For the last two seasons, I’ve written a review of the Premier League kits for the good folks at UP Towers. Good old fashioned Top 10s. So for the tricky third album, I’ve looked to inject some freshness into the format. Like Noel Gallagher trying to write Be Here Now, I’ve shameless stolen for successful predecessors and lifted the ‘World Cup of...’ format wholesale.
Here's the way it works. I’ve played out each fixture of the World Cup based on who would win in a battle of kits. The teams are ranked based on the actual groups, with the top two advancing to the knock out stage.
To add a degree of jeopardy, the teams will wear their home kit unless there is a clash when they will be judged based on their away kit. So there is a danger that a team with a great home shirt is knocked out by a honking away number.
No fancy scoring metrics, just the gut feeling of a Wales fan far too old for all of this.
To avoid getting too granular, we pick up the action in the second round.
Netherlands v England
Here’s a question for you. Does the ‘it’ in ‘It’s Coming Home’ refer to a trophy or the concept of football itself? I was always under the impression it was the latter. Rendering all the memes /general hysteria from the past five years completely incorrect. Either way, it’s the England home kit that is coming home in the second round. Knocked out by a stylish Dutch classic. If only the Three Lions got to unleash their early 90’s inspired red kit.
RESULT: Netherlands win easily
Argentina v Australia
Both sides progressed from tough groups to find themselves in the second round, with two great shirts on display. A last minute call from officials to allow the Australians to wear their home kit and not the uninspiring away one proved crucial. The Socceroos edging this one. A classic but safe Argentina number falling foul of it’s more contemporary opponent.
RESULT: Australia sneak through
Wales v Ecuador
Here we go! I’ll be honest, the Wales kit grew on me. As it will do literally as I spend the next month watching football and drinking bitter rather than exercising. Ecuador’s solid yellow effort and much more ambitious away kit was enough to get them through the groups but their journey ends here as Gareth Bale’s men ease through.
RESULT: Cymru at a canter Denmark v Mexico
Wow, what a tie this is. Denmark’s stripped back and toned down jerseys saw them top their pool and send an au revoir to the stylish French in the process. Mexico’s home effort is an absolute gem but in a highly controversial clash against the Danes, it’s not enough beat the men in red.
Had it included the Jorge Campos inspired goalkeeper’s kitthen it may have been a different story.
RESULT: Denmark by the barest of margins
Japan v Belgium
The Belgian kit has caused quite a stir, with its flame patten on the sleeves it’s safe to say it’s divided fans. It hasn’t done a huge amount for me, but it proved solid enough to earn them a place in the knockouts. But could they compete with the Japanese origami pattern in this all-adidas clash? Not for me, and it’s goodbye to the Red Devils.
RESULT: Japan stroll through as the Belgians are unfolded
Cameroon v Ghana
This is a chance to write about some genuine sports business issues. The Lions have been involved in a legal drama with Le Coq Sportif. A court ruled in favour of the French sportswear company who claimed to have a legally binding contract to make their shirts until the end of next year. Cameroonian FA chief Samual Eto’o (who wore a classic, sleeveless number in 2002) claims this is the shirt they’ll wear at the tournament. It’s truly awful and I only put it through so we could talk about the legal drama. Turns out corruption allegations spread to this World Cup too.
RESULT: Ghana through as the Cameroonian drama ends here
Croatia v Spain
Croatia usually sport at least one classic at a World Cup. Albeit a familiar design of checkerboard red and white at home, and a blue change strip. They have the same format this time, but the checkers have an asymmetric pattern looks like it hasn’t loaded properly. Due to multiple clashes, the officials ordered them to wear their blue kit and Spain to wear their home which puts the 2010 champions through.
RESULT: Spain progress as the Croatian luck runs out
Portugal v Brazil
Some bold designs on display from Nike for both teams here. Criminally though, the designers have messed with the shade of yellow for Brazil. What should be an iconic kit looks as though it’s been through the wash with 11 pairs of ink blue Levis. Portugal’s potential uniform for a Ronaldo swansong is slightly crackers but that’s enough to get through.
Portugal beat a tired looking Brazil
Quarter Finals Netherlands v Australia
The Australian’s got lucky in the previous round to edge past Argentina. But here’s where their fortune ends. The officials demand they wear their change strip of dark blue and mint green. If that sounds dull it certainly is in comparison to the Dutch’s flaming orange that sees them heading to the semi-finals.
RESULT: Netherlands outshines the Aussies
Japan v Ghana
The Ghanaian home shirt is one of Puma’s better efforts at this World Cup. Which includes a massive black star which I’m fond of, plus an injection of colour on the sleeve trim. However, more late drama as the referee orders them to wear their ludicrous red away kit. All Puma’s away shirts feature a huge motive for the number to be housed in and to a team they all look bloody awful.
Japan march on with ease
Wales v Denmark
The prospect of a rematch with Denmark who sent us packing from the Euros is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. Fortunately, it features AEROTECH technology to counter sweats both cold and hot. However, after much deliberation, Denmark’s all-white shirt gets through. If you look closely, you can see the outline of their EURO 92 shirt, which has been faded out to create a classic capable of dislodging my partisan bias.
Denmark say ‘nos da’ to Wales.
Spain v Portugal
An all-Iberian affair for the final quarter final. Spain sporting their traditional red, whilst Portugal takes to the field in an ecru kit. The fact that it’s ecru tells you everything you need to know and its home time for the Portuguese.
Spain sail through Semi Finals
Netherlands v Japan
Nike v Adidas. The clash of the titans. Japan have stunned this tournament with their beautiful blue and white origami inspired design. Whilst the Netherlands have arguably the brightest shirt in their history. Can the flames of Holland set fire to the paper of Japan? Not this time, the Japanese head into the final.
The cool blue Japanese douse Dutch hopes.
Denmark v Spain
Spain head into the semi-final wearing a shirt that appears to resemble a jay-cloth. Now, I’m not opposed to a jay-cloth shirt, see Man United’s retro number from 2021/22 or indeed the original Rumbelow’s Cup final shirt from 1992. However, the pattern on this one is just too wavy and generic and completely misses the mark for me.
Great Danes into the final
Japan v Denmark
If you’ve read this far. Well done. Or if you skipped to this point, shame on you. Either way, the wait is over. Japan head to the field in the blue that has served them well. Denmark are asked to wear their third strip of black. And with this it’s to the serious point. Hummel released deliberately low-key shirts to make a statement against the human rights record of Qatar. Let’s face it, it’s the elephant in the room. Even in a knockabout, bit of fun article such as this, there’s no ignoring the fact that this World Cup is set against a back drop of, at best scandal and at worse human misery. It could be easy to see Denmark/Hummel’s kits as some opportunistic PR, but even so, it beats the easy option of taking Qatari state money to be a cheerleader. I’m looking at you Becks.
Denmark and Hummel take the crown
If you want to read our serious thoughts on Qatar you can do so here.
Third Place Playoff
Ged Colleypriest is the founder of Underdog Sports Marketing