Having finally finished the Japanese translation of what turned out to be a three-part article on the tactical dilemmas facing Takeshi Okada’s national team – a somewhat more complicated endeavour than my usual rants about Gamba Osaka or whichever tournament could do with a bit of a revamp – I am, quite frankly, absolutely delighted that this country is now set to ground to a halt for the Golden Week holiday. Before I switch off my computer, however, I will just conclude this little series on formations with a quick look at the starting line-up that my discussions concluded might suit Japan the best during the World Cup this summer. The diagram below also appears in the article on my Japanese column published today, on the off chance that Mr. Okada might happen across it and decide to employ me as his personal advisor with a generous six-figure salary. (Wait, I mean eight-figure. Six figures wouldn’t even pay the rent if we’re talking yen.)
Conclusion: Potential Japan starting line-up at South Africa 2010 (4-3-3, or strictly speaking, 4-1-2-2-1)
Uchida Nakazawa Tulio Nagatomo
S. Nakamura Honda
In any case, should he choose to accept my advice or not, Okada has said that he will announce his squad of 23 for the South African adventure on Monday 10 May, so the next article to appear on this column will be timed to coincide with that. In the mean time, you can still catch up with the latest happenings in the J. League via the Football Japan Minutecast – available in both written and audio formats, while you can even subscribe to the weekly podcast via iTunes by clicking right here. Please do.
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Finally, since you’ve all been very good and clicked on both of the links I’ve asked you to, here’s a nice bit of Japanese tactics-related trivia for you to finish off with. Why is a volante called a volante?
The term, used to refer to a defensive midfielder, has been borrowed into Japanese from Brazil, where it first originated in the 1940s. After the W-M (3-2-2-3) system had been introduced to Flamengo by the Hungarian Dori Kürschner, his successor as manager, Flávio Costa, decided to modify the style by pushing the left-half further forward and bringing the right inside-forward a little deeper, thus effectively changing the square in the middle of the formation into a parallelogram. The right-half, therefore, become responsible for defensive duties in midfield, and the player to take on this role in Costa’s reshuffled Flamengo team of 1941 was an Argentinean bloke called Carlos Martín Volante. (See Jonathan Wilson’s excellent book, Inverting the Pyramid, for further details.)
Happy Golden Week (or, depending on where you are, May Day holiday)!