Football

Keepers told to get used to World Cup ball

Spain coach Lopetegui asks them to stop complaining and get over it

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 goalkeeper, 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 this morning's (Singapore time) World Cup warm-up match between his side and Argentina.

Spain had drawn 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 goalkeeper 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."

Local media reported that the view was shared by the other custodians 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.

German custodian 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," he said.

"You saw it in the goal we scored. It moves a lot and could be better."

"We've got no other option than to get used to it, though," ter Stegen added in agreement with Lopetegui.

Meanwhile, 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 yesterday.

England used the Nike Ordem V ball in the friendly against Italy at Wembley this morning 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 before their opening group match against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.

Panama and Belgium are England's other Group G opponents in Russia.

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. - REUTERS

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