Nike Merlin Match Ball

Nike has been known to drop some great soccer balls over the years. Their most recent match ball is no exception, the Nike Merlin for the 2019/20 season. A stellar performance double matched with elite technology and looks? I think that can’t be passed up on. Of course, partnered with the top tier products come the retail lower-end models. I’m talking about the Nike Pitch. A budget model used for training and casual play. Although it doesn’t have all the latest technology and is rather basic, how does it compare to the elite Merlin Match ball??

premier league merlin ball

First off, let’s start with prices. Given that these two balls, the Merlin and Pitch, are on opposite ends of the spectrum, their prices should be too. The Merlin retails for $150 and with good reason. The materials are premium for one. Two, the construction of the ball screams high end. Third, is the technology associated with the ball, some of which is a bit iffy. Cough cough ACC cough cough.

The Pitch, as mentioned before is a budget model ball used by most people for practices and playful kick-arounds. It retails for $25, $125 less than the Merlin. The materials and construction of the ball are cheap. There’s no extra gimmicky technology, but ACC doesn’t count as one soo. For the quality the Pitch gives you, $25 is a sound price.

pl soccer ball

Now let’s talk about the feel of the balls while striking, passing, etc. The top-end Merlin provides a padded but firm sensation on contact. First off, the Merlin’s upper has some sort of padding in its panels that dampens any contact made with the ball. It feels really good. Although there’s padding, the contact still feels very solid.

The Pitch, on the other hand, does not have padding and doesn’t feel as solid as the Merlin. The Pitch somewhat feels, bouncy. The lower budget panels don’t have extra levels to dampen the contact. It feels as if you’re just hitting the bladder of the ball, bouncy. It is only $25 though, so what more can you ask for?

premier league soccer ball

As far as technology is concerned, the Pitch has no extra tech from Nike. The panels are a cheap plasticy material stitched together in a normal fashion. This gives the ball a possible stiffer feel along the stitching. The finish on the panels feels sticky, so the grip is pretty decent.

The Merlin is fitted with Nike Aerowtrac tech, a bunch of grooves/trenches in the panels that are designed to help the ball slice through the air when shot/driven/chipped. I’m not entirely sure how much it helps, but it looks cool. The four individual panels of the Merlin are heat fused to create a seamless surface making any contact with the ball feel clean. The upper also has a somewhat sticky waxy finish doubled with micro texturing for added grip. Oh, there’s also ACC.

official epl ball

Both balls support their price points. The Merlin, although pricey, shows us what a match ball should look and feel like. Even though the Pitch isn’t the top end match ball, it’s a perfectly good training ball and for its price, there’s nothing more you could ask for. These two are opposite, yet are both quality balls. Well done Nike. Read more of our soccer ball reviews here!


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