At last, the long J-League break is over and J1 fans can get back to the focus of their attention after the distraction of the World Cup. Omiya Ardija begin on Wednesday evening with an interesting match at home to Jubilo Iwata, who have a brand new coach in the shape of 38-year-old Brazilian Adilson, following the resignation of Masakuni Yamamoto.
But while Jubilo have undergone a change at the helm, there have been no such profound alterations to the set-up in the orange half of Saitama: no new coach and, worryingly, no new players. Indeed, with the departure on loan of Naoya Saeki to Avispa Fukuoka, the squad is actually weaker than that which struggled to twelfth in the table over the first dozen matches - a far cry from the top six or seven spot that was being talked about as a realistic target pre-season.
In all probability, therefore, the difficulty will still be scoring goals and fans will be hoping that the Gral / Kota Yoshihara partnership is given some opportunity to bear fruit, especially given the rumours that the on-loan Brazilian's contract is to be extended to the end of the season. Much still rests, especially in the enforced absence of Chikara Fujimoto, on the shoulders of talismanic young midfielder Daigo Kobayashi, but the extent to which this one individual is able to carry the attacking options of a whole team must surely be limited. The fact remains, therefore, that Omiya need above all to seek alternative routes to goal. A new-look Jubilo Iwata will have to be the place to start finding it.