Bad performance in 2018 World Cup? It’s not you, it’s the kit

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Reigning men’s World Cup champion Germany is searching for its past form as Mexico pulled of a great upset near the start of this tournament. However, the German national team is not the only one looking back.

Adidas is bringing back (or is trying to bring back) old memories with its designs, but the jersey comparisons in Russia prove “new is always better.”

Adidas used a design from the 1994 World Cup with its generic three stripes and Climachill concept while also bringing back jersey designs of the past for specific countries. But Puma’s simple jerseys with a twist and Nike’s Aeroswift concept came out on top.

In recent years the gap between Nike and Adidas has been growing in terms of market share and reputation in the sports apparel business, and this World Cup is another notch for Nike’s column on the scoreboard. Adidas only had one jersey in our best jerseys list with Japan, which is a new design with traditional roots in the country’s culture instead of its football. Nike, on the other hand, doesn’t find itself on the bottom of the shelf.

Some of these jerseys already made their debuts (and some hopefully never will) and, with the “look good, play good” principle, perhaps cost their teams dearly.

10) Japan (away kit)

Inspired by Adidas’ EQT jerseys of the 1990s, Japan’s away jersey is nothing more than a sidekick to the home jersey, which made the top three of our best jersey list. The white and light gray jersey has three large stripes, which are subtle (probably for the best). Japan upset Colombia in its first match, which marked the first World Cup win for an Asian team against a representative of Latin America, while sporting its home jersey. So, there is no reason for Japan’s Samurai Blue to call on their sidekick.

9) Mexico (home kit)

Mexico got the three stripes on the sides of the front of the jersey as the team sports its traditional green on the field. This jersey is not necessarily too bad but found itself on this list because of the better jerseys Mexico had in the previous two World Cup’s with Adidas. The team also pulled an upset in, its first match becoming the first CONCACAF side to beat Germany in the World Cup finals. That result would clash with “look good, play good” if Germany didn’t have a worse jersey.

8) Germany (home kit)

Germany’s home jersey is inspired by the one in 1990, but the three stripes are shades of gray instead of the colors of the German flag. This black-and-white design is more in line with recent jerseys, but the design honestly looks better with the flag colors. One might wonder if a better design could have been done to incorporate the logo in the middle showing that the Germans are the reigning champions. Let’s forget they don’t have a seasoned striker who football fans are used to and say the loss is due to the jersey.

7) Colombia (home kit)

Adidas just doesn’t seem to be able to decide where to put the three stripes on this year’s World Cup jerseys and it’s really hard to say which one is the right way to go. The color combination differentiates this design from others in a bad way and how the players looked on the field definitely didn’t help the shock the Colombians had in the beginning of the tournament.


6) Switzerland (home kit)

Puma mostly did a good job with plain-color jerseys with a twist but this time it’s just too much. The cultural theme with classic colors of the national team is a great idea, but in the case of Switzerland, the topography of the country’s mountainous landscape doesn’t look as good as it sounds. It definitely can be on the best and worst lists depending on one’s taste and even mood at the time. Maybe a silhouette of the Swiss Alps might have been better, just like the Denver Nuggets of the NBA had in the past — I can’t say, really. They started off good with a draw against Brazil, so perhaps this jersey is in the wrong list.


5) Russia (away kit)

Another good idea but bad execution. Russia made a great start to the World Cup that it’s hosting, capitalizing on the home advantage. However, the wins came in the home jersey, which is not really great but still better than the away one. The blue on the jersey is not captivating and the dots printed on it have a pattern with some gaps that’s hard to understand. The design upside was huge as it is very possible to put in a pattern with the dots like Mother Russia, as it is also the host nation for the organization, but Adidas fails this jersey as well.

4) Denmark (home kit)

A plain jersey would be expected to be a risk-free zone for Denmark, but Hummel decided to put a cross design on it. Why? X-Men? X factor? It just doesn’t make much sense. It would be way better if it was the flag out there. At least, the team is not doing bad for now — “look good, play good” doesn’t always work, especially when your opponent misses a penalty.

3) Iran (home kit)

This one is just a poor effort. It’s just a white T-shirt with a red collar, red sleeve cuffs and red Adidas stripes on the shoulders. It’s simply a white Adidas tee with the logo of the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran.

2) Panama (away kit)

New Balance doesn’t really have a name in the football landscape, just like Panama. The World Cup debutantes are a black box and everyone’s wondering if they can pull some upsets. Why not go crazy and wow everyone at least with the jersey if you cannot make it on the field. The home jersey is not that bad as the arrows are more subtle with red on red, but this one just doesn’t look World Cup-worthy.

1) Spain (home kit)

Another Adidas 2018 World Cup jersey inspired by a 1994 design. Adidas seems to lack in the design department. A red jersey with yellow, blue and red diamonds running down the right side. It is not good and it is one of the signs Spain is far from a successful run. Let’s not forget the team also fired its manager days before the start of the World Cup because he agreed on a deal with Real Madrid. Spain had a bad jersey in 2016 as well and got knocked out in the round of 16. Spain might need to value its jerseys more.

Luckily, the group stage in Russia had unexpected drama. The excitement started as early as the first matches, au contraire to the usual beginning of the knockout stage. This is the biggest event in football (the real football). Just enjoy it, with the jersey on or off.

Can Sariöz covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @can_sarioz