Giant Killing 4 – A Tale of Two Number 10s

Newly-promoted Montpellier may not win Ligue 1 this season, but enough victories over larger clubs could see them in the Champions League

The 4th episode of Giant Killing takes place largely within the confines of the first half of a friendly between East Tokyo United and Tokyo Victory. In Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics, the role of the playmaker in the modern game comes into question. This becomes an important point in how Tatsumi and Victory’s Hiraizumi utilize their playmakers. Though it only plays a small role in the episode as a whole, each player seems to fit their system well.

ETU is fielding what looks like an attacking 4-4-2, with Victory playing a modern 4-3-3

The action begins with Gino trying to get into the head of his marker Mikuno. A nervy ETU lose possession early and Mochida is able to thread a ball through to their Brazilian striker Leonardo, but ETU are able to fend off the attack. Tatsumi is worried about his team being overwhelmed by someone of Mochida’s quality.

As Murakoshi takes possession later, we see that Tatsumi’s instruction to the team was to work their attacks through Gino. Murakoshi gets the ball forward to Gino, who plays a 1-2 with Akasaki. On the Victory bench, Hiraizumi isn’t that impressed with the fact that someone nicknamed Prince is the captain, and that they are playing the same way as last season.

Tatsumi keeps his instructions simple.

ETU then create the first real chance of the match. Gino continues to direct the attacks at Victory’s Croatian left-back Saric, and with Mikuno dragged out of the center, he is able to play Tsubaki in. Tsubaki skips past the challenge of Japan defender Akimori and pass it to Akasaki, whose shot then goes well off-target. The ETU fans are shocked by their team’s sudden ability to play together, while the Victory players become more interested in Tsubaki’s pace.

Tatsumi then recounts a conversation he had with Tsubaki on the last day of training camp. After intruding on Tsubaki silently showcasing his talent, Tatsumi invites him to take shots at goal from outside the box as he stood in goal. After a succession of horrible misses and weak shots rolling toward goal, Tatsumi tells him to stop. He cuts straight to the point and calls Tsubaki a coward with an inexplicably high level of potential, who crumbles under the smallest amount of pressure. Against Murakoshi in the training match, he was able to perform well because Murakoshi encouraged him, and because he was inspired by Tatsumi speaking of giant killing.

Tsubaki is a little hard on himself. That sounds familiar.

The match resumes, with Tsubaki getting fouled by a Victory player only for the referee to wave play on. The flashback resumes with a crying Tsubaki saying how much he hates being afraid and he wants to change. Tatsumi tells him to stay the same, because he has already worked so hard on it through image training, which he found out after calling Tsubaki’s former coaches. Tatsumi tells Tsubaki he has a strong resolve, but he tells him that it is okay to fail because when Tsubaki succeeds something amazing usually happens.

Gino can be absolutely clinical in front of goal given the chance.

The match resumes with Tatsumi saying it is now time to score goals. Mochida has a conversation with with Tsubaki trying to throw him off by saying that the world can be cruel to someone so young. Gino then resumes attacking down the right, and Mikuno is now worried about Tsubaki’s threat through the middle. Tsubaki starts his run through the middle and Mochida tries to stop him by kicking him a little. Tsubaki pushes through and runs by Mochida. Gino plays him in, and Mikuno is finally dragged out of position. Tsubaki plays the ball back across to Gino, who sidefoots his shot into the top corner to put ETU in front.

As Gino, Tsubaki and the ETU fans celebrate the goal, Hiraizuma calls over Saric and Mikuno and tells them they will take turns marking Gino. Hiraizuma says that Tatsumi has successfully seen through their plans by using Mikuno’s pride and giving Gino the captaincy. He still sees the goal as a fluke.

There's no shame in trying to fool a referee, or should there be?

Mochida decides to make his own tactical change. He runs with the ball in front of Tsubaki and waits for him to make a challenge. Sensing Tsubaki close by, he collapses in a heap and wins a free kick, while Tsubaki sees yellow. Two Victory players stand over the free kick and Mochida is the one who takes it. With Midorikawa stretching to try to get a hand on it, the episode ends with Tatsumi lamenting that ETU have conceded.

Tatsumi is clearly not the type of manager to get upset at conceding in a preseason friendly

Thoughts: I brought up Jonathan Wilson’s book because the contrast between Mochida and Gino was well worth noting. While this particular match seems to be more like a series of individual matchups, which suits Gino as a playmaker more in the role of a Juan Roman Riquelme1, Mochida is a more modern playmaker capable of fulfilling defensive responsibilities while creating like a Luka Modric.

The next episode looks like a typical halftime team talk and more Murakoshi wondering where exactly he fits into the team. I think the match probably ends in a draw. Does anyone agree with that assessment?

1. Riquelme was described as “an artist, almost by definition a difficult, misunderstood soul.” Basically he is wonderful to watch, but a horrible teammate who has Ewing theory going for him. And Ray Hudson loves him too.

10 thoughts on “Giant Killing 4 – A Tale of Two Number 10s”

  1. Nice comparison between Riquelme and Gino there. Both are indeed talented players but they are in a world of their own. Tsubaki kind of reminds me of Walcott; both possess immense pace, inheriting the number of legends in their respective club, yet unable to fulfill their potential as of now.

    Anyway, draw or lose, Tatsumi should have done enough to prove a point to the doubters. I’m interested to see how he continues to troll Murakoshi next week.

    1. Walcott probably would be a pretty good comparison for Tsubaki, though Walcott was already a well-established player at age 16. Riquelme was the second person I thought of. Since he is half-Italian, I considered but eventually decided against Totti (Gino doesn’t show his loyalty) and Cassano (no signs of Gino being addicted to women and food).

      This is still a non-competitive match, so there’s still some issues to work out. It’s also amazing how Murakoshi has turned from talisman to whiner who can’t deal with things when they go against him.

  2. Going to be a loss. 2-1 on a free kick, penalty, or a red card sending off.

    I wish you’d substantiate your thoughts more, since this is what I read this post for. I don’t know the players you use as comparisons and chasing the links isn’t something I’m really up to doing.

    Concepts like ‘modern playmaker’ …what does this mean?

    1. I guess I was trying to cram this in under 1000 words. Anyway, the classical playmaker lies between midfield and attack and will always look for either a defense-splitting pass or an opportunity to shoot themselves. They lie somewhere outside the tactical framework of a team. The more modern playmaker has to fulfill more roles because good teams rarely play with just one.

      So in this comparison, Gino only has to worry about creating chances for Akasaki, Tsubaki and himself. The only tactical part is his attacking down the right to create space. Mochida, on the other hand, gets involved in some of the defensive work trying to stop Tsubaki, while also controlling the tempo of the game from a deeper position on the field.

      I’ll try to clarify better in the future though.

      1. I don’t like being the guy to tell someone how to do their job, but…
        *META storm approaching*

        Alright, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a magic word count. You use as many words as you need to get your point across. If that means it takes 2000 words, oh well, people read Crusader’s dissertations all the time. Of course, the key is needed words. A lot of the time, we tend to write far more than necessary. It’s not needed, but we feel like it’s needed. It’s subjective. So I think there’s two things you can do to improve your writing.

        1) Cut down on summary. Unless the writers are cramming godawful amounts of content into an episode (ie: episode 11 of BakaTest), you can usually summarize an entire episode in 200-300 words. I know it feels like there is so much you need to write about an episode, but a lot of it is usually cursory information. Focus on highlights.

        2) Thread the summary and thoughts together. This is something my new co-writer lvlln has encouraged me to do, with the reasoning that people can just as easily watch the episode. Pick out the important event(s) and then tell us what it means to you before moving on to the next one. Now, I’m terrible with sports, but I’m decent to good with character interaction, so my thoughts focus on that. You definitely know your football, so maybe you could highlight the plays and tell us why they’re significant. Make your style your own.

        I don’t mean to be a jerk, I’m just trying to offer some constructive criticism. It’s not something you can just wake up and do overnight either. I’ve been working on my writing style since January and I’m still not satisfied with it. Take it one step at a time. You’ll find you can write better, appreciate what you write more, and will probably generate shorter posts. Hopefully that will pay off with more tangible benefits like comments. Good luck!

        Geez, I feel like this should be a stand-alone blog post…

      2. Limiting myself in word count is probably where I’ve ended up struggling in the past (and obviously now) even with 18 months of effort.

        1) I go in approaching every detail of an episode as potentially significant. Maybe that is fear of forgetting something in a summary only to have that comeback to haunt me in the comments.

        2) I guess I’ve always treated my own thoughts as secondary to the whole episode, thinking that people probably care more about the content than what I have to say on it. So they essentially exist in 2 different worlds thrown together in one post. It probably makes a horrible read to be fair.

        It seems to happen with all of my posts. I write a couple paragraphs that seem pretty good, then it feels like any sort of minimal writing talent I have just wastes away even though I’m about 20% of the way through what I want to write. Now if I took a bit more time to get written what I wanted to get written I would probably be doing quarterly blog posts. It’s probably just my writing experiences in high school/college coming back to hurt me. I always had to find extra words before.

      3. When in doubt, write what’s interesting to you personally. Substantiating it — worry about that later. An episodic post can do a number of things:

        1. be indicative of the quality of the show
        2. speculative about the outcome of the plot later on
        3. comparative to other shows/episodes and identifying references to other shows, real life and events
        4. analytical of how the craft of the show achieves its ends (how the jokes work, foreshadowing, other narrative elements)
        5. analytical of the metaphorical/allegorical framework if and when relevant

        An episodic post that’s interesting to me can do maybe two of the above, though at times I only do one. I don’t sweat it so hard, can’t be too down on yourself. Remember to have fun when you can.

      4. I guess I’ve always judged what is interesting to me as what I think other people would find interesting. I guess the fear is that I write what I think is interesting, no one reads it, and thus I’ve failed as a writer. The episode blogs have basically become so lengthy because I figure if I put enough in someone will something of interest. Since the LoGH posts only have so much longer to run, I’ve been trying to experiment with different things in trying to find some way I can continue after.

        I think I desperately have to find something fun to write about though.

      5. Ah high school. Yeah, I struggled to fill word counts as well. I still have problems in college. Just like I don’t like a maximum word count, I don’t like minimums as well.

        As far as the points go though:

        1) If someone points out something you missed, well, that’s life. We all miss things. However, they will usually not just point it out, but also tell you why they think it’s significant. That’s good for facilitating discussion. Anyone who actually gets mad at you should be summarily slapped upside the head.

        2) It’s your blog, we come to it to hear your thoughts. Like Ghostlightning says, write what makes you happy. If you enjoy what you’re writing, your passion will show in your work. People are naturally drawn to those who have enthusiasm in their speech/writing.

        I guess by way of example for the second point, I’m a panelist at anime conventions. I could run a Sora no Woto panel if I wanted. I’m qualified for it, I covered the series myself, wrote some editorials, and I read a number of posts from others on the series. I wouldn’t do it though, because I don’t have a passion for it. There are some highlights for me, but I feel an overwhelming sense of “meh” from the series, in retrospect.

        On the other hand, a Soul Eater panel would be a much better fit for me. I may not be as knowledgeable about it as SnW, but I like it so much more. It fascinates me, even the admittedly lackluster ending from the anime.

        Now either way, people will show up. The difference is whether or not they stick around. In the former example, I wouldn’t be surprised if people left early because I just cannot maintain the enthusiasm, and they may not come to panels I run in the future. In the latter example though, I imagine I can run a successful panel that command their attention, and they will come back for more.

        I’m sorry I’m writing so much on this. But did that make any sense?

      6. Your second point is definitely what I should be worrying about more. The big fear I have is being unable to find anything to be enthusiastic about. I don’t know really. Maybe this is meta dump post worthy.

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