After watching Japan open their World Cup campaign with a narrow 1-0 victory over Cameroon, it's time to see if East Tokyo United can show a similar spirit and tactical nous in their crunch game against Nagoya Grand Palace.
With play stopped briefly at the end of the last instalment due to an injury to Sera, both coaches have an opportunity to pass some impromptu instructions to their players, with Nagoya's manager picking some choice words in an attempt to motivate Itagaki. Once Sera is back on the field, play resumes pretty much as it was before - Lots of defending from ETU with constant probing attacks from their opposition. When it finally looks as though the home side has broken through, an unlikely hero comes to ETU's rescue in the form of none other than Tsubaki who deflects a goal-bound shot away for a corner, albeit rather unknowingly. It appears that Tsubaki is under specific instructions to use his pace to cover that space should anyone get goal-side of the back four, and it's a role he manages to great effect on three occasions during the period of the game we see during this episode.
Yes, I did say "period of the game", for even come the end of this episode we barely enter the start of the second half - Giant Killing is certainly intent on making the most of the various battles of character and skill going on within this particular match. Personally, I honestly don't mind, as somehow they all remain as compelling as ever, giving us glimpses into the psyche of Kuroda and Tsubaki amongst others while building up the feeling that this is a game on a knife-edge for East Tokyo United, but one that they might just be able to snatch a victory from if lucky shines on them for once.
Then again, maybe watching East Tokyo United defending doggedly like this while hoping to grab a goal from somewhere is simply making me reminisce about the days of George Graham's Arsenal, and residing in the North Bank at Highbury chanting "One-nil to the Arsenal"... They aren't days I'd wish to rediscover in terms of sheer footballing entertainment, but they were certainly never short of drama and tension, much like this current segment of Giant Killing.