We all remember the Jabulani right? That ball that was all over the newspapers during the last World Cup? The ball that everyone said was inaccurate? Yeah, that Jabulani. We are now on the brink of the 2014 World Cup, and after the Jabulani, there is massive pressure on adidas to get the match ball right this time so it does not become one of the major talking points of the tournament again. To make sure they get it just right, it seems adidas have allowed the ball to be used in two major games this weekend. Surprising right? And adidas did it right under our noses at the U20 Finals in Turkey…
We know that it takes a long, long time to develop any piece of football equipment, and we always hear stories of how it took x amount of years to create a certain ball, boot etc. But when all the eyes of the world will be on Brazil in 12 months time (huh, I guess that means summer next year will be much more exciting than this year!), the brief for adidas is simple: make sure people talk about the football, not the ball itself. Companies thoroughly test their products to stand up to the rigours of the game, whether it be the World Cup final or the ball being kicked about in the local park. The U20 World Cup was definitely an ideal testing ground for adidas, and it appears they have cunningly disguised their next match ball as the Cafusa for both the U20 final and the 3rd place decider.
Now, we cannot say with absolute certainty that adidas have tested the Brazuca (the official name of the match ball). However, given the timing of the tournament and the fact that adidas do supply the match balls for the tournament, it can be said with a degree of confidence that we are looking at what will be the Brazuca. The ball will of course have a different external print, but looking at our images from the two matches does give us a fair idea of what is new about the ball, and it does seem that there is a bit going on…
When we compare the supposed (yes I will stress that!) Brazuca to the Cafusa, it is clear to see that adidas have changed the panel design for the ball. While the Cafusa uses 32 thermally bonded panels, it seems that the panels on the prototype are larger and broader in size. It seems there are a few big panels that are plus-sign shaped, and they spread across a much larger surface area than some of the other panels. These panels (it looks like there are 3 or 4 of them) stretch from the top and the bottom of the ball and go from side to side as well.
There are then a series of smaller panels of abstract shapes that make up the rest of the panelling on the ball. It is hard to say how many panels have actually been employed on the ball. The Jabulani used 8, and while it does seem that the Brazuca uses less panels than the Cafusa, we estimate that there are between 12-20 of these panels on the Brazuca.
While some may be left saying ‘it is just a ball’, it is good to see that adidas are genuinely trying to change things up when it comes to their match balls. They are always looking to change things up with their match balls, and while Nike may be producing a very solid match ball in the form of the Incyte, they have not really changed their top of the line ball since the Total 90 Ascente of the 2009/10 season. However, in saying that, the last photo of the referee holding a faulty ball during the final does perhaps suggest that some more tinkering may be required at adidas to perfect the match ball come the World Cup next year!
We expect the Brazuca to be officially unveiled in December this year, and it is definitely a release that we are looking forward to! Until then, you can still grab the Cafusa from SoccerPro for $135. What are your thoughts on the new Brazuca and the technology adidas have seemingly loaded into the ball?