Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 5th 2014 Contents A51
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Pique says reigning champion Spain is
one of several favourites to win this
year's World Cup, mentioning host
Brazil, Argentina and Germany as
other teams to beat.
"Anything can happen in a World
Cup," Pique said at a news conference
in Washington yesterday. "There are
several favourites, and it is clear we
are among that group."
Spain lost 3--0 to Brazil last year in
the finals of the Confederations Cup in
The Spaniards arrived in
Washington on Monday to train. They
face El Salvador at FedEx Field on
Saturday in their last tuneup game
before heading to Brazil. Spain plays
its Group B opener against the
Netherlands on June 13 in Salvador,
then takes on Chile and Australia.
Pique: Spain not the only World Cup favourite
BERLIN---Players were consulted extensively
in the development of the World Cup ball,
meaning they should be less likely to commit
on-pitch blunders in Brazil. German man-
ufacturer Adidas says the "Brazuca" was test-
ed by more than 600 of the world s top play-
ers, and 30 teams in ten countries over two
and a half years.
"This is by far the most tested ball we ve
ever produced," Adidas business director for
football hardware Matthias Mecking told The
Associated Press in a telephone interview on
Among the players involved in the testing
process were Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas, Bastian
Schweinsteiger, and 1998 World Cup winner
Zinedine Zidane. "For us the most important
thing is what the players tell us, what the
players want. The players will tell you they
want a reliable and fair ball. One statement
nearly all players make is, I want the ball to
do what I plan to do with it, " Mecking said.
"The feedback has been very positive."
Adidas also manufactured the 2010 World
Cup ball, named Jabulani, but it received heavy
criticism from many players before the tour-
nament. They said it was too unpredictable.
Casillas, one of the ball s most vocal critics,
then went on to win the World Cup with
Spain, and Mecking said much of the feedback
from players after the tournament in South
Africa was quite positive.
"We re still very proud of that ball. At the
time it was our most advanced ball technically
and it was our most successful World Cup
ball to date," Mecking said. When it came to
developing the Brazuca, however, Adidas used
the Euro 2012 ball, the Tango, and the popular
Champions League ball as its benchmark.
"The key new part is in the construction
of the outer layer, made of six panels---fewer
than ever before---with each panel exactly the
same shape or geometry. This means the ball
is much more accurate, much more consistent,
and should allow for fewer mistakes," Mecking
said. The star or propeller shaped panels inter-
lock perfectly, and seams all over the ball give
it added stability in the air.
"It helps with overall consistency and accu-
racy," Mecking said. The Brazuca, like its pred-
ecessors, is made of three different levels, with
a bladder made of butyl, a rubber compound,
surrounded by patch carcass made using textile
material. The outer shell is a polyurethane
(PU) material made of plastic and foam.
Around 4,000 will be provided to teams at
the World Cup for training purposes, and for
Last December, the ball was distributed to
all the countries taking part in the tournament
to give them time to train with it. The Brazuca
has also been used in Major League Soccer,
at the Under-20 World Cup, Club World Cup,
Spanish Cup, German Cup final and several
international friendlies. "We wanted to make
sure we had real-life tests and not only tests
in training," Mecking said.
The ball s design has been inspired by the
host country. Brazuca is used as a term for
Brazilians living abroad---like many of its foot-
ballers---and as slang to describe national pride
or anything Brazilian.
"We wanted to make sure the ball becomes
the icon of the tournament. It s obviously
inspired by the vibrancy, the rhythm, the
colour of Brazil," said Mecking, who denied
a researcher s claim it may have been inspired
by ninja knowledge.
"It might be an interpretation but it wasn t
planned by us," he said. Instead, the ball s
design, its ribbons in shades of blue, gold and
green, symbolise the traditional Bahia bands
or "wish bracelets" popular in Brazil. "Ahead
of a big tournament, people use those bands
to make a wish for their country to succeed,"
The ball makes its proper debut in the open-
ing game on June 12 in Sao Paulo, and will be
used through to the final on July 13 in Rio de
No excuses: Players helped
develop World Cup 'Brazuca'
aMADRID---David Villa, Spain s all-
time leading scorer, says this World
Cup will be his last event with the
The striker tells Spanish television
station Cuatro, "I don t like to say it,
but yes, obviously this will be my last
World Cup and my last games with the
selection given my age, my level of per-
formance, and everything I have given
the team. It is time."
Villa, 32, has scored 56 goals for Spain
and helped it win the 2008 European
Championship and the 2010 World Cup.
On Monday, Villa signed a three-year
contract with New York City FC,
becoming the first player to join the
expansion Major League Soccer team.
Villa helped Atletico Madrid win the
Spanish league this season. He also won
the 2011 Champions League with
Villa says WC to be his
last event with team
The December 3, 2013 file photo shows Brazilian soccer player Hernanes holding an adidas
Brazuca ball, the 2014 World Cup official soccer ball, after it was unveiled in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil. AP PHOTO
This is a July 15, 2013
file photo showing
Atletico de Madrid's
soccer player David
Villa during his
presentation at the
Stadium in Madrid.
Villa has signed a
with New York City FC,
becoming the first
player on the
League Soccer team
that starts play next
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