance will be even better in the coming weeks.

Q: Both Muto and Aoki joined the team again from today’s match after recovering from their injuries. What kind of positive impact do you think their return had on the team?

A: Muto is a player who can connect team members. He is very sharp and can connect the members really well in all aspects. He is very agile and can make the team function well. He is a very flexible player.
As for Aoki, he can balance well between both marking and defense. They are both very important members for our team.

Q: Yamanaka joined the team towards the end of the match and did well in terms of a free kick and assisting team members.

A: Yes, he did very well. I think he is gaining confidence now. We are also learning more about him at the moment. He is at a stage where he is fitting himself into the team. As he has good skills in kicking and passing the ball, I can see things are progressing for the better for him.

Q: I trust that you changed your team’s formation in order to improve your team’s offense. However, it seemed as though the team was struggling to get into the opponent team’s penalty area. Was it because FC Tokyo had strong defense or the team still needs to improve themselves?

A: FC Tokyo has a very good defense. I think their defense is getting even better under Team Manager Hasegawa’s leadership.

Q: I believe the winner’s mentality comes down to determination and the power of believing in yourself. Your team achieved positive results over the previous five matches and drew a tough match by equalizing the goal at the very end of the match today. Reflecting on these points, what do you have to say about the winner’s mentality?

A: I believed in our team until the very end of the match. Since our team was playing a very good match, I knew we didn’t deserve to lose. In addition, I had some weapons at our disposal. Since the match progressed without any goals being scored for a while, I was thinking to inject our weapons into the team 10 to 15 minutes before the end of the match to win the game. However, since we unfortunately lost a goal, I changed our players in the way that was different from our original game plan.
FC Tokyo was not playing a defensive match today. Therefore, I was thinking of putting Shibato in the mid-field to add more aggressiveness to the team. However, I envisaged that FC Tokyo would be more defensive if our team started to lead the match. For this reason, I adjusted our strategies accordingly. That was how we had played in our recent match against Cerezo Osaka. During the Cerezo Osaka match, after we led the match, the team switched back to strong defense. We were able to respond well when Cerezo Osaka started to press us hard.
During that match, we had already changed our players up to the maximum number allowed at that point. As that was the case, after we led the match, we were not able to change any more players to change our play style. As such, we adjusted our players’ positions and play style to play a more defensive match.

Q: You mentioned that the team played at its best today. Does that mean that today’s formation and tactics will be the team’s foundation for their upcoming matches?

A: We will play our next match against Yokohama F. Marinos. But, depending on the match we play, we must change our way accordingly. For this reason, I cannot say how we played today will be our basis to move forward. As for Yokohama F. Marinos, they are highly skilled team. Their three Brazilian players are also of high-quality. They are an opponent team that we must be very careful of.

[Urawa Reds Official Media (URD: OM)]

Team Manager Oswaldo Oliveira – press conference after the match against FC Tokyo