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Goalkeepers Unhappy But Strikers Have A Ball with Europass

The ball developed for the Euro 2008 divides opinions of players and goalkeepers as the tournament in Austria and Switzerland kicks.

The ball for the Euro 2008 Europass

Europass: "A tricky customer"

While players hope the light high-tech ball will prove a goal bonanza, goalkeepers from several of the 16 participating teams find exactly those properties of the silver-grey Adidas ball extremely worrying.

"Basically no one is 100 percent satisfied with this ball," Andreas Koepke, Germany's goalkeeper-coach told reporters at the German base camp in Tenero, Switzerland, on Saturday, June 7.

Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had repeatedly complained that it was difficult to catch and had a tendency to swirl.

Co-host Austria's goalkeeper Alexander Manninger and Czech goalie Petr Cech also expressed their dissatisfaction with the fast ball which is likely to make a goalkeeper's life very difficult during the three-week tournament.

"This ball is not the keeper's friend," Manninger said.

Players however may see things a little different.

Outfield stars eager to get to grips with Europass

Germany's Torsten Frings, Michael Ballack, Miroslav Klose and Thomas Hitzlsperger, from left, defend a freekick

"Look out lads, that thing could go anywhere"

"For players, the ball is great," Germany midfielder Thorsten Frings said. "There will be many more goals from a greater distance. If you hit it right, it really goes off."

Yes, for keepers the ball presented a difficulty, Frings admitted, but "we'll get this sorted," he said optimistically.

One thing field players and goalkeepers seem to agree on: The Europass may change the way the game is played at this tournament.

"You have to be more awake with this ball," Koepke said.

The defense, for one, had to be more on the ball -- so to speak.

As keepers were more likely to avoid the risk of catching this ball and will rather block it, defenders will have to be fully alert in those potentially risky situations and try to get the ball before the other team's forwards, he explained.

At the same time, the forwards would of course try and get in their second chance.

Germany's goalies ready to face "tricky customer"

German coach Joachim Loew, left, listens to goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, during a training session

"One minute it was there, coach, the next it wasn't"

Using the Europass brought some changes for training Germany's goalkeepers, Koepke said. Field players were included in goalkeeper training routines to help the keepers adjust to the ball's properties.

"It is pointless to lament this," Koepke said, adding that his team had tried to make the best of it. "(But) I don't think we will get more goals because the ball swirls," Koepke said.

Adidas, which worked two years on the development of the ball, did not see such problems. "The ball's new surface structure allows players to control and direct it perfectly in all weather conditions," the company said at the ball's presentation.

Its new surface texture on the outer skin guaranteed "optimum grip between ball and boot," as well as better grip between glove and ball for goalkeepers.

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