After playing good defense and finding their groove, the ETU is about to go on the attack.
What They Say
ETU vs Nagoya Grand Palace. In the first half, ETU is faced with a relentless assault, but thanks to Tsubaki's repeated smooth plays, the danger of losing a point is always averted. Fuwa slowly starts to realize that Tatsumi's plan has been set in motion. However, ETU does not launch a full assault. While Matsubara can't hide his worries about the defense-only match, Tatsumi is grinning smugly. And the thing Tsubaki sees when he gets on the field is!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The all important Nagoya match is going in a way that Tatsumi seems to want it to go, though the injury of one of his players could potentially throw it into a bit of a tailspin. The potential loss of a forward would hurt pretty badly, though there is some griping that since the team is just defending and not attacking, it wouldn't really matter in the long term. The intensity of the game as it gets back underway feels like it's ratcheted up a bit, especially with the three Brazilian players being given even more importance as Fuwa internalizes about how no team can be truly considered a professional one without some kind of non-Japanese player involved.
The first half of the game has been a lot of fun to watch as the ETU is playing relatively decent defense and we even see Tsubaki doing what he does best in being simple and accepting direction from Tatsumi. The back and forth nature of it goes a long way, though Nagoya has ball possession a whole lot more than the ETU does which is what causes concern among the reporters and the casual fans. Everything seems to be going according to Tatsumi's plan though for the first half of the match and he's sitting there looking all pleased and happy, even though it's all tied up at nothing nothing. Soccer does amuse me sometimes in that having a game like that at the half is considered surviving it and doing well.
Strategies are put in place for the second half with a bit of downtime at the half and it's fun to see the two differences. I really appreciated that the Nagoya side worked with an interpreter talking to the Brazilian while coach Fuwa talked about their strategy. On the ETU side, Kuroda has a fun little tale of personal drama to tell about his past with the Nagoya team when he was a rookie, but it's easily topped by Tatsumi's pep talk there where he basically tells them to just keep doing what they've been doing with no changes. There's definitely the view by some that he needs to give them more encouragement, but Tatsumi's style is most definitely something everyone is familiar with and they can tell that he's pretty pleased overall with how they're doing. It's an interesting approach to coaching as well as interesting to see how the relationship between the players and Tatsumi is coming along.
While I'm not a fan of individual games going on for too long as they can dominate too much of what's a relatively short series, having this match go to three episodes isn't that bad. At least in comparison to some shows where thirteen episodes are given over to one game! The match as it plays out here is pretty realistic in how it's taking time to get even a single score, the focus on defense against what may be a strong opponent and figuring out exactly what the opposing teams strengths and weaknesses really are. It's a good bit of strategy being played out in this form and I love the way it look as pretty much all angles, and not just a particular player or a single team, but rather various players and both coaches. This being a critical match gives it a bit more leeway in the amount of time it wants to spend, but I hope the next episode brings it to a winning conclusion.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.