In their meeting at the Showa Denko Dome Oita on Saturday, both Oita Trinita and Vissel Kobe arrived into the clash having won their previous J1 League matches.

The hosts had just seen off Sanfrecce Hiroshima in a 2-1 victory in mid-week and the visitors had defeated Sagan Tosu 1-0 in the same day.

However, there would be no victor when the two sides met with one another, as two first-half goals saw Trinita and Ushi play out a 1-1 draw.

This tactical analysis will highlight key tactics of both sides in the draw between the two and use analysis to explain how those tactics had an impact on the match’s outcome.


J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics

Tomohiro Katanosaka deployed Oita Trinita in a 5-4-1 starting formation which he did not deviate from the entirety of the match. The system deployed wing-backs – Rei Matsumoto and Yuki Kagawa – and it replied upon them working the line and being quick in their transition between being in possession and out of possession. The midfield four was a flat four with two central midfielders and two wide players.

In the opposition dugout, Thorsten Fink deployed his side in a 4-1-4-1 starting formation which saw Hotaru Yamaguchi play as a single pivot and emphasis was placed on playing out from the back. In the second half, though, the starting formation was ditched in favour of an unorthodox 3-5-1-1 system.

Trinita’s generosity with space

One area which Vissel Kobe looked to punish the hosts in was through Trinita’s tendency to allow the away side too much space on the edge of the area. This was because Katanosaka’s backline seemed to have a reluctance to press higher and meet the ball carrier. This occasionally gave the away side free reign outside the Oita Trinita’s 18-yard box and resulted in the score being opened early in the match.

J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics
Vissel Kobe being given space on the edge of the box

As can be seen in this annotation from the second half, Oita Trinita’s three central defenders in their 5-4-1 formation have dropped deep into their 18-yard box and no defending player has applied pressure to the ball carrier. This has then given Yutaro Oda room to get a shot away, however, the effort flies over the bar.

This space which Ushi were given on the edge of the box resulted in the away side having eight shots from outside of the penalty area, which is a much greater figure than Oita Trinita’s two shots from outside of the box. However, Fink’s side was wasteful with these opportunities as only two shots from range were on target.

J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics
Seconds before Vissel Kobe open the scoring

This annotation is taken seconds before the away side opened the scoring against Trinita. As can be seen again, the defensive line has dropped deep into their own area and no defending player has applied pressure to the man on the edge of the 18-yard box. This allows Kyogo Furuhashi the time to let the ball drop and then strike an impressive volley beyond Shun Takagi to open the scoring.

Trinita’s floated crosses

Having gone a goal behind in the opening minute, one tactic which the home side deployed which may have got them back in the game sooner on another day was their floated crosses. Using the wing-backs in their 5-4-1 system, the wide defenders attempted to float crosses from deep in between defensive lines, which was somewhat effective.

J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics
Trinita’s floated crosses in action

These floated crosses can be seen here. The attacker nearest the crosser would run between the two central defenders – Ryuho Kikuchi and Leo Osaki – and attempt to draw both of their attention as the circled attacker has done here. This would then open up space for the secondary forward to run on to the floated cross and attempt to have an effort at goal.

J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics
Another example of Ushi’s floated crosses

Another example of this tactic from earlier in the game can be seen here. In this instance, though, it is less effective as the attacker who is closer to the crosser of the ball has not been able to draw the attention of both Kikuchi and Osaki; which has left the secondary attacker without free space.

While this tactic did not result in any goal success for the home side, it did present them with chances which perhaps on another day they would have finished. If Katanosaka persists with the tactic over the remainder of the season, it could prove to provide goal success in future.

Ushi playing out from the back

As mentioned earlier in the piece, one key feature of Vissel Kobe’s play was their attempts to play out from defence. With Yamaguchi dropping deeper in his pivot role to support playing out from the back and Osaki assuming the role of a ball-playing defender – though Kikuchi also helped – Fink tried to ensure his side maintained possession by building their attacks.

J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics
Ushi playing out from the back

As can be seen here, the two central defenders stayed close to one another to provide support while the players ahead of the defenders moved into space to provide passing options. This tactic resulted in Fink’s outfit completing a whopping 575 passes, which is far more than Trinita’s 321 completed passes.

J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics
Vissel Kobe’s passing map

As can be seen on Vissel Kobe’s passing map for the match, the strongest links are to and from the two central defenders and Yamaguchi in the pivot role. In fact, those three players comfortably completed the most individual passes on the pitch; with Kikuchi completing 67 passes, Yamaguchi completing 90 passes and Osaki completing 103 passes.

Trinita’s clever press

Due to Vissel Kobe looking to play out from the back, the home side deployed a clever press which looked to press the defenders while they were playing out from the back. This high press was performed by four attacking players and resulted in Katanosaka’s side levelling the scores midway through the first half.

J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics
Trinita’s high press

This high press from Trinita can be seen here, with Kei Chinen applying pressure directly on the goalkeeper to prevent Daiya Maekawa from playing the ball to his defenders. Three other attacking players are then stationed high up the pitch to instantly apply pressure to a defending player should they receive possession of the ball. This gives Maekawa no option but to try and play the ball long.

J1 League 2020: Oita Trinita vs Vissel Kobe – tactical analysis tactics
Seconds before Trinita level the scores

However, Trinita were anticipating Maekawa having to play the ball long because of the pressure that their four attackers had applied to the defence. Therefore, they win the ball back after it is played long and that gives Tomoki Iwata the opportunity to be played through on goal. The pass from Chinen finds its way to the defender who is high up the pitch and he slots in the equaliser.


Following the way in which the game played out, it seems likely that Tomohiro Katanosaka and Thorsten Fink will have settled for a point in the end, however, both sides did have chances to win the game.

Trinita’s crosses from deep had potential but were ultimately spurned and Ushi’s playing out from defence gave them a good level of control of the ball – they had 63% possession – however, the home side capitalised on it with their pressing.

Meanwhile, Trinita also had their own defensive woes by dropping too deep when on the edge of their 18-yard box and not closing down the attacking players quickly enough.

This tactical analysis has highlighted key tactics from Oita Trinita’s 1-1 draw with Vissel Kobe and used analysis to explain how those tactics impacted the match’s outcome.