Creating the ideal match ball is no easy task, especially when that ball is the object used to determine the best football nation on the planet at the World Cup.
Nevertheless, Adidas gave it a try, unveiling the "Brazuca" on Tuesday night in Rio de Janeiro.
The official match ball of World Cup 2014, the Brazuca is seen as a significant upgrade over the "Jabulani" ball used in South Africa in 2010, which would often change direction in midair. Adidas' latest design will be lightweight like the Jabulani but feature more seams, which is expected to make for a more predictable trajectory, according to Adidas' director of innovation Antonio Zea via NBC News' Ben Popken:
Let's make the ball go where they know they can put it. With the one panel shape we have a nice interlocking design that made it symmetrical and gave it balance. We're able to optimize seam geometry to give it accuracy in aerodynamics and a stable flight.
According to USA Today's Nate Scott, Adidas has received "overwhelmingly positive" feedback from the hundreds of players with whom they've consulted about the ball.
The ball features six panels that resemble "a series of interconnected boomerangs," according to Scott. As a result, the Brazuca should still scream through the air like match balls of the past. But the hope is that the additional seams will eliminate the knuckleball factor and make life easier for goalkeepers, who obviously despised the Jabulani for that exact reason:
Last Adidas World Cup ball Jabulani was criticized for knuckling, veering, players said it was like a "supermarket" ball— Ben Popken (@bpopken) December 5, 2013
The thermally bonded surface is also said to improve touch and minimize water absorption, keeping the Brazuca light even in wet conditions.
However, if the ball does fall short of expectations, it's sure to hear about it on Twitter. That's right, the Brazuca even has its own official Twitter account:
Will the Brazuca live up to expectations in Brazil?
Other than the aforementioned performance upgrades, the Brazuca features a colorful exterior pattern that fans have come to expect for a global event. Both the Adidas and FIFA World Cup 2014 logos can be seen on the outside of the ball as well.
The official Brazuca match ball, which will be rolled out onto the pitch in Brazil next summer, retails for $160. But replica versions of the ball can be purchased for as little as $30, according to Adidas' official website.
It remains to be seen whether Adidas was successful in creating the optimal World Cup match ball. But one thing's for sure: With so much at stake, expectations are sky high for the Brazuca.
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