Kawasaki Frontale charted a blueprint for victory using the coronavirus conditions to their advantage, captain Shogo Taniguchi said.
claimed their third J1 title by crushing second-place
on Wednesday, in a 5-0 win at Todoroki Stadium. Frontale became the fastest team to win the League in its current 18 team format, with four games to spare.
The 2-1 home victory against
on July 4 after a four-month Covid-19 suspension revealed the potential to profit from the increase in substitutes allowed per game, which was aimed to protect players in a heavily condensed schedule following the break.
“As we defended a one-goal lead, I remember being put under pressure by our opponents as they brought on one attacker after another. It made me realize the possibilities with five substitutes under the special rules,”
“It would give us the ability to overwhelm opponents by attacking non-stop for 90 minutes.”
Taniguchi revealed his decisive meeting with the manager,
“After our pre-match practice, I shared my thoughts with the manager. Though it would be a different approach to the one we had been using, he seemed to have the same idea,
“We would look to attack without ever taking our foot off the pedal. It was a big change that everyone on the team bought into. Given a squad with so many talented attacking players, it made sense.”
Employing a 4-3-3 formation with a trio of forwards, Kawasaki has racked up 79 goals so far this season, by far the most in the division, while also conceding the fewest with 25, thanks to their 4-3-3 formation.
They have bagged 75 points so far, which is already a record under the current format, having surpassed the old mark of 74 set by Sanfrecce Hiroshima and later matched by Urawa Reds.
Taniguchi believes the presence of the Japan and Frontale legend,
, who is impending retirement, provided a further boost of motivation for him and the squad.
“He told me of his intention to retire (at the end of the season) in late October when we were alone. I was surprised, but he was resolute about the decision,”
“I told Kengo-san he had been my role model. He told me I will have to follow in his steps and lead by example after he has gone. (But) we still have more time left playing together. I want to see him lift the Emperor’s Cup.”
Toru Oniki has expressed a strong desire for Kawasaki to win the Asian Champions League in his fifth season at the helm next year, having established his club as the powerhouse of Japanese soccer since taking the reins in 2017.