The Telstar 18 joins a grand pantheon of World Cup match balls, which includes predecessors such as the Tango, the Azteca, the Questra, the infamously unstable Jabulani from South Africa 2010 and the Brazuca used in Brazil back in 2014.
The new ball has already found a prominent supporter in the guise of Lionel Messi, who offered rave reviews after testing it out during the development phase.
"I was lucky enough to get to know this ball a bit earlier and I managed to have a try with it," Messi told FIFA.com.
"I like all of it: the new design, the colours, everything."
With each FIFA World Cup players complain about the specially designed ball. In 2018, however, they’ve been mostly quiet about the Adidas Telstar 18 ball. Players haven’t erupted about the new 2018 FIFA World Cup ball. And those early complaints that this Adidas Telstar 18 might rain long-distance scores along unexpected, twisty paths like Wiffle balls have gone quiet.
Some of the 19 MLS players named to final World Cup squads got a chance to try out the ball long before they got named to the tournament. They were part of Adidas’ testers spanning every continent — over 300 professional players on more than 30 leading clubs and federations. Adidas even used an air gun to shoot the ball against a metal wall. So, after millions of dollars spent on many hours of tests, it surprised everyone that a few problems cropped up.
The ball popped twice during France’s game with Australia and again during Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia. Also, some goalkeepers came in early with criticisms of the ball’s flight as well as its thin plastic surface. Spain’s Pepe Reina predicted a lot of long-range goals and difficulties holding the ball. Neither prediction proves true early in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Adidas designed the Telstar 18 to remind players of the great 1970 World Cup. That was Adidas’ first contribution with the 1970 Telstar ball. The earlier ball had 32 panels compared to this year’s six panels.
The 1970 tournament finished with Brazil and Pele besting Italy for that championship. Using that ball for inspiration ensured players and fans would first look at the ball without suspicion or apprehension. Despite a few pops during play, that strategy worked.