Adidas vs Nike vs Puma
Easily the biggest grudge match in Germany this month will not be between two of the countries competing, but between homegrown Adidas and, of course, American arch-rivals Nike. The business media is already hot on the Stripes versus the Swoosh, with the German brand reportedly splashing out double Nike's estimated £60m World Cup marketing spend. But what about the shirts themselves? Which ones would you want to play in, and which should be left on the backs of the die-hards down the pub?
Out of the six countries they're dressing, including hosts Germany, and also France, the best Adidas shirt has to be Argentina's (above left). Perhaps not as recognizable as Brazil's famous bright yellow, the subtle sky-blue and white stripes belied how fearsome Argentina were from the late 1970s through the 1980s. Kept simple, although a bit too shiny for my liking, the current shirt remains true to the great players who have previously worn one.
As does Holland's shirt (above right), one of eight nations wearing Nike. While every other colour is sported by several teams, no-one but the Dutch really wear orange, and during the mid-1970s they played some of the sexiest football ever. Though they've never managed to lift the trophy, this jersey echoes the heyday of the Dutch game when their brand of Total Football, as it's known, narrowly lost the 1974 final to Germany. It has none of the unnecessary graphics that have plagued the brilliant orange kit of previous years, but again it's kept simple and low-key, complete with a nod to the 1970s in the form of the collar.
That's the big boys, but it's another German brand that's kitting out the most countries. Puma has deals with no less than 12 federations, including Italy, all of the African teams who qualified, as well as Saudi Arabia and Iran from the Middle East. The brand has taken the opposite approach to it's larger competitors, embellishing most of its shirts with designs that reflect that country's heritage. The Hawks of Togo are depicted, as is the Ivory Coast's nickname, Les Elephants. For me, Tunisia's shirt (above left) works best, showing the Eagles of Carthage merged with a sort of camouflage design.
Elsewhere, there are a handful of smaller brands providing some of the teams with their kit. Umbro's heritage as makers of England shirts is well-known. They also make Sweden's, but their best World Cup-related gear is designed by Kim Jones, which is featured elsewhere on Cool Hunting today. Italy's Lotto and Spanish new-boys Joma are also after a piece of the action, supplying the likes of Ukraine (above right) and Costa Rica respectively. If you want to be really obscure next time you take to the pitch though, an Ecuador shirt (right), made by little-known company Marathon, wins hands down.