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Analysis: Sanfrecce execute game plan to perfection

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Daegu v Sanfrecce

Daegu: Sanfrecce Hiroshima moved a step closer to advancing to the knockout stages of the 2019 AFC Champions League for just the second time in their history after a 1-0 win over Daegu FC at the Forest Arena on Tuesday.

Despite conceding the majority of the possession to Daegu, the visitors were able to make the most of their limited opportunities to make it three wins on the bounce and move to the top of Group F with just two games remaining.

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Defensive discipline

Sanfrecce’s impressive run of recent form has been built on the back of a solid defensive base, and it has very much been a team effort with no player in the defensive unit starting all three of their wins.

In this game coach Hiroshi Jofuku opted for a back three of Hayato Araki, Hiroki Mizumoto and Yuki Nogami and, as shown by their defensive graph (below), the trio got through a mountain of work.

Between the three of them they completed 15 clearances, together with two interceptions and three tackles. It was also Araki who got forward to score the only goal of the night that sealed the win for the visitors.

Wasteful hosts

While Sanfrecce’s defence stood tall, that was also due to the wastefulness in front of goal from Daegu’s attack, which has been one of the most impressive parts of their game this campaign.

Edgar and Cesinha, who have been so prolific so far in the tournament, left their shooting boots at home as they spurned chance after chance to either take the lead, or get the home side back into the game.

Between the two Brazilian attackers they had a total of 12 shots, but only one of these efforts were on target – highlighting the trouble they had in front of goal. A further six shots were off target, while another five were blocked by the desperate Sanfrecce defence.

Not worried about possession

Some coaches like to control a game through possession, safe in the knowledge that the more they control the ball, the less opportunity exists for the opposition to score. Jofuki, it seems, isn’t one of those coaches.

Jofuku is more than happy to concede the majority of possession to the opposition, having built a system that functions best by using quick counter-attack football. This was the case on Matchday Two against Melbourne Victory, when they conceded more than 60 percent of possession, but struck on the counter twice to win 2-1.

It was the same again on Tuesday, as evidenced on the graph above, with Daegu controlling 56 percent of possession and with most of the game played in their attacking half. But with a solid defensive unit, and attackers capable of playing lightning counter-attack football, Jofuku has seemingly found the formula to success for Sanfrecce.

The Japanese team will host Guangzhou Evergrande in two weeks' time and a win would see them secure a place in the next round with a game to spare, while Daegu will aim to get back to winning ways when they welcome Melbourne to Korea Republic.

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