Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has said goalkeepers will have to get used to the World Cup ball before the tournament starts in June rather than complain about it following criticism from Germany’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Spain’s Pepe Reina.
“I know what the boys have told me, but it’s the ball that’s going to be used and anything else is merely to stomp your feet and make a fuss,” Lopetegui, a former Barcelona and Real Madrid keeper, told a news conference on Monday.
“What we need to do is make the most of the positives, get over it and nothing else,” he added ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup warm-up match between his side and Argentina and after Spain drew 1-1 with world champions Germany in a friendly on Friday.
National teams are using the Adidas Telstar 18 for the first time during the current round of internationals and the lack of grip and excessive movement through the air has been criticised.
Napoli keeper Reina, who is likely to be in the Spain squad for the Russia finals, was apoplectic, telling Diario AS: “There’s still time to change it” before the event kicks off.
“I bet you any money that there will be at least 35 goals scored from long range, because it’s impossible to work out, not to mention it’s covered in a plastic film that makes it difficult to hold on to,” Reina added.
Local media reported that the view was shared by the other keepers in the Spain squad, David de Gea and Kepa Arrizabalaga, with the former saying simply “No” when asked if he was a fan.
Germany forward Thomas Mueller scored against Spain on Friday with a long-range strike that appeared to deceive De Gea mid-flight, while German goalkeeper Ter Stegen branded the Telstar as “complicated”.
“Even though the ball’s not always at fault, it’s true that this one is a little bit complicated. You saw it in the goal we scored. It moves a lot and could be better,” he said.
“We’ve got no other option than to get used to it, though,” Ter Stegen added in agreement with Lopetegui.
Nike deal hurts England preparations
England appear set to play only one of their three remaining World Cup warm-up matches with the tournament ball because of the Football Association’s long-term commitment to Nike, the Times reported on Tuesday.
Several participating nations, including Germany and Spain, have played friendlies with the Adidas Telstar ball that will be used at the June-July tournament in Russia.
However, Gareth Southgate’s England will use the Nike Ordem V ball in the friendly against Italy at Wembley on Tuesday as part of the FA’s contract with their American apparel and ball supplier which runs until 2030.
The Times said the Ordem V ball would also be used in England’s next warm-up fixture against Nigeria on June 2 but Nike had allowed the FA to test the Adidas ball in the final friendly against Costa Rica on June 7.
It will be the only time the team will get an opportunity to play with the World Cup ball prior to their opening group match against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.
In order to mitigate any potential disadvantage, Southgate has given his players as much exposure as possible to the Adidas ball in training.
The difference between balls often has the biggest impact on goalkeepers, who need time to adapt to its flight and bounce.
Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea has already criticised the World Cup ball following last week’s 1-1 draw against Germany, saying it was hard to grip because it was coated with protective plastic.