Who says that the football you play with is not important? The Jabulani at the World Cup in South Africa shows that the football may be extremely detrimental to the quality of football, so adidas knew it had a lot of pressure to produce the goods after the debacle of the Jabulani. Two years of research and countless hours of testing with professionals and amateurs in different playing conditions has concluded with the release of the Tango 12 match ball. We have put the Tango 12 matchball review through countless hours of testing and we are ready to find out whether it is worth the $150 price tag.
There is something irresistibly simple about the design of the Tango 12 match ball that I have fallen in love with. The design of the ball is a testament to the original Tango match balls of the early 80s, while the pattern within each black section depicts the ancient art of paper cutting that is native to the rural areas of Poland and Ukraine. Not only that, the flags of the two host nations border the paper cutting graphics. While Nike’s Seitiro and Maxim feature flashy, modern designs, the simplistic and effortless design of the Tango is something I really appreciate.
The design of a football is crucial, a plain white football without any detailing would be very hard to judge as it flies through the air for both the out field players and the keeper. The black patterns on the Tango are clear and distinctive, making it easy to judge the ball as it goes through the air. It is not something that adidas have touched on during their advertising campaign, but you will not have any issues with the design of the ball making it too hard to judge the flight of the ball. There is also a fluorescent hi-vis colourway also available, so if you play in snowy or foggy conditions, it may be a good idea to pick up the alternative colourway.
If you have not touched the Tango 12 match ball yet, something that you will find is that the outer layer of the ball is very hard. It came across to me as quite a surprise, but the ball is very hard in your hands. Something I noted in the ‘Just Arrived’ post of the ball is that adidas have recommended a psi level of 11.2-14.5. I can honestly say that, even at 11.2, the recommended psi levels is way too high.
While I normally prefer to pump my footballs up to 10 psi, I use the Tango at around 9 psi. When I took the ball out for the first time, I pumped it up to 11.2. It felt very hard in my hands, but I started playing around with it anyway. While it did make the ball beautiful to drive, controlling it as 11.2 psi was near impossible. The ball would just cannon off your foot when you tried to stop it to the point where it would nearly hurt your foot (just ask the guy who I play with who wears the synthetic miCoach adiZeros). Even though the ball did start to soften as you used it through the first 20 minutes, I still needed to deflate it to around 9-9.5 psi until I was able to find a happy medium with the ball.
The flight of the ball was probably adidas’ main priority when going about creating the Tango 12 match ball. While the ball does offer a very true flight and does not move through the air like the Jabulani was at South Africa, the ball does travel a good 5-10 yards further than you would expect it to. While the ball was stable in it’s flight, it was still hard to place the perfect pass, whether it be in the air or along the ground, as I found I was constantly over hitting shots and passes with the ball. It is down to the hard outer layer of the ball that I mentioned earlier, as the ball rebounds off your foot a little ‘too well’. It seemed the professionals at Euro 2012 also had this issue, as I saw many a shot over the crossbar and over hit passes during the tournament. It is something adidas will need to fix in time for their next major release.
When looking at how the ball feels when you strike it, I have looked at in 5 different ways. I will take a look at how the ball goes when you pass it, drive it, curve it and when you try to knuckle it. The hard outer layer means that passing and driving the ball feels fantastic. Whether it is a cross field pass or a low shot, putting your laces through the ball feels fantastic and the ball absolutely flies off your foot. But as I mentioned in the flight section, the ball does tend to travel about 5-10 yards further than you would expect it to, plus it is very easy to put too much power into a shot. This characteristic of the ball carries on to when you are finishing with it as well. If you do connect well with it, the ball absolutely flies (look at Ibrahimovic’s volley against France). It will take a bit of getting used to, but I have found that I do need to use the Tango differently to the other footballs that I carry with me.
Something that surprised me while using the Tango 12 match ball is that it is actually pretty good to curve with. While my previous experience with the Puma PowerCat 2.10 match ball, a ball that I found to have a hard outer layer, meant that it was a difficult ball to curve or play finese balls with, the Tango actually was pretty good to curve with. While the ball may feel hard in your hands, once you start kicking with it, the hard outer surface actually gives way quite nicely. While I did experience issues with the ball rebounding off my feet when I tried to control it, if you are working in a dead ball situation, you can have some fun with this ball when you try and curve it. Not only was it good when I tried to do curved free kicks with it, I also found it an enjoyable ball to work with if I wanted to do crosses, just keep in mind what I said about the ball easily being a bit over hit.
I’ve been using the ball for the past 4 weeks, and it has gone through about 30 hours (probably more) of use. The ball has held up very well throughout the review period. There is hardly a mark on it, plus the print shows absolutely no signs of potentially peeling off. When you pick up the ball, you appreciate the real effort and workmanship that has gone into the football, and it is something I certainly felt from the ball. It is a product that has been solidly built that should last a long time.
I am not saying this to plug the football, but I am a big believer in purchasing more expensive match balls (like the Tango) over the $20 footballs you can pick up. Just to give an example, I have an adidas UCL football from the 2005-2006 season that I have owned since December 2005. I know it was about 7 times more expensive than the other footballs I could have chosen, but I have used this ball pretty much every weekend for nearly the past 7 years and I am still using it to this day. Meanwhile, I have gone through about 10 of the cheaper $20 footballs during this time. If the Tango can be used for as long the UCL ball has lasted, then you are buying a product that is very durable.
I am left with a few good things to say and a few bad things to say about the ball. The hard outer layer of the ball proved to be annoying. It does make passes and cannons off your foot, but the same applies for when you try and control the ball. Once you get it to a psi level that you are happy with (I recommend 9 psi), then you can sort of come to a happy medium. The thing I love most about the ball is that if you really connect with the ball on a kick, whether it be a driven free kick or a volley, the ball absolutely flies. It can still do the delicate things as well, curving with the ball was surprisingly easy, but knuckling with it is a challenge. There will be one or two kicks that you will over hit due to the strong rebound properties of the ball.
But is it ultimately worth paying $150 for? I’m still not too sure. Based on performance alone, I would tend to say no. You should not have a football that can cause the issues I have raised above after paying so much for it. But if the ball can last as long as my UCL ball has lasted, then you are looking at a very good investment, and then I would say it is worth paying $150 for the ball. I can confidently say though that this is a better ball than the Jabulani, and for that adidas has to be commended. But it is not the best ball on the market. If Nike’s Maxim (which we will be receiving soon) is similar to the Seitiro, then Nike can go around saying it produces ‘the world’s best ball’.