FIFA World Cup

World Cup predictions: Best kit edition

Image courtesy of FIFA

The most entertaining World Cup in any of our lifetimes is down to its Fascinating Final 8: no Germany, no Spain, no Argentina, no Portugal (not to mention no U.S.A., no Italy, no Chile, and no Holland). Because there have been so many unpredictable outcomes in the matches thus far, it’s difficult for any pundit, fan, or observer to predict the winner of any match, let alone the entire competition.

Fear not, soccer fans: Philly Soccer Page is here. Though not originally conceived as an athleisure fashion destination, in just the last eight months this site has given readers “The 12 Days of Union Kits-mas,” a post dedicated to the history of Union kits, as well as “Offseason grades: New kit edition,” a piece focused on the complete lack of creativity in this season’s Major League Soccer kits.

Now, PSP brings you a guide for predicting the outcome of this great and quickly ending tournament, based solely on the merits of each remaining team’s kit.

(For those interested in a truly well done retrospective on national team kit history, The Guardian has you covered. This is from the 2014 cup, however, so doesn’t include current strips or Sweden and Russia, who failed to qualify that cycle.)

The Winner’s Bracket

Uruguay, France, and Brazil have all won World Cups. Belgium might have the best shot of any team left who hasn’t won one to get their first. Fate has them all on the same side of the draw, hence the title, “The Winner’s Bracket.”

Uruguay’s kit is the definition of a classic. Relatively unchanged for more than 100 years, “La Celeste” are aptly named (sky blue) and clear as day in any match. Unfortunately, theirs is a simple kit and in a group with so much history and style, Suarez, Cavani, and Co. finish a respectable 4th.

https://twitter.com/FIFAWorldCup/status/1013286577034973184

“Les Bleus” of France have their own all-time kit, one that matches the stripes of their flag (extra points for what should be, but is often not, an obvious integration). This cycle brings Nike’s off-color shoulder pads, a subtle but real negative to the overall look, which has this otherwise entertaining side finishing 3rd.

https://twitter.com/FIFAWorldCup/status/1013812555876327424

Brazil has toyed with white shirts (worn in their first 4 tournament appearances) and light instead of dark blue shorts (as recently as the 1974 Cup in West Germany). Meanwhile, they’ve also been toying with their opponents en route to the most titles of any country. Should one turn on the TV and see the distinctive “canarinha (little canary),” and any fan in the world would know what to expect next: Joga bonito, of course.

Belgium haven’t won a World Cup, the semifinal in Mexico in 1986 being the closest they’ve come to silverware. In terms of style, all red is a tough look to pull off. Their strip in the 1930 tournament was vintage (literally and figuratively, at this point), with a lace up neckline and a brilliant and over-sized griffon on their crest. In 1982, the Red Devils added vertical yellow stripes… also tough to pull off, and in this case a terrible decision. In 2018, though, they pull off a surprise victory in the Winner’s Bracket because of one beautiful and underutilized detail: argyle.

The Challenger’s Bracket

Russia and Croatia have never progressed further than the semifinals. Sweden have themselves a 2nd place medal from when they hosted the cup in 1958. England hosted and won in 1966, and until now have gone out on penalties in seemingly every other competition since (prior to Tuesday, should you have asked an Englishman which of those two facts was more profound in his or her life, you may have been surprised by the answer). Thus, “The Challenger’s Bracket.”

Last place in the Challenger’s Bracket goes to the surprising hosts, Russia. Say what you will about the skill of their group stage opponents, or the fortunate draw that found them in said group in the first place. The “Sbornaya” did their part and then some, topping the Spaniards of all teams in one of the World Cup’s greatest knockout round upsets. Considering their kit history, notably the bold and brutal “CCCP” shirts from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, these boring entries finish a distant 4th.

Speaking of flag integration, enter Sweden. A group that included Germany, Mexico, and South Korea might have had other teams shaking in their boots. Not the Swedes. They hung tough, fought through, and find themselves firmly in the quarterfinals. Few other teams have tried as many kit templates as the Swedes over the years, and they deserve credit for that. They still finish third, though, because this edition is the least creative of that bunch.

England generally keep it simple: white shirts and socks with blue shorts at home and red shirts and socks with white shorts away. That famous picture of Bobby Moore on Neville Longbottom’s shoulders (not really, but have a look for yourself… it kind of looks like the famous Gryffindor), hosting the World Cup trophy? Red shirt, white shorts. Iconic. To choose between the two is much like Ace Ventura’s dilemma, trying to remember the password to get into Woodstock’s tech lair: “Is that the red or the white?” Either way, The Three Lions find themselves plucky runners up on tradition.

An independent country since 1991, Croatia have become a real player in European football in recent years. They’re known for their Red and White checkered shirts (and to see view kit throughout the years, this is a good resource) and a 3rd place finish in France ’98. In Russia, they’ve played 3 of 4 matches in their away shirt, a Darth Vader-esque black and blue interpretation of their primary stripe. Though black alternate kits have had their day (and then some), this is one of the best and is enough to win them this side of the bracket.

The Finals

Now that the facts have been written, it’s time for you, the readers, to pick a winner.

Belgium and Croatia, red argyle and black checkers, bridesmaids finally becoming brides. On you go then.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Nick Fishman says:

    CROATIA

  2. Agree on the kit finalists. The classics are nice (Brazil, France and Uruguay) but I like the flashier/bolder choices.

  3. I think checkers beats argyle, based on a crappy VAR decision.
    .
    Thanks for this entertaining read

  4. Nice picks, Chris! You picked all the winners!

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