Adidas, with the help of superstar Lionel Messi, unveiled the ball that will be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia on Thursday. Without further ado, here is the Telstar 18:
An interesting looking ball, it has the same feel as some of thosewith the diamond-like shape and faded coloring. I’m all for a ball being mostly black and white, so this one gets a good grade in my book. But where does it rank among the best?
You can throw those vintage balls that are either stitched, brown or a completely different color out of the picture. Most of us weren’t even alive to see those used, but they are special.
The 2014 ball, Brazuca, was too colorful for me, and honestly, the ball for the upcoming World Cup is the first I’ve liked since France ’98. The ’74 and ’70 balls (second row from the top, last two on the right) are iconic, but they aren’t a whole lot different from the ’78, ’82, ’86, ’90 and ’94 balls. The drastic change began with that blue ball in France ’98. Here’s how they rank from ’98 and the following 20 years.
1. Tricolore: 1998 World Cup in France
This one was similar to the balls used in previous World Cups but with an iconic blue trimming to pay homage to France. It was similar, yet a tad different all at once and made it special. The Tricolore was a beauty.
2. Telstar18: 2018 World Cup in Russia
Considering how the most recent ones have looked, it is miles ahead and one of the best looking World Cup balls in quite a long time.
3. Brazuca: 2014 World Cup in Brazil
We’ve reached the point where we aren’t ranking them on based on greatness aesthetically — more like ranking them from less ugly to horrifically grotesque. This one was acceptable, but it was too busy and makes me dizzy looking at it.
4. Jabulani: 2010 World Cup in South Africa
Too much white overall with those weird triangular that look like a futuristic stadium. Just plain ugly, and it had its fair share of complaints. As The New York Times points out, the ball was considered too light and curvy, making balls carry further on crosses. France’s Hugo Lloris, according to The Times, called it “a disaster,” while Uruguay”s Fernando Muslera said it’s the worst ball he’s ever played with.
5. Teamgeist: 2006 World Cup in Germany
Teamgeist was so plain and boring. If taking a 24-hour cross-country road trip through the middle of nowhere could be described in a sporting product, it’s this ball. It’s almost as if those designing it said, “the hell with it … let’s just go with this … the bar is closing soon.”
The worst of the worst — Fevernova: 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan
This ball looks like it was designed by a second-grader who asked to draw the ugliest thing they’ve ever seen. Those colors in the middle make no sense, and neither does the weird design.
There you have it. If you don’t agree, please see an optometrist.