Gear

Adidas Copa Mundial Review — Are They Really As Good as Everyone Says?

Do the cult-loved football boots of yesteryear hold up today?

Much like a vintage car, anyone who owns one will tell you that it’s the best thing in the world. True, they look and feel great, and the classic euphoria of them is something that can’t be replicated; but, there’s no denying that with that nostalgic novelty, comes some drawbacks. The same can be said for Adidas’ Copa Mundial — the iconic football boot first introduced in the 1970s, which has seen little-to-no changes in four decades, but somehow is still considered one of the best buys in the boot-market, often being called the ‘Rolls Royce of boots’. However, much like its analogic namesake, it’s clear that with the luxurious prestige, there’s a cost involved.

There’s no denying that the Copa Mundial carries an immediately recognisable and iconic look. The flamboyant white tongue, black leather upper, white soleplate, and trademark three stripes round off an elegant and distinct look that many boots today have failed to establish. Still being made in Germany (whereas many brands have outsourced to cheaper manufacturers in various countries), the Copa Mundial is beautifully designed, and furthermore, it’s hard to fault it for its exceptional build quality.

The upper is a fully leather construction featuring a stitched-on tongue, all being made of notably soft kangaroo leather. The result is a plush and soft feel that’s immediately comfortable to the foot and leaves no break-in time, so you can get playing and not worry about any abrasive rubbing or chafing. Straight out of the box, the Copa Mundial feels sublime.

This simple, plush upper is stitched to an admittedly basic but suitable soleplate. Unlike modern boots, there’s no futuristic split-sole construction here — this soleplate is firm, hard, and weighty, which is a bit of a blessing and a curse. Due to its rigidity and thickness, it’s comfortable, because you get barely any stud pressure through the plate, however, it’s also heavy and a little cumbersome.

Weighing in at around 320 grams, the Copa Mundial is notably heavier than just about any other boot you’ll find on the market today. When talking about 100-odd gram differences, it might seem like a negligible thing, but after running around in these for 80 or 90 minutes, you’ll notice the difference. For example, Nike’s Tiempo Legend 8 (an all-leather competitor to the Copa Mundial and genuine alternative) weighs in at 214 grams.

The soleplate is a big contributor to the weight of the boot, but in all fairness, it does perform well. The firmness makes you feel stable in the midfoot area, and the all conical stud pattern allows you to pivot and turn with ease, making these much ‘safer’ boots than some other options with more aggressive stud shapes. There is an ‘extra’ stud on the medial side of the forefoot in comparison to most boots out there with similar layouts, and they are a little shorter too, but it’s not anything you’ll notice in practice.

Using the boots on firm, natural grass, they perform excellently. The Copas are comfortable, there’s just enough traction to give you the bite you need, and the firmer soleplate makes you feel in control when planting your foot. However, due to the softness of the leather, there is a ‘sloppy’ sensation to the boots. You see, the leather is a bit of a paradox because while it’s incredibly soft, it also is quite malleable to your foot. Hard angle changes, cutting, and quick push-offs will make your foot feel like it’s moving over the edges of the soleplate a bit. It’s obviously incredible subtle and we’re talking millimetres here, but it is noticeable after wearing boots with the firm, cage-like synthetic uppers of today, keeping your foot in place no matter what. If you’re OK with (or even prefer) a bit more of a ‘loosey-goosey’ feel, then the Copas will do the trick.

Another frustrating element to the Copa Mundials is the flatness of the boots themselves. The soleplate is essentially a pancake, and while there is an internal heel counter, there’s no heel-raise at all. Being more control and agility orientated boots, your foot sits very flat in them in the default position. Gone is that sensation of aggression and exploding forward with the raised heels of most modern boots, and this also leaves a little bit of additional strain on your Achilles area due to the foot position. It’s a very unusual sensation to get used to, and having some subtle elevation in the heel area would do wonders for the Copas. It’s also an indictment on the fact that humans are overly reliant on shoes with heel supports too, but that’s another story for another day.

While I found the Copa Mundials to perform well on damp grass, the problem with them is that these are not made for the wet, because: leather. Under no circumstances should you ever get leather wet, and the Copas fall within this category. Not only will it hurt the integrity of the leather, but it’ll also cause your boots to stretch, and once they’ve stretched, there’s no tightening them up.

So, are the Copa Mundials the best boots in the world (as everyone likes to state)? Short answer: no. Much like the car analogy in the beginning, they’re for some people and not for others. Those who wear them tend to avoid any type of new body-aiding boot technology out there, further reiterating to themselves “how good the Copas are”, and that ignorant bliss must be nice. But for those who know what modern boots bring to the game, it’s difficult to revert back to the classics of yesteryear; furthermore, the price-tag puts them in contention with just about anything else on the market. Thankfully, they are comfy as hell and look good too; so having them as a second pair in the cupboard is not a bad option, just having them as your ‘go-to’ pair will leave a lot to be desired.

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