Adidas Tricolore: World Cup 1998
Adidas Tricolore was the official match ball of the FIFA World Cup 1998 which was held in France. The Tricolore means three colors – red, blue, and white. As you might guess, the name, as well as the color of this ball, was inspired by the French Flag. As for the cockerel design, the high-speed train and the turbine, these symbols were used to depict the traditions of the host nation.
As evinced by the blue lines that were embedded on this ball, the Adidas Tricolore was a complete departure from the traditional white and black patterns. It was also the last World Cup ball which used the classic Tango design which was introduced for the first time way back in 1978.
In the construction of this ball, Adidas maintained their tradition of decorating the ball with the colors of the home nation. The blue triads of this ball – combined with the red cockerel motifs, were adopted to give it a French touch.
One thing which differentiated this ball from those of its predecessors was the place of its construction. Right from the 1970 FIFA World Cup to the 1994 edition, all the World Cup balls were manufactured in Europe. Breaking from their traditional values, Adidas decided to manufacture the Tricolore outside of Europe.
In order to alleviate the problems which had marred the popularity of its predecessor, an array of evenly arranged, densely filled, and peculiarly resistant micro-balls were used in the construction of ‘syntactic foam’ which provided an inner layer to this ball.
The presence of micro-balls in the inner layer gave this ball lower density, lower coefficient of thermal expansion and higher specific strength. As a result, the Adidas Tricolore provided brilliant shape retention and an improved energy return on rebounds, making it an ideal ball for the strikers.
FIFA World Cup 1998
Coming into this tournament, excessive pressure was exerted on the host nation France by the fans and media alike. The French had already hosted the World Cup twice in the past but were unable to win it. Therefore, for a French generation which had the likes of Barthez, Henry, Zidane, Petit and Deschamps in their ranks, everybody felt that anything but the World Cup title would be a failure
However, despite enjoying the home support and the quality of its players, one thing which gave France the underdog tag in this tournament was their history. Twice before in the history, the world cup was played on the French soil. On both those occasions, the expectations burdened down the performances of the French team.
After winning all 3 of their games in the group stages, it took Extra time for the home side to floor a highly resilient Paraguay. Next came Italy, the team which was considered, at least on paper, more tactically superior than their French counterparts.
However, after seeing off Italy at the penalty shootout 4-3, France shrugged off the underdog tag which had followed them so far in the tournament.
In the Semi Finals, they faced a formidable Croatian side which was being led by the in-form Suker. After going 1-0 down in the early stages of the 2nd half, it took a brace from Lilian Thuram to guide France to the finals.
In the Final, France faced a Brazilian team which had the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Dida. Unfazed by the stature of their opponents, France took the game by the neck as they defeated Brazil 3-0 to claim their first ever FIFA World Cup title.