The SoccerBible Play Test returns with a new format for 2012, revamped and with video footage to show the boots in action. We're giving you the fans a better look at how the latest football gear performs, with a series of drills putting the boots through their paces in all areas of performance...
At SoccerBible we like to get boot fans as close to the latest football boots as possible, and we've got a series lined up over the coming weeks and months for our new look SoccerBible Play Tests. So let's kick-off with a boot that's out to rival the adidas F50, Nike Mercurial and Puma King SL...it's the Mizuno Morelia Neo.
We've put the lightest leather boots on the market through a series of tests to determine how the boots perform in ten key areas; Speed, Dribbling, Traction, Control, Touch, Accuracy, Shooting, Passing, Looks and Comfort.
Out of the box and in hand the Morelia Neo is what you'd expect from Mizuno, with incredibly soft padded leather around the toe area, but to help reduce the weight of the boot it's quite stripped back and thin around the midfoot and heel area.
With the boots on your feet and toes wiggled the Neo feels really comfortable, there is no tightness across the fore of the foot and toe area, however the heel is quite narrow due to the external heel counter. The lightness of the Morelia Neo is something you immediately become aware of, and is quite unbelievable when you consider this is a leather boot.
Our 'Slalom' course enables us to test the boots on a number of areas including acceleration, traction, comfort, ball touch and dribbling. The Neo is very responsive in terms of grip and acceleration with it's no fuss conical studs, but the constant change of direction and forces exerted make you aware that there will be a slight breaking-in period due to a tightness and aching across the midfoot.
But don't let this breaking-in period detract from a boot that offers excellent ball touch when dribbling, as the leather upper is soft, it's really soft, and your toes and feet feel like they have complete freedom. The soft leather really adapts to your feet and gives you a constant feel for the ball as you move it. If we did have a complaint, it would be in the shaping of the toe area which is quite rounded and so doesn't follow the shape of your foot, meaning there might be excessive boot and material extending beyond some of your toes.
When it comes to ball control and passing, the Morelia Neo upholds Mizuno tradition and delivers elite performance. The soft upper constantly makes you feel like a pass-master who is in complete control of the ball as you deliver it to it's targets. There is a distinctive transition on the upper though, as you are aware there is the lacing area and then it feels like the toe area extends beyond this, but we think is caused by the penultimate lacing islets being spaced further apart.
As we move onto striking the ball for both shooting and hitting long balls, there is obviously no additional technology nor is it expected because this is a leather speed boot. But really, as there isn't much of anything (the tongue has no padding) then constant striking does start to become painful, as say it would to strike a ball barefoot. Additional padding would take some of the sting out of hitting the ball, but in the reality of a game this isn't such an issue because you don't hit forceful strikes that regular over 90 minutes.
As the various tests were being conducted, the boots were constantly on our play testers feet for what was a minimum of one hour. What was becoming apparent was that Mizuno might have stripped the boots out too much, as the insole is very thin and you get no padding around the mid to heel of the boot so comfort was becoming an issue. But then you know what you are signing up for with the Morelia Neo, it is a stripped out leather boot with a speed outsole for lightweight performance.
What the Mizuno Morelia Neo football boots deliver is expected. They have that classic Mizuno boot look, but on your feet they are unbelievably light. The leather is extremely soft for great ball touch and feel, and the strong outsole has a reliable stud configuration. If we're to be critical, we'd say there is a breaking in period and the heel area is quite narrow, whilst over 90 minutes comfort may become an issue.
But overall, the Morelia Neo really is a great boot, adidas might need to be careful and not concentrate too much on their miCoach technology, because Mizuno might just have released one of the best ever lightweight leather speed boots.