Whenever a new season kicks off there's always that one boot that appears to be dominating pitches all over Europe, the boot that is being worn in every game, in every position and this season it has to be the Nike CTR360 Maestri III. It's time to head to the SoccerBible Play Test ground to see what all the fuss is about...
The third generation CTR has been updated with a couple of new innovations and expectations are high after two very popular predecessors. Built for the player looking to dictate the tempo of game the CTR360 Maestri III can be seen on the feet of Andres Iniesta, Sami Khedira and Sergio Busquets.
When you take the new Nike CTR360 Maestri III out the box for the first time you're hit with a powerful looking colourway. A black and yellow boot always has a strong on pitch presence and the Maestri III is no different. Any worries that the yellow might be a little too vibrant are dismissed by the black backdrop giving the boot a more subtle appearance and the black details on the 3D control pad and Swoosh present an element of class.
We've all been there, you line up for kick-off on a Saturday afternoon and there's that one smug looking player wearing a bright pair of boots who you immediately decide is going to feel the full force of your first tackle. But with the new CTR that feeling doesn't seem to arise; you can't help but admire the colourway and appreciate the splash of yellow coming across as classy rather than looking like it's designed to stand out and look flash. Still not sure you can pull off the yellow? Then the more low key Red/Black colourway is probably more up your street.
That's enough about the visuals, time to stick a pair on and see what they've got to offer. First things first, the Nike CTR360 Maestri III provides a true fit and unbelievable comfort. The boot fits perfectly with the whole foot feeling harnessed and secure. There is no slip inside the boot and the foot feels compact and supported without feeling like the boot is too tight.
Some football boots feel like you're putting your foot into an empty shell, you can instantly feel gaps between your foot and the boot and no matter how tight you tie your laces you still feel that your foot isn't secure. The CTR360 Maestri III is the complete opposite; once on, it feels like someone has moulded a boot around your foot, the upper caresses the top and sides of your feet and the heel and Achilles feel protected.
The first challenge we put the Nike CTR360 Maestri III through was the slalom – winding in and out of the poles and cones before dribbling the ball back to the start line. For all the control enhancing technology incorporated on the new CTR the boot is surprisingly light.
When dribbling through the slalom course it feels like your foot is gently pushing the ball along and you feel in control at all times. The boot is designed to increase friction and this ever so slightly aids your touch and control when dribbling. The Maestri III uses All Conditions Control (ACC) technology, which is an upper material and surface texture that provides the same level of control in dry or wet conditions. For the leather boot traditionalists that are sceptical to wear a synthetic boot, the new CTR makes that transition a whole lot easier.
The training pitch presented us with the perfect firm ground surface and the Nike CTR360 Maestri III raised no real points for concern, the traction is stable when manoeuvring at speed but doesn't score as high marks as the Vapor VIII which offers a more secure grip to your standing foot when shooting. However the Maestri III's traction has improved from the previous model with a rounded stud configuration which feels less likely to slip on a wetter surface.
Onto the passing exercise and this is where the Nike CTR360 Maestri III excels. Receiving the ball feels effortless, the comfort of the boot combined with the new and improved 3D control pad delivers exceptional first touch and fills you with confidence to receive the ball at any height or speed.
Time to smash some balls at goal, obviously getting a good connection when shooting is essential as a forward but your first touch is equally important to ensure you create a scoring opportunity. The Nike CTR360 Maestri III offers immense control and gives you those precious extra few milliseconds needed to compose yourself and pick your target.
Striking the ball repetitively with your laces is comfortable with no soreness or strain on the foot. You can really put your foot through the ball without experiencing any pain or obstructions. The asymmetrical lacing system enables a larger area to strike the ball with the side of your foot increasing accuracy. The CTR marks an impressive score in the shooting test considering Nike's premium accuracy boot is the T90 Laser.
The Nike CTR360 Maestri III football boots live up to being dubbed as the ultimate playmaker's boot. They deliver exceptional control and we can honestly say this is one of the most comfortable football boots we've ever worn. Nike have once again delivered and we feel this is a boot that can be worn by players in any position.