Last week, we were introduced to the latest World Cup ball – the Adidas Brazuca. In a blaze of colorful glory, the new ball was introduced as having the best flight of any ever released. It is set to offer players a completely new type of performance, with a lot of time and research spent ensuring players are not left with a copy of the Jabulani 2!
A lot of people are wondering how it is different from the Jabulani, so along with this detailed review of the Brazuca, I have added plenty of notes to help you distinguish the characteristics of both balls.
Find the Adidas Brazuca at WeGotSoccer.
Recalling the Jabulani
In 2010, we were introduced to the technologically advanced Jabulani. Adidas spent a lot of time working on the ball and they transferred their attention from a primary leather material to a PU, thermally bonded seamless surface. The end result looked great, but in reality caused a lot of problems for player. Shots ended up going over the bar in high percentages and it resulted in a lot of fans finding free soccer ball in parking lots. Ok, maybe not parking lots….but anyone that tested the ball will agree that it had an extremely unpredictable flight pattern.
Did Adidas fail with the Jabulani? The answer is a simple and very honest “yes”, but their approach and thought process was in the right place. They were looking to provide a ball that increased entertainment value while giving a much more dynamic and perfected flight pattern. During the creation process for the Brazuca, the same approach was taken but Adidas looked to provide a much more enhanced ball.
[Also: Adidas Jabulani Review]
One of the most obvious things about the Brazuca is how Adidas has avoided any connection with the Jabulani. In their words, “Brazuca features the best of adidas ball technology from the Tango 12 of UEFA Euro 2012, Cafusa from the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 and the UEFA Champions League official match ball.”
Performance of the Brazuca
This is what you need to know – where the Jabulani had a huge tendency to float over crossbars and dip at the end of shots, the Brazuca seems to feature a much more efficient weight distribution and overall flight pattern. When striking shots, you feel a lot more secure about knocking the ball straight with pace without it swinging upward and there is definitely a more accurate trajectory. It definitely feels great to strike and when you connect with the sweet spot, the ball moves very, very fast.
In terms of touch, the dimpled texture offers a little extra control on the ball. But the main purpose for the dimples is related to aerodynamics. Adidas has designed the ball with this pattern to allow air to pass by the ball without producing drag. Again, this helps it move on a direct path without variance, as long as you are not looking to put extra spin on the ball. When it comes to spin, a ball with a dimpled design will spin more than a traditional smooth ball.
There has obviously been extensive research in creating the Brazuca, and Adidas end result was to use six identical panels as the surface on the ball. If you take a look at these panels, you will notice it has the most incredibly odd shape. It is a bizarre design and it is difficult to accertain if it improves the performance of the ball compared to a traditional 32 panel ball, but it certainly has the appearance of something futuristic!
This Ball Will be a Nightmare For….
Of course, this has already been one of the most common questions I have heard from players. Let me put it to you this way, it won’t be a “nightmare” for any one particular players, but I do see it posing slight problems for goalkeepers. Any ball that is designed to increase “entertainment value” is naturally going to offer challenges. This is a ball designed for striking, and striking really well, so strikers will love it, while goalkeepers will enjoy it pending they don’t fluff their lines or get bombarded by shot after shot.
Versus the Replica Ball
This is where things get interesting! I have played with several rec players using both balls, and their opinion was that the replica ball had a much more natural and “better” feel. Rather than featuring dimpled patterns, the Replica is smooth and a little heavier. In the professional game, players will drift toward the match ball simply because it suits situations where players can move it fast across a flat, uniform, natural grass surface. My point is this; don’t immediately think the official match ball is going to be a better option than the replica ball for your rec or Sunday league team. The replica is a pretty sweet ball and definitely ranks up among the top training balls released. Rather than spending a fortune on one ball ($160 to $40 is a huge jump), it might be worth considering picking up a few of the replica balls for the “not as serious” player or team!
I understand their are huge positives in using a PU material over a leather material on a ball, especially in wet conditions where a leather ball can become heavier. But, I am not a fan of the plastic sound that comes from the ball. It is not noticeable when you strike the ball, but when you bounce it on a harder surface, it offers that really annoying, cheap plastic sound that many of associate with a cheap ball. To date, that is the only negative I have to offer.
I’m very excited to see professional players take this ball into action. We will really find out more about the ball as the pros put it through it’s paces at the top level. From my experience with it, the work Adidas put into addressing issues with the Jabulani has to date been positive and I don’t expect there to be as much controversy surrounding the ball at this World Cup. There is definitely a more natural flight pattern when striking the ball over distance and it doesn’t have an ultra unpredictable nature. The visual design has received a mixed reaction from fans, but it is Adidas perception of the host nation and it must be respected for what it is.
Many will be wondering if it the best ball currently on the market. I’m not sure it is and there are other balls I feel perform better – but this is the World Cup ball and since we are going to see a lot of it between now and the end of the World Cup, I am going to embrace it!
Those interested in a ball, you can currently find them at WeGotSoccer.