Euros get Tangoed

by admin

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

One week in, and not much has been said about the football used at this summer’s European Championships. While the Jabulani ball of the 2010 World Cup caused controversy for its balloon-like unpredictability, Euro 2012’s Tango has been subtly performing to perfection in Ukraine and Poland.

Stunning strikes from Roman Pavlyuchenko, Samir Nasri, and Jakub Blaszczykowski have helped light up this summer’s tournament, and, while the stars that hit them have drawn the headlines, credit must also be given to the ball.

The problem, two years ago, was the unpredictability of Adidas’ ‘roundest ever’ football; the ball made Euro Cup tips difficult to make, and even harder to believe.

The Jabulani was too light in the thin South African air, and it was often over-hit by teams looking to quickly switch play. The frustration with the ball led to then-England coach Fabio Capello branding it “the worst ever”, with many pundits awarding the tournament that same accolade.

So, what has changed between the World Cup and now? Adidas claim not to have altered it much, but a slight tweak has made a big difference to how players interact with the Tango. There is still grip on the ball so control is easy, but there is less grip than the Jabulani, which is what made it change direction when airborne.

The different design is easier to control, and aids ball players looking for quick passes. England struggled for ball retention in South Africa, but their performance against France was patient, considered and calm – partly thanks to greater confidence in the ball.

Blaszczykowski’s wonderful strike against Russia would have ballooned wide with the Jabulani. But the Tango is efficient enough to reach a spot exactly where the player wants it, creating glorious moments that rely on precise excellence, rather than the luck of South Africa.

The ridiculous whirling free kicks often demonstrated by Christiano Ronaldo’s right boot may still occur, but the more precise Tango will see better football throughout the tournament.

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