UCL Ball

The world’s most expensive feet will touch adidas’ Finale 13: the official, signature, star-laden sphere of the 2013/2014 UEFA Champions League.

This year marks the 59th season of the tournament to determine Europe’s most elite club team. It will be the 22nd iteration of the now-named UCL.

Whereas the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball crown a so-called “World Champion,” each season, having never competed against teams from other leagues, soccer players actually decide the true medalists on the field of play.

Each season, teams compete in domestic league action with the hopes of qualifying to match their wits and braun against the very best in the continent for the next term.

There is even an official UCL match anthem sung in English, French and German: They are the best, these are the champions.

Sides from Spain, Italy, Germany, England, Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, Romania, France and Serbia have all hoisted the iconic cup. The 2013-2014 final will be played on May 24 in the Estadio da Luz (“Stadium of the Light”) in Lisbon, Portugal. The 65,000-seater is home to S.L. Benfica, which triumphed in the competition in 1961 and 1962. The red and black striped stars on the Finale mirror Benfica’s team colors.

adidas has designed the ball, known for its accuracy, softness and speed, since the 2000-01 campaign. It has traditionally been used for games once the teams have been whittled down to the Round of 16 knockout stage, and, as its name suggests, in the final.

Previous versions of the official orb have been fired home from distance by Zlatan Ibrahimović, slotted sideways acutely by Robin van Persie, curved and dipped from a stunning set-piece by Cristiano Ronaldo, chipped aloft helpless goalkeepers by Lionel Messi and bicycled, booted, volleyed, crushed and corked by dozens of the game’s top-tier players.

What will happen this year? You’ll want to watch and find out. Then, emulate the heroes or make your own magic.