Colombia (Home 2019)

So, we leave Europe for a while and look elsewhere in the world. With three big national team competitions (plus the Gold Cup) this summer, there surely is enough to cover in terms of new jerseys. And I want to start with the Copa America as this very jersey might feature slightly altered in the Premier League next season. More on that in a bit.

It may not be the big story (jersey-wise) of the upcoming Copa America, but the new Colombia shirt is definitely a looker and thus, let’s make this the first Copa America jersey we will look at this year:

‘Bruised banana‘ was one of the first things that came to mind here. And if that was truly the inspiration (Colombia is after all a major banana producer), then kudos to Adidas. But I do have my doubts. I rather think that another 90s inspired print needed to be shown off at a major tournament and of the three South American Adidas teams (there is also Japan) present in Brazil, only Colombia with its yellow tops fit the bill.

However, Adidas fared much better with re-creating a classic kit a year ago than with this one. There is just too much navy on there and the whole look is decidedly cluttered. The wavy bruised banana pattern is created by horizontal lines of differing widths in similar fashion to the current Germany jersey and is also present on the sleeves. But it is all a bit too much as I think the pattern is too big. It also is very much present behind the crest and the Adidas logo on the front and thus de-emphasizes them. Not a very good idea. The placement could have been done in a more clever way. To top it off, the top part of the red numbers on the front is also affected.

I also think the jersey lacks some visual punch due to the even lighter shade of yellow used. It was already too light at the World Cup, but this one takes it a step further into a wrong direction. It increases the contrast even more and thus from a distance, the overall look is a bit “muddy”.

My two favorite features here are the nice fold-over V-neck and also the new number font. Very clear and nicely rounded. It is pleasant to look at and reminds me of numbers used in the 1950s and 1960s. Nice touch.

The back is in complete contrast to the front totally plain. Given that UEFA is trying to ban these two-sided shirts soon, I hope this is also the last time we see this on the international stage. I like that the numbers are clearly legible, but I do not like the contrast between front and back.

Now, back to the ‘bruised banana’: the reason, I chose to write this post first is that I really think that Arsenal could wear a very similar shirt in the ’19/’20 campaign. We already have reports that the ‘bruised banana’ design will come back and this is very close to it. So, you hear it from me first: this is not only the new Colombia home jersey, but also the new Arsenal away jersey! Well, time will tell if I am right here.

As Colombia jersey, this one is meh. At the moment, I do not see the obvious connection to the country (except for the bananas and the colors) and I really do not like the light shade of yellow. The red numbers are saving it from the abyss, but considering the size and the placement of this pattern, this one is not a very good jersey. Sorry, Adidas. However, if you do this for Arsenal, I might give out a higher grade!

My rating: 3/10 stars.

How would you rate this jersey?

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Israel (Home & Away 2016-19)

I am feeling creative and I am starting this post on the same day that the Albania one posted. So, on to the last but surely not the least team of the 2018 UEFA Nations League C. During my research on Israel jerseys, I found the super informative blog Israeli Matchworn, which I of course used extensively in my research. Originally, I even wanted to extend to at least 2014, but in the end it seemed best to start in 2016 as I could not find a good picture for the 2014-15 home jersey. And as both jerseys used the same template as Albania, my motivation to go super comprehensive got diminished. After all, you can check out Israeli Matchworn. But, let me know if you wanted me to cover these in a future post. I would like to hear from my readers.

Israel is in many ways the odd man out in European soccer. Don’t get me wrong – when I hear Israel, I am automatically thinking Europe. But geographically it is decidedly in Asia. However, with that many non-cooperative neighbors, it makes all the sense in the world to have Israel as part of UEFA. It might diminish their chances of qualifying for a big tournament, but you frequently get matches against bigger nations and are truly competing against the best of the world which is a big advantage.

Another benefit of being a member of UEFA is the fact that UEFA has a contract with one big supplier to give jerseys to its smaller nations that have no hope of getting a good kit deal themselves. Somewhat surprisingly, Israel was part of this program from 2008-2017 after seemingly being dropped by longtime supplier Puma. Thus, Israel was wearing Adidas jerseys starting with the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign:

First off, do you see what I mean with slim chances for qualifying? Israel was in a group with Spain and Italy! But to the shirts, where we first look at the home shirt which is blue as we would expect. In fact it is very close to the shade of blue from the flag. Now, the first time I saw Israel play in 1992 (against Austria), they did so in light blue jerseys and they also did so at the 1970 World Cup. So, in a way I always had Israel pegged down for sky blue jerseys. But looking at the flag, the deeper royal blue seems to make more sense, but also looks a bit generic.

Now, to the jerseys per se. Both feature a very generic and simple Adidas template with the three stripes running down the sides. For the blue home jersey this means white side stripes. White further appears on the sleeve cuffs and the backside of the collar. Of course the Adidas logo and the names/numbers are also white.

As for applications, Israel uses both a crest and the flag. And I have a slight issue with both of these. I definitely do not mind putting a flag on the shirt, but just the flag in its rectangular form is boring. Do it at least the Algeria way and make something more interesting, do not do it the Swiss way! It just adds to the “generic” look of the shirt. The crest on the other hand is everything but generic. It is rather a product of modern abstraction. In this case, the lines at the center form a star of David, but it is not immediately obvious. At least there is no soccer ball. But wait, there is more! Doesn’t it look familiar? No? Just imagine it in green! Clearly, Israel hired the same designer as Ireland and they both got very similar crests, which is disappointing. So, to summarize, both symbols are fine, but not great. And as usual, I would have preferred the national emblem.

I like the simplicity of the shirt, but almost everything here screams average. So, that’s what you get.

My rating: 5/10 stars.

Now, the away jersey is in many ways just a color reversal of the home jersey. Except for two details: the collar is now contrasting with the rest of the shirt (a nice feature) and there is some piping emanating from it (a not so nice feature). The piping somewhat bugs me as there is no real rhyme or reason to it. It just goes over the shoulder and end in the middle of nowhere. It just looks odd.

So, one nice feature, one that bugs me. Both are offsetting each other and the rating remains the same.

My rating: 5/10 stars.

Now, after that qualifying campaign, big changes were ahead for the Israel national team. It all started by hiring former Austrian sporting director Willi Ruttensteiner – a man of high football knowledge and vision. To this day I cannot understand why he was let go by Austria at the end of 2017. Austria has been going down ever since. Now, the Austrian connection did not end there, as Ruttensteiner quickly hired Austria’s best player of the 1990s, Andreas Herzog, as the new coach. A contentious decision, as a free kick of his ended Israeli qualifying hopes in 2001 in a very heated atmosphere. But Herzog seemingly was able to form a team spirit and the team almost made it out of Nations League C. Only a narrow loss to Scotland prohibited them from doing so. And they did so in their spiffy new Puma jerseys:

Wikipedia claims that these blue jerseys are the away kit, but from all I have seen in the Nations league, I can only come to the conclusion that these really should be the home kits. And what home kits they are!

Sky blue is back and boy it is beautiful. And the simplicity of the shirt really let’s the blue shine through! There are only a few white accents on the sleeve cuffs and of course the collar, which – as is usual for the current Puma template – is broken up by the raglan sleeves. You also get the typical Puma dot pattern, but nothing special. It is more Italy than Uruguay when looking for bespoke pattering. Looking up close you might make out a very subtle chevron made from the same dot pattern as on the sleeves.

While the jersey is missing a bespoke pattern like most other Puma nations, the overall feel is very much like the Uruguay – especially considering the black names and numbers. In fact, I would argue the white accents make it feel like a better version of the Uruguay shirt. But I guess, this down to personal preference.

Simple, but beautiful. Not quite sold on the collar, but I love the uncluttered look and the simple feel of this one. A definite improvement!

My rating: 8/10 stars.

Now, the Nations League did not end as desired, but Israel was handed a very doable qualifying group containing Poland, Austria and Slovenia. Playing Austria also had the added benefit of knowing the opponent inside out and providing coach Herzog a chance for redemption. After all he got overlooked three times as the new coach of the Austrian national team (and dare I say rightly so on at least two occasions). And redemption he did get, when Israel beat Austria 4-2 at the start of the qualifying campaign (a game I am still not over because Austria thought they would win it in first gear). And that win was achieved in their away jersey:

Again, this is a color-reversal but with a slight twist. And that twist comes in form of the chevron across the chest which is now much more visible. The obligatory form stripe is also of the same subtle shade achieved by a tight dot pattern. All in all a very nice touch.

Originally, this shirt was intended to be worn with sky-blue numbers (and I have a feeling white numbers were slated for the home kit), but I guess saner minds prevailed and black was chosen instead. After all it does provide the best contrast.

As with the home jersey, the collar is broken by the sleeves, but otherwise the shirt is simple and effective. My only gripe is the fact that the white contrasts too little with the home jersey and Israel is poorly equipped for color clashes. I think this might be the reason that the team had to play their opening EURO 2020 qualifying matches at home in white. But by itself, this is simple, but also quite nice.

My rating: 8/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Albania (Home, Away and Third 2019-20)

Yes, I did not forget about Israel. But in my randomly generated list, they are the last team to be covered and Albania is among the first ones. And in reality, I already want to write about some of the awesome kits released for the big three tournaments this summer. But finish the job, Roland! So, I briefly agonized over putting Albania ahead of Israel or not. In the end it will be Albania first, simply because it will require a bit less time consuming. Ah, the lazy side always wins! 🙂

So, somewhat unexpectedly (at least to me) Macron released an entirely new set of kits for the start of EURO 2020 qualifying. A start that was kind of shaky: 0-2 at home to Turkey followed by a 3-0 away to Israel. Here they are in their full PR glory:

This release was surprising to me as the previous set only lasted for a single year or so. However, the new set does something that the 2018 version does not: reference the Albanian flag. Otherwise, Macron stayed largely true to their previous concept. Let’s knock the jerseys out, one by one and start with the home jersey:

Well, as before we get a largely red shirt with a black collar.. This time around, Macron really aced the collar (at least to my eyes). I especially like the opening of the polo style collar as it reminds me of traditional clothing on the Balkans. I am not sure of the top of the sleeve cuffs is open or features a black patch. As far as I can tell from the promo-shots it is the former, but the in-match pictures don’t confirm this. Still, it is a decent, but somewhat strange look, either way.

The crest is still quite nice, but the red shield more or less blends in with the shirt as it did with the previous iterations. But surely, the big eye-grabber is the abstract pattern on the front. As with the 2016-17 shirt, this is a clear reference to the double-headed eagle on the Albanian flag. I personally like it a bit better than the 2016 version, but it still is a bit too abstract to my liking. And the different shades are a bit too random (I am of course saying this as a statistician).

Overall, this is an improved look over 2018, but I still would love a less abstract pattern on there. But in-match these jerseys look quite nice. And I love that a pretty simple font is used for names and numbers. No fancy Puma or Adidas stuff. Just keep it simple!

Due to the really nice collar and the slightly cleaner look, I will go with a slightly higher rating as before:

My rating: 8/10 stars.

Now, to the two alternate versions:

Well, both jerseys are just re-colored versions of the home jersey. And this also means that the collar with the red trim and the full-colored crest. And it is especially the latter feature that makes both of these look great. Also, the abstract pattern is preserved and adjusted for the main color of the jersey. So, they are light grey on the white version and dark grey on the black one.

I really love the look and feel of the white jersey, which also comes with black names and numbers. Due to the high contrast, the collar really stands out and gives the jersey even more elegance (which is swiftly undone by the pattern on front). Also, note how the crest really stands out here. This is high contrast at its best. So, this is marginally better than the home jersey, but not really enough to warrant a higher grade.

My rating: 8/10 stars.

And this time around, the black jersey also really looks well as it is simply that: all black with the exception of the crest and the pattern. I assume they would use white names and numbers on this shirt, although I would love red ones on there – but I really cannot see that.

Should they have re-colored the collar to red with a white trim? Maybe. But I like the clean overall look here. To me, I cannot really separate this from the home shirt, so let’s stay with the rating. These are nice shirts, after all!

My rating: 8/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Lithuania (Home & Away 2016-19)

Now, we are really going deep. In fact, only two nations from Nations League C are missing (including Lithuania). However, I won’t go to League D afterwards, but rather start looking at the new jerseys for the big competitions this summer. So, expect a lot of African and South American posts soon. And then, there is also the Women’s World Cup with some excellent jerseys. All in the future, so let’s get to Lithuania first.

To be honest, there really is not much I can tell off the top of my head about the national team of Lithuania. They were always a lot better in Basketball than soccer. But I do remember one thing: in the early 1990s, Austria’s leading team at the time, FK Austria Wien, relied heavily on the brilliance of two Lithuanian stars: Valdas Ivanauskas and Arminas Narbekovas – both of whom were star players in the league.

But that is probably it as Lithuania never really made any major impact on the European soccer scene and even worse is currently in a true funk. In World Cup qualifying, the team only managed a solitary win over Malta and finished well off the pace. At least, the jerseys worn in that campaign are something to talk about:

As we will see, Lithuania splits its national colors between the two versions of the kits which are currently manufactured by Hummel. The home jersey is typically yellow and worn with green shorts. And while I would love to see red socks, more often than not the socks are yellow. It surely is a very unique look within Europe.

In the 2016-17 version though, the shirt is yellow with black and white accents which is quite off brand. In fact, at a first glance, I would not have made these out as Lithuania shirts. Why not use green and red instead and do something special here?

Also, the design is rather odd with hockey-style black shoulder yokes that are connected to the black side panels with some piping. In between is a V-neck collar outlined in black-yellow-black and with. the front looking weirdly incomplete.

The sides are embellished by Hummel’s trademark chevrons in white. Take out the piping and this would actually be an interesting template. However, as I said above when using it for Lithuania, I would have wished that black would have been replaced by green and the chevrons probably should have been in red.

So, that was a downer, but there are also some really nice features: the crest is quite unique and frankly superb. Of course it references the knight from the coat of arms, but in a modernized version. Furthermore, there is a subtle all over pattern on the shirt that really adds a special something to it.

Names and numbers are applied in a rather simple style, which is what I come to expect from Hummel. So, no foul, but rather enhancement here if we again overlook the use of black.

My main problem with this shirt is two-fold: the strange template and the use of black (and to lesser degree white) as an accent. The crest and the pattern are on the other hand quite superb, but they don’t lift this shirt too much:

My rating: 5/10 stars.

I wrote a lot about the home jersey, but there was a good reason: the away jersey is just the home jersey in red. All the black and white accents remain as does the overall look of the shirt.

Oddly enough, the shirt is worn within an all-red kit thus all the other two national colors are not even present on this one. But then, the yellow/green is so unique that this shirt has not been worn in any of the qualifying matches for the World Cup, which is a bit of a shame as it doesn’t look bad.

My rating: 5/10 stars.

Now, for the Nations league. Hummel issued a new set that pretty much addressed all the issues I have raised above:

Off the bat, the design is much simpler with yellow a lot more dominant. In typical Hummel style the chevrons run down the shoulders and are in green. Other than that, there are side panels in green and white which to me don’t serve much purpose except for pointing out that players sweat there a lot. Well, it does extend onto the sleeves and so gives it a bit character, but it also should have extended to the bottom.

Speaking of the bottom, there is a really nice pattern on the tail of the shirts in the national colors. It is very subtle, but a great looking touch!

But then, the black accents are retained for all applications. Maybe green would have also done, but here I do not mind the black at all. And I am also happy that the simple font was retained.

The side panels are odd, but everything else looks quite well. This is a nice kit!

My rating: 7/10 stars.

Now, as before the away kit is just an all-red version of the home kit. And this one actually was worn when the Lithuanians had to face Romania away from home. And on that rainy night, we got a rather simple shirt.

Same template, but now we have only silver accents and white applications. It is a decent look, but maybe bordering n a tad boring as none of the other national colors pops up.

My rating: 6/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Hungary (Home & Away 2014-19)

It is time to write about a true giant on the European soccer scene – at least when considering the formative years of soccer in Europe: the mighty Magyars. So far, there is only one post on Hungary and it is basically a vlog entry. We need to rectify that! Writing about Hungary is also a tad easier as they have been with Adidas for quite a while with hardly any bespoke designs. So, let’s get right to it!

If soccer was a fair game, Hungary would proudly boast a World Cup title with the added claim of potentially being the best ever team to win it. Instead, the Miracle of Bern happened and launched Germany onto the scene as a true force. But Hungary remained a frequent guest at World Cups even recording the highest ever World Cup win in a 10-1 mauling of El Salvador in 1982 (the only team so far to score double digits). But with the end of communism came the big fall and I am still debating whether Hungary or Uruguay had the bigger fall in world soccer. My vote probably would go for the (once) mighty Magyars.

We have already covered the home jersey of the successful EURO 2016 qualifying campaign, so let’s check out the corresponding away jersey:

Well, this is the same template as the home jersey – just white and red reversed. There really is not much more to say except for the fact that some green details on here would have looked really well. How about the middle of the three stripes in green? Green-white collar? I think just a dash of green would have make this a bit better. And since the sleeves and the collar are mainly white, the jersey comes off as very white. So, that is a little downer. And for that reason

My rating: 5/10 stars.

Now, Hungary was one of the last teams to qualify for EURO 2016 when they somewhat surprisingly edged Norway in the playoffs. They also became the team that pretty much everybody wanted to play. Boy were people underestimating them! First and foremost my home country of Austria who started the tournament against their eternal rivals (in fact the oldest and most frequently played continental rivalry), who again were in their away jerseys:

First off – it was a true shame that Austria was the home team, as I would have loved to see the reversed jersey match-up. The one pictured above just does not look right.

However, almost everything I missed in the 2014-15 away jersey was rectified here with green as a secondary accent color. And it is almost the same template, just one slight iteration later.

Maybe I might have preferred a green stripe among the Adidas shoulder stripes, but at the time Adidas didn’t do that anymore. And so we have the stripes ending in a green band midway on the sleeves and a green tail.

I personally would love, if Hungary would revive their “classic” away design (think the 2018 Mexico away shirt), but this one looks quite well overall. Yes, it is a template, but the colors were chosen correctly within the template and therefore:

My rating: 7/10 stars.

But Hungary did not only beat Austria, but finally wearing their home it the Magyars also played out a super exciting 3-3 draw with eventual winners Portugal to win the group. Thereafter the Hungarian miracle run ended, but it was certainly one of the stories of the tournament. And with this, we look at the jersey that put Portugal almost to the brink of elimination:

I told you at the beginning, this post is more or less writing itself as this jersey is the away jersey with red and white reversed. Clearly, Hungary is not one of Adidas’ top teams and so they get the full template treatment.

Still, I like the jersey in red a lot better and while the green bands halfway down the sleeves are a tad odd, the template looks quite well. I really see only one missed opportunity: replace the red on the collar with green! Yes, it would be a reversed Hungarian flag, but the correct color sequence would have been there.

Still, this feels very much like a proper Hungary jersey and so, I have not problem giving it a good grade:

My rating: 8/10 stars.

Unfortunately, the Hungarian revolution was restricted to the EURO 2016 group stage only. Belgium made short shrift with them in the round of 16 and World Cup qualifying was very quickly out of reach thanks to Portugal and Switzerland not flinching one little bit. There were some hopes of a good performance in the Nations League, but the team showed its quality only sparingly with only a slim chance for a playoff spot as it stands. But then, in late March Croatia made a visit to Budapest and was beaten in a very spirited performance instantly boosting Hungary’s chances. And Hungary did so in their new home kit:

Another template! Did you expect anything different after all the shirts shown here? The good thing is, that I really like this template. One of the best Adidas had to offer in the past decade. And we have seen it already with Belgium, Sweden, Northern Ireland and Scotland on this blog. That Condivo template is ubiquitous in 2018/19.

Yes, I probably would have preferred the shirt without a pattern, but the faded checkered pattern is faint enough to not distract from the overall look which is classic Adidas: crew neck, three stripes on the shoulders and sleeve cuffs in the colors of the collar. But it is exactly here that this shirt sets itself apart from the others shown here: For 2016-17 I bemoaned that the collar was white only and here the subtle green outline I longed for was included and so you get a very subtle flag effect that I really like. Also, the green tail just rounds out a pleasing shirt.

That I am not a fan of the Adidas font for names and numbers is no secret (just check the links above), but the other applications here are interesting. Hungary not only displays its crest but also a monochromatic version of the federation crest on the proper left (see below). All OK, but upon closer inspection it is just a variation of the main coat of arms, so why bother? That the backside of the collar says Magyarorszag is a nice touch (also below), but by far not a novelty.

Not spectacular, but very solid and the collar and sleeve cuffs just put this one over the top. Best Hungary shirt in a while!

My rating: 9/10 stars.

To my knowledge, the away shirt has yet to make an official appearance (potentially away to Wales in September), so we can only rely on promo shots here. But guess what, it is just a color reversal of the home shirt!

Well, almost! The main shirt indeed reverses red and white, but the sleeve cuffs are different from the collar this time around and it works quite well. Having the collar and the stripes in red on top and the sleeve cuffs and tail in green preserves the desired flag effect and gives the shirt a nice and cohesive look that is distinctively Hungarian. Maybe the federation crest could have been issued in three colors as well.

As for applications, I can only imagine red names and numbers, although I wish that all numbers were green. But I honestly do not see it. Still, this is also a solid offering and maybe the mighty Magyars will roar again at the European championship next year.

My rating: 9/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Montenegro (Home & Away 2014-19)

This is another post that has been in the works for a long time. I had the initial post started before the post on the centenary France jersey posted, but over the past weeks, I came to the realization that the Montenegro jerseys over the past 6 years are not only interesting, but also relatively easy to find online. In addition, there are is a little interesting twist in there. So, let’s get started …

Despite being one of the newer UEFA members, Montenegro has actually made quite some noise. After separating from Serbia in 2006, the team actually did make quite some noise in EURO 2012 qualifying even drawing twice with England. In the end, they failed at the last hurdle versus the Czech Republic in the playoffs. But Europe took notice of the Hrabri Sokoli (brave falcons). In World Cup qualifying, they confirmed their strong campaign with a credible third place finish behind England (again) and the Ukraine. And we will start our journey towards the end of this campaign.

Montenegro’s jerseys are pleasantly well defined: red with golden accents at home (obviously using the flag as inspiration) and white with red and to lesser degree golden accents on the road. And since 2008 Italian brand Legea provides the kits and somehow on a weird schedule as the set below was worn in 2014 (into the start of the EURO 2016 qualifying campaign).

What a nice set of kits! The taping on the side may give them a certain turn of the millennium feel, but if those were left out, we are talking Grade A jerseys.

The home jersey is an all red affair, where the accents only appear on the V-neck, the sleeve cuffs and the aforementioned taping. Why the taping stops somehow in nowhere is beyond me, but to its credit it gives the bottom part of the jersey a nice frame. Still, I probably could do without it.

However, I absolutely love the V-neck with its two bands of gold which are also reflected on the sleeve cuffs. On the latter however, the outer band is a whole lot thicker than on the collar which makes the look a bit inconsistent.

No complaints about the rest of the jersey: the font used for names and numbers is simple but very effective and the crest looks actually quite nice. Maybe the Legea word mark could also have been in gold. Also, note the huge scissor kick player silhouette on the sleeves.

Maybe the red is a bit too dominant, the taping could have been left out and the striping on collar and sleeve cuffs is inconsistent. Still, these look very well overall and I like to see smaller nations in a great look.

My rating: 8/10 stars.

The away jersey has the exact same template, but thanks to the white base, all the accents stick out even more. This really makes the collar and the sleeve cuffs shine and I absolutely love it. Reminds me of a Roma away jersey – and that is never a bad thing! To me they look even better than the home jersey!

My rating: 9/10 stars.

Montenegro’s home fans are both a blessing and a curse. At best, they provide the fervent support in a relatively small stadium that can lift a team and intimidate the opponent. However, on the flip side there is the frequent racial abuse (which is unfortunately not all to uncommon in the Balkans) and the volatile behavior. It is a powder keg that exploded early in 2015 in a game against Russia that saw the game abandoned and awarded to the opponent. And after that disaster, the nice kits above were retired and replaced by the next iteration:

Well, things got simplified and a bold chest band was introduced, but I cannot help but say these were a significant downgrade from the previous set. In a way they look cheap and hastily put together.

Again, I like the home jersey a tad less as we have only a huge yellow (gold?) chest band with next to no functionality. Put the number in there! Would you? To me squeezing the number between the crest and the Legea logo clutters the top half way too much.

But what really turns me off is the collar: Nothing against the crew neck, but making it half gold, half red is not only odd looking, the red half disappears from the shirt! It gives the shirt an incomplete look, which actually fit with the team who was in transition

I don’t like asymmetric looks (especially collars) unless they are delivered in a classy way. To me this collar truly breaks the shirt. The band is also too clunky and does not serve any purpose. Therefore, the result is a less than average shirt.

My rating: 3/10 stars.

The away jersey has the bonus of having two accents. That means the two tone band (gold on top) gives the jersey a lighter feel. The half-half collar also looks a bit better, but still not great. At least the sleeve cuffs stand out and add another accents. But overall, only slightly better and by no means a favorite of mine.

My rating: 4/10 stars.

Obviously, the EURO 2016 qualifying campaign did not go well as the team who was expected to contend for the qualifying spots fell well short of them. So, it was in a way back to the drawing board for World Cup qualifying which also meant a new set of kits:

It is funny how Montenegro’s kit designs do a little follow the form of the team. As the team picked up the pieces during a decent World Cup qualifying campaign, their look also improved.

Finally, both jerseys have the simple look I have been calling for and there are really only two accents: the collar and a bold stripe on the top side of the sleeves.

The collar is a definite improvement albeit with a slightly peculiar shape as the front turns into a point. Still, a vast improvement. I am however not sure, what to make of the two-tone sleeves. I think contrasting sleeves would have looked better, but this is quite reminiscent of 1990 Adidas. It surely looks weird.

Comparing the two versions, I have to say that the collar looks again better on the away jersey, but the sleeves make more sense on the home jersey. And for that reason, believe it or not, we have a tie, ladies and gentlemen!

My rating: 6/10 stars (for both).

As mentioned above, the World Cup qualifying campaign started brightly, but fizzled out in the end. But it was enough to haul Montenegro into League C where they were to meet neighbors Serbia, Romania and Lithuania. For a while Montenegro seemed to be in contention, but in the end both Serbia and Romania proved to be stronger. And so was the latest set provided by Legea:

Now, that is more like it and I would say these are the best kits Montenegro have worn ever. Yes, they seem at first sight more fit to be worn as leisure wear, but they are truly stylish.

The home kit is really taking inspiration from the flag by limiting the golden accents to a minimum – namely the sleeve cuffs and the buttons on the collar. And yes, the Legea word mark is finally not messing the color scheme while the font remains consistent and beautiful.

The only minor complaint are the sleeves which are in a slightly darker color. But overall, this is a great looking shirt!

My rating: 9/10 stars.

And would you believe it? I find the away shirt even better looking! The red collar on the white shirt with the yellow buttons stands out and the red sleeve cuffs add character. I also like how the crest stands out even more clearly.

These are very fine shirts and probably the best Legea shirts I have seen so far and the away jersey IS the crowning glory:

My rating: 10/10 stars.

France (Centenary Home 2019)

Now, originally I wanted to continue with the European national team shirts by looking at Montenegro. I actually have already started writing that post, but then Nike released a one-off centenary shirt for the current World Champions. I guess, Montenegro can wait a little more…

So, the FFF is celebrating 100 years. However, astute readers of my blog will have realized that this is not the 100th birthday of the French national team. France plays internationally since 1904, but the national team was organized by various organizations and in fact tended to play in white rather than the more familiar blue. Blue did not become the established home color until the FFF was founded on April 7 1919 (read all about it here). And that is why the FFF and Nike issued a very special kit celebrating this centenary. A kit that was intended to only be worn on March 25, 2019 at the Stade de France versus Iceland. Let’s have a look:

What a classy shirt! It looks entirely retro but of course uses the latest technology and cut (it is all current Nike template except for the collar). First of all, the shade of blue is perfect for France! It is not the deep royal blue that Adidas tended to use, but rather a slightly lighter tone – one that was probably last used in 1986, but was very popular in the 50s and 60s (and probably before that).

Second, the crest that has been in use since 2014, really looks old-school in gold. While the original rooster was rarely entirely in gold, it came in a brown-ish shade that was very close to gold. So, extra points here. The only not so “ancient” feature on the crest are the two stars above it. But would you leave them out? No, you earned them!!!

Next, the retro feel is really enhanced by using the polo style collar. Maybe the little French flag on the lower button could have been omitted, but on the other side this is a nice touch. Inside the collar is the “official” centenary logo.

But what really puts this one over the top is the fact that the swoosh has pretty much the same shade as the rest of the shirt and is thus largely invisible. Bravo Nike for swallowing your pride and going (almost) invisible.

Now, fitting to the centenary and the fact that you just won your second World Cup, all other applications are in gold. This of course includes the World Cup winner’s patch, but mostly the lettering, which is in the same style as for the 2018 home and away shirts. Also note, how plain the back is despite all the 2018 Nike features (taping on the center collar and random noise pattern) being present.

One thing I will never quite understand is the fact that the World Cup winner’s patch is not sold on the regular non-Adidas jerseys, but typically has to be requested or acquired separately. And this is also the case here. Now don’t get me wrong – the shirt looks best when it is as plain a possible, but the patch also does not look out of place. Also, with the swoosh not so visible and the patch in the center, the front number on the proper right does not bother me at all – and that is a rarity!

What makes this shirt really stand out is its role within the entire kit. Just look at the pictures from the match against Iceland. Blue shirts with white shorts and red stockings. PERFECT! Yes, the sleeve patches are probably a bit too much, but then you cannot play without them these days. So, won’t complain about that one.

This one is an absolute beauty! It is proof that you can be retro and modern at the same time without losing class. The vanishing swoosh is just a genius move and the entire kit is a wonderful sight to behold. A pity that only 7000 of this one will be sold and that currently it is more or less sold out. I hope Nike will make more of these available as there is only one way I can rate this one! Must have!

My rating: 10/10 stars.

How would you rate this shirt?

Estonia (Home & Away 2014-19)

I promised a shorter time between posts, so here it is. I actually really want to get all League C teams done before deciding whether to look at some other continents or to continue with League D. Speaking of which, League D has some truly interesting shirts that are in many ways more exciting than what we have seen so far. But, I will decide later. For now, we look at a team that was relegated to League D.

Going through all of Europe’s teams you are bound to get to nations where soccer clearly is not the number 1 sport and whose players barely have made any dent on a bigger stage. Estonia is one of those countries, but interestingly enough, their supplier, Nike, still issues somewhat unique kits for them. And there is also a surprising continuity running through the past three sets. Let’s start in 2014:

Well, let’s look at the entire set together as they use the same template, but rather different execution. The template should be well known from the 2014 World Cup, as Greece pretty much used the same jersey (the first time I was made aware of this template was on the 2013-14 Arsenal away kit). And what a fine template it is! I absolutely love it and it is probably my favorite Nike template of the current decade.

As the Greece shirt is so similar, I just want to point out the bespoke details that the Estonia shirt has:

First of an average crest that is so close to the Bulgarian one, but does not really feature the clip art soccer ball, but rather an abstract version of it. I am quite lukewarm about it.

Second, a quite unique kit font that has been carried forward until today. It is angular and slightly awkward, but surely unique (more pictures below).

Third, a little hedgehog is making an appearance at the backside of the collar. This detail (also carried forward until today) is probably my favorite and I wouldn’t even mind it replacing the crest. I actually think the design of the hedgehog is also reflected on the numbers. Great touch.

Also, note how the kit mimics the flag (as all great kits for national teams should attempt – unless tradition dictates otherwise). And the order of colors is just reversed on the away kit (although FIFA and UEFA kit regulations get an extra say here).

So, lots to like here and the home shirt is pretty much up there with the aforementioned Greece away jersey. The crest maybe could need a little work, but then the bespoke font and hedgehog detail are super nice touches so that I am willing to give the same score:

My rating: 9/10 stars.

Now, the away jersey is pretty much the same but suffers a minor flaw: too little color – it is just all-white. Unlike the Greece home shirt of the same year, the collar does not stand out and therefore just vanishes. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a very nice shirt and the blue lettering saves it from being too monochromatic. If more color was there, a higher grade would be in order, but this way:

My rating: 7/10 stars.

Now, we spent a whole lotta time on a quite old kit, but interestingly the main design elements have been retained for the next two iteration, as well. However, the template has changed and that is what we will focus on.

This home kit that was issued for the World Cup qualifying campaign is actually quite interesting for two reasons: it is noticeably darker than its predecessor, but also the cut of this template does not use the raglan sleeves seen on the most prevalent 2016 Nike template. While I loved the 2014 shirt, I actually see a lot of reason to incorporate black into the design as it is one of the three national colors and since white is used for all lettering this is a way to give black its due. The slight fade from blue to black on the sleeves is a sign of the times, but I actually find it a nice touch. I do however wonder, why the swoosh is black, as it almost disappears from the shirt and gives it a somewhat cheap feel.

Let’s be clear, I like the inclusion of black but overall, this shirt does not look as great as the previous one. It is just a bit too dark – especially when seen by itself.

My rating: 7/10 stars.

Well, the corresponding away jersey (which was worn in a humiliating 8-1 defeat to Belgium) uses the same template, but exchanges blue with white. In addition the numbers and all applications are in black making for a quite monochromatic jersey (I am not sure about the crest, but it was never that colorful anyway).

I am not against monochromatic jerseys per se, but given that blue is also a national color, this seems to be going a bit too far. I think the numbers in blue would have worked really well on that one. But then, given the result from Brussels, the black is fitting. All in all, not quite my cup of tea.

My rating: 6/10 stars.

And with that we come to the current set. Took us a while to get there, but I think it was worth it to look at two previous iterations. So, the here is the latest home jersey which was worn during the inaugural UEFA Nations League and now in the European qualifiers:

Unfortunately, this is the best shot I got from that jersey but it gives us a very good look about all the features. The shirt is basically what we would have expected in 2016. I am not 100% sure, but I would assume it is the 2018 updated version of that (infamous 2016 template). White is back as the accent color and there is next to no black. I think an Estonian version of the 2016 France home jersey might have looked quite nice, but overall I do like the white accents better as it makes for a lighter shirt.

But then, the template is rather boring and thus the shirt is just average. Only the retained number font and hedgehog accents lift it slightly from the doldrums of absolute mediocrity.

My rating: 6/10 stars.

And so, what would you expect from the away jersey?

GRE-EST 0-1 (Athens, Nov 18, 2018)

Well, the only real picture I could find does not show much, but after watching it in action, it really is only a white version of the home template. As for 2016, the main accent is black and thus a monochromatic look is retained. But due to the template, it is even less appealing than the 2016-17 away kit.

My rating: 5/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Cyprus (Home & Away 2018-19)

I am back to writing ways. It has been an incredibly busy period for me in the past months, but the onset of the European Qualifers made get back to my laptop. The whole matter was not helped by the fact that research-wise, this post was quite difficult and therefore I decided to only look at the most recent shirt. If more information becomes available, I will do my best to revisit. And I plan to publish my next post much much sooner!

Despite playing in League C, Cyprus is still one of the smaller nations of Europe and is therefore part of UEFA’s Assistance program providing a unified supplier deal for all of Europe’s smaller teams. For years, this deal was made with Adidas, but after some serious complaints about the lack of originality of the supplied shirts during the precious World Cup qualifying campaign, UEFA negotiated a new deal with Italian brand Macron. Given Adidas’ recent change in strategy (gearing to more high profile exclusive deals), I am sure everyone was happy with this new arrangement. Most of all the smaller nations as they all had now more unique looks. So, let’s have a look at Cyprus’ first Macron kits starting with the home shirt:

Well, I chose the blue shirt as the home jersey, but it is not entirely straightforward with Cyprus as they have used both shirts at home – and that for quite a while. But in two Nations League games, the blue was worn, so I am going with that one.

What can I say? It is a simple shirt, but with a modern twist. Blue base with slight white accents. But all of these are a bit problematic. Both the white cuffs and tail stripe are broken up for no apparent reason. But overall, it is not that big of a deal and rather a style choice.

However, I am really bugged by the white outline around the collar which is thin to the right and grows a whole lot thicker on the left before thinning out again. It is an asymmetric look that I am rarely a fan of. Given that the crest puts already quite some weight on the left, it would have made more sense to do it the other way around. Or (novel concept!) make it symmetric.

Speaking of the crest, it is nicely positioned and despite the rather child-like depiction of a dove, it is largely quite OK (read: it has no soccer ball in it!). I also like the white numbers and the simple sans-serif style, which gain has a few modern touches, but is very legible and thus no complaints here!

If it wasn’t for the collar, I would give this otherwise rather average jersey better marks, but this one looks just too crazy for me.

My rating: 4/10 stars.

Fortunately, the away jersey is a more “traditional” affair:

That’s how it is done: simple, yet effective. Take your average white jersey put a few blue accent and a nice collar on it and there you have it: a good-looking shirt for a small nation. Yes, it might be too simple but given that we all are accustomed to seeing these teams in very standard Adidas fare, this one is a breath of fresh air. That the numbering style (same as above) enhances the overall feel of the shirt is a nice touch. Also, seeing the Macron logo on the shoulders is (at least at the moment) a welcome sight! Good job! You really don’t need to go all fancy on us here!

My rating: 7/10 stars.

Scotland (Home & Away 2016-19)

After a lengthy absence, let’s get back to writing posts. I wondered if I should make an interlude for the Asian Cup, but on one hand the information on the jerseys there are not very complete and on the other hand, I probably can handle it in a series of videos (which I will re-post here). So, I referred back to my random order generated in November and Scotland is up next. I am quite excited about this one as I generally Scotland jerseys and wanted to have one for myself for a while now. So, let’s have a look at the latest offerings:

While I felt that Scotland started well into EURO 2016 qualifying, the side was too inconsistent to go anywhere. When qualifying started for the 2018 World Cup it quickly went all south and by the end of 2016 there was not much more than a theoretical chance of surviving a group with eternal foes England. But at least some prestige was attained in a spectacular 2-2 draw at home to England thanks to two (!!!) late free-kick goals by Leigh Griffiths. And these were scored in this kit:

Initial reaction: even amounts of likes and dislikes. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the white sleeves should never have featured on here! White sleeves had only been worn once before against Hungary in 1954 and then it was more Arsenal style and not Raglan style. This way, the upper half is too white and that caused trouble when facing England and the odd sight of the two eternal rivals using their away kits. I don’t mind the white V-neck however …

I also initially liked the pattering on the shirt. It does remind me of a tartan pattern, but then the same pattern appeared on the jerseys for Ukraine and Bosnia & Herzegovina. That kind of undoes the effect. Also, was the Scotland flag on the back really necessary? It looks a bit like a foreign object.

The big plus for me is the crest which really pops on here and is featured in all its full-color glory! The monochromatic version was clearly a mistake.

So, does one little crest outweigh the large shoulders? Not really and nice try on the pattern, but we caught you out, Adidas!

My rating: 4/10 stars.

So, with the white shoulders causing problems against the “Auld Enemy”, let’s see what Scotland actually had to wear that day at Wembley (even though they really didn’t want to):

Well, pink had been floating around for Scotland for a while. In fact in 1999, the third kit was salmon pink and the previous kit had some pink striping. Still, this one just looks odd. Very odd, indeed! All pink with black shoulders and collar. And I guess in order to let the pink-ness hit you in full force, the crest is monochrome once more. No need for more color. But my main gripe is in fact with the colors. That the template in itself is also not that great doesn’t help either.

I don’t know what is worse? The kit or the result at Wembley? Either way, it is ugly!

My rating: 2/10 stars.

With the kits obviously matching the performances in 2016-17, let’s hope that things improved come 2018. The home kit comes of course first:

Better! Much better! We return to the all-navy kit with just a few white accents. Yes, I do like the white fold-over V-neck trimmed in navy as well as the white sleeve cuffs and side-striping. On the other hand that is pretty much it!

Or is it? Look closer and I mean very close and you will see some geometric pattering on this shirt? The pattern? Well, it is the one worn by the Netherlands in 1988, but of course very sublimated and only as outline. However, while Scotland deserves a ton of historic credit (it was them that introduced passing as a valid tactical device), I am not sure using this pattern that is so connected to the Netherlands makes any sense here …

Still, there is way more plus than minus here. It looks like a traditional Scotland jersey and it feels like one. The pattern is so subtle that it won’t derail the score. Actually, I do like that there is some texture on this shirt!

My rating: 8/10 stars.

And the away jersey, you ask? Return to tradition or something more unusual once more? Let’s have a look:

Well, clearly back to tradition but with a 2018 twist: the Condivo template that we have seen already on Belgium, Sweden, Northern Ireland and countless other teams. But as for Belgium it the pattern on the yellow base doesn’t distract too much and adds a nice structured feel to the shirt. And the chosen color is easily Scotland’s most recognizable away color. A plus!

I also like the navy accents which are used sparingly making for a great overall feel. I think my only minor complaint is that the crest does not pop as much out as it does from the home shirt. But that would have been the case for any yellow shirt.

Room for improvement? Yes, there is of course: use a better font (not exactly in the SFA’s control) and make the pattering a more bespoke. But overall, it really complements the home shirt quite nicely and completes a really nice kit set. And now that Scotland is promoted to League B, some success is also associated with this look.

My rating: 7/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?