Spain's midfielder Andres Iniesta scores

On the field, innovation comes one step at a time

Rule #13 of the English Football Association, implemented in 1863, states, “No one wearing projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta-percha on the soles of his boots is allowed to play.” Even in the earliest days of soccer, players were always seeking better grip and traction on the field. Many of them, unfortunately, proved to be a bit dangerous to other players.

Nails and iron plates have long vanished, but seeking a competitive advantage from the ground up endures. Take for instance, Andres Iniesta’s historic extra-time winner against Holland in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final.

The Spanish midfield maestro started the winning move with a cheeky backheel at the halfway line before ducking behind the Dutch defense to cushion a Cesc Fabregas through ball with his right and hit a venomous volley to secure La Furia Roja’s first triumph in the tournament.

It was all made possible by the Nike Elite Maestri CTR360. Its lightweight carbon-fiber plate meant Iniesta was still charging hard in the 116th minute. Its high-contrast Metallic Mach Purple/Total Orange colorway allowed Fabregas to see the pass. Its traction instep allowed Iniesta to receive the ball and its dampening pods in the strike zone led to the pinpoint, perfect shot.

What shoe will provide the winning edge in Brazil?

The Samba Pack, adidas’ set of shoes bound for Brazil, is set to be rolled out later this month complete with eye-catching colors to match the heartbeat of the country.

Nike and PUMA will unveil their cleats to fit the occasion soon, too.

On the field, innovation comes one step at a time, and when the captain of the winning country steps on the podium next summer to claim the crown, the world will watch and wonder; What cleat will he be wearing?