Greece (Home & Away 2016-19)

I promised we will stay in the Balkans and I decided to slightly alter my random sequence in order to jump from neighboring country to neighboring country (the team that should have been this time will be featured in two posts from now – ah the geographic lure). And Greece has already been featured on this blog with their wonderful 2014 World Cup kits and let’s see how Nike proceeded with their kits.

Together with the Netherlands Greece was THE disappointment of the EURO 2016 qualifying campaign and I have covered their downfall after two very successful tournaments in 2012 and 2014. However, the rails really came off and for World Cup qualifying a re-boot was sorely needed. And things took an upturn in qualifying with only Belgium landing in front of them in their group. Unfortunately, Croatia proved too much to handle in the playoffs and so a second tournament in a row was missed out. So, the performances were better, but as you already expected the kits probably weren’t (you know, Nike and 2016 and all …)

Looking at these, I really feel that I don’t need to do much of a review as I already have done it – this week when looking at the Finland jerseys. Replace the crests and the inscription on the back (which at least uses the Greek alphabet) and you move from Finland to Greece – down to the colors used. It is just Nike at its template-worst! There really is no need to say more and use the same ratings as for the Finland home jersey. And call me a hypocrite, but the blue jersey suits Finland just a tad better than Greece, where I really think some more white was needed. So, same score for both of them.

My rating: 5/10 stars.

Well, the outcry from most fans of Nike teams was huge and so it was no surprise that more varied kits (as we have seen quite a bit on this blog) were released. However, in Greece’s case there was another surprise in store. Let’s look at the home kit first:

Yes, the home kit is blue again!!! Ever since winning EURO 2004, Greece did what many teams do: adopt the winning look as the home kit (BTW not the case in ANY way for Austria). And to be fair, I think given the rather even usage of blue and white on the Greek flag, either look is justified, but unless longstanding tradition (England, Germany) is behind it, teams should go for a color jersey at home. And for that reason, I am very pleased with Greece going back to blue!

But there is more: while you could have expected a rather plain blue look, this time around we are treated with a really nice pattern on the front – inspired by the Greek flag. I say inspired since the cross on the flag is its own entity and does not extend to the full width of the flag. Also, as we all know, the Greek flag is blue and white. Here the pattern is in a light (and very pleasant) blue. Personally, I would have liked to see an even lighter shade if not white, but I still like it a lot.

Clearly, the main advantage of having the pattern in blue is that all other applications can be in white (except of course for the crest) and have them stand out nicely. Speaking of the crest, it actually breaks a bit with the cohesion of the crest as the blue there doesn’t really match the blue of the shirt. But that is a very minor concern here.

I also love the flag inspired blue and white stripes on the taping on the back. Really nice shirt! Definitely a highlight of this year’s Nations League.

My rating: 9/10 stars.

On the other hand the white away jersey was a lot more simple (and in a way more traditional):

Well, look up the Finland home jersey and you almost get this one! The difference? This one is more plain as it does not have any additional features except for the blue faux-style collar. The crest is popping nicely, but basically the biggest design feature is the taping on the back. Not very exciting.

But then, if this is worn with blue pants it makes for a really nice look and it also is not a bad jersey overall. Just a tad bit too plain. I guess the weirdest feature are the numbers which are a tad darker than the other blue accents, but who would have noticed that? And I am very sorry to say, but these jerseys matched the Greece’s Nations League performances much better than the superb home jerseys.

My rating: 6/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?


Albania (Home & Away 2016-19)

Well, we stay with a EURO 2016 team and also one from Group A.. In fact, we will stay in the Balkans for a bit now – just a little heads-up! And to make things even more interesting, we will look at a different supplier in this post, too. 

Among the qualified teams for EURO 2016, Albania was surely the biggest surprise as they never had either taken part in a big tournament nor had they been close (Iceland was in the World Cup playoffs for 2014 at least). The team was actually so unheralded that many (including yours truly) discarded the growing legion of players in big leagues (mostly Serie A) and that Albania actually had a clever coach. Yes, qualification was surely helped by that incident in Belgrade, but nevertheless you also had to land in front of Denmark. A truly remarkable result.

It was also remarkable that prior to the tournament, Albania actually got a proper kit supplier as they had been under UEFA’s program in which Adidas equipped all their smaller nations with team wear. Now, the Italian connection was completed by having Albania wear Macron kits in France:

So, the new Macron kit was a bit of a mixed bag. First of all, it was interesting to look at and one of the more interesting kits at EURO 2016. I especially liked the wide Mandarn-style collar and the subtle use of white and black accents. White outlines the collar nicely and black as a little insert on the sleeve cuffs and the shoulder logos. Also, the crest with the double headed eagle looks nice on this shirt and is also featured on the backside of the collar.

But let’s not talk around the big feature: it is a hooped gradient pattern that is very similar to what Switzerland was wearing on their away kit (and ironically when they met in the group stage). The initially grey-ish hoops get a bit darker towards the top of the shirt where they are culminating in a pattern that clearly takes inspiration from the double-headed eagle of the flag. However, it is so stylized that this reference might get lost and the pattern is more akin to a bug with two antennas. Again, this falls under the umbrella great idea, bad execution.

A really nice feature though is that the front number nicely fits between the eagle heads/antennas and the lettering style is really nice.

Honestly, these aren’t bad. Yes, the execution of the pattern could have been a bit more eagle-like but it is interesting and stands out. For that, I am giving this a good grade:

My rating: 7/10 stars.

Now, the away and third kits used the same template and accents:

I actually think the white jersey looks quite nice, but it surely lacks red. I would have loved to see names and numbers applied in red, as it would have introduced the national colour more prominently. On the other hand, the crest is really pooping nicely here, but almost looks a bit too detached.

Still, it is a nice and cohesive look and is not really worse than the home jersey.

My rating: 7/10 stars.

Now, the third jersey (note that Albania wore all three jerseys at EURO 2016!) had to solve a conundrum: the accent pattern on both the home and away jersey was achieved using black/grey on the base color. That doesn’t work with black, does it? So, to solve that issue, Macron opted for a dark grey, which in principle is fine, but why not make the sleeves also grey. This way the shirt looks somewhat disjointed without any need for it. Only few teams can pull off sleeves in different colors and it should be a big contrast (you know, Arsenal style!). Here, I don’t like it. I would have rather have had black shirts and the pattern applied in red. That might have been a looker. But this way, I gotta drop my rating:

My rating: 6/10 stars.

I think any hopes for qualifying for Russia 2018 were immediately squashed by the draw (feat. Spain and Italy). And as with many other kits I have written about lately, it means that the new kits were first prominently displayed in the Nations League, where a decent start cold not be sustained and relegation was narrowly avoided.

While this new edition bears many similarities with the previous shirt (red with black accents and white lettering) it does have a distinct look to it. The collar is now fully in black and not as pronounced as before and I am not sure the black side panels are a very good look.

Still, the diamond pattern steals the show. I am not sure if it is a reference to any national symbol, but it looks nice. It actually reminds me of dragon scales or a mountain landscape.

So, there are some things I like better and some I like less. If the collar was a bit nicer and the panels were not there, I would consider a. higher rating, but this way it pretty much retains the status quo:

My rating: 7/10 stars.

And honestly, I can almost say the same for the away and third jerseys:

However, they both have some problems, that the 2016 versions did not have: The away jersey is nice and cohesive, but it lacks even more red and discoloring the crest is not to my liking.

My rating: 6/10 stars.

And the third jersey not only has the same flaw as the 2016 one, it also color reverses the crest and the red accents are a bit too erratic. Honestly, it looks quite messy and is my least favorite of the Albania jerseys in this post.

My rating: 4/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Romania (Home 2015-19)

Are you also tired of all these Nike kits? Well, fortunately there has been quite the influx of kit makers into UEFA’s national teams and one of them is Joma who is expanding into the Eastern European market. And probably their first signing was Romania. 

After years of being served one (mostly bad) Adidas template after another, the Romanian FA seemingly had enough of that. Well, that and Adidas’ new strategy. In case you are actually interested in the very old Romania Adidas kits, I found actually a very interesting article – talk about inconsistency!).

In any case, beginning in 2015 a new supplier contract woth Joma was signed and the new kit was immediately presented and worn for more than two years – including EURO 2016. Clearly, the question is whether the switch was worth it.

Frankly, no! Except for the missing three-stripe branding, these kits still had that luke-warm template feel to them. I like that all three national colors were employed (blue for the V-neck and numbers, red for sleeve cuffs and side panels), but of course this is mainly a yellow shirt. The yellow is actually a bit brighter than previously under Adidas.

The jersey retains the classic Romania crest which to me has the obvious flaw of featuring the clipart-style Tango ball. For that reason, I was never really a fan although I appreciate the three-color swirl around it.

On the bright side, it is a simple style that continues a traditional look and feel. I also like the font used as it is a) simple and b) fitting well with the shirt.

So, it is not exciting, but also in no way offensive. You can guess the rating then.

My rating: 6/10 stars.

For the away jersey, there is actually nothing more to add except that red and yellow are swapped and that all names and numbers appear in yellow (you know better contrast). So, to me I keep the same rating.

So, it is not exciting, but also in no way offensive. You can guess the rating then.

My rating: 6/10 stars.

As you could imagine, with a new supplier and a pretty dated crest a re-design was in the books. And for 2018, we really got a new look Romania: new kit, new crest, new design! Just have a look:

Now, full disclosure, I am a huge fan of the off center band through the crest. So, automatically you are getting better marks from me. That is in the colors of the Romanian flag, makes it even better! It is also a very distinct design that Romania has not been using.

But there is one big drawback to me: while I like the simple and plain overall style the whole thing is simply too yellow – especially when worn with yellow pants and socks. I think just increasing the thin blue trims would do wonders here. At least the red is used for the numbers once more thus adding a bit more of the third national color.

Still, given what has been before, the shirt is a big improvement. And we haven’t talked about the biggest change here, the crest! First of all, there is no soccer ball!!! Already a winner! Now, at first it looks a bit clunky but upon closer research and inspection it is actually really nice: the five panels on the shield are simplified versions of the coat of arms of the five main regions of Romania. They are arranged the same way as they are on the shield in the Romanian coat of arms. The pentagon in the center not only represents the country as a whole, but also links the five regions into unity. And given the slogan on the inside of the shirt (Together, we are football in Romanian), it is meant to represent Romanian unity. While at first it looks unusual, I actually warmed up to it a lot and I am quite happy with the change.

Now, the full coat of arms is also featured as a stylized version on the shirt as the shadow pattern adding another nice detail to it. However, upon close inspection it does resemble a bit a kid’s drawing of the coat of arms. Whether intended or not, this might be messing a bit too much with a national symbol. Still, the idea is nice and it is rally only visible upon closer inspection (check out the pic of the away shirt below, too).

Well, the yellow might be a bit overbearing, but overall this one is a winner.

My rating: 8/10 stars.

Now, of course with the home shirt alternatives had to be issued and while they follow the overall pattern present in the home shirt, they are not quite as distinct:

Now, the blue jersey is probably mostly used for goal keepers and is somewhere between the hoe and away jersey for me. I like the color, but the flag band gets a bit lost due to no proper separation from the base color. I therefore will forgo rating this one.

The red away jersey is also very similar to the home jersey basically swapping red for yellow and yellow for blue (except for the collar which is still trimmed in blue). However, it is weird that the band only uses two yellow stripes and no blue. It kind of makes it look quite boring and this less appealing than the home shirt.

I have been thinking long and hard of how the flag band could have been incorporated there without having the issue of the blue shirt where the blue side of the flag is barely distinguishable from the blue base color. First I thought about changing the stripe order, but you don’t do that with a flag. But, as the band is housed in a separate panel, why not use the yellow panel from the home shirt on the red shirt? It would retain the flag stripe and it would put some more color on there. I might be wrong, but I would love to see that.

As I said, the basic template is not bad, but this one is a bit boring. Especially the lack of blue drops it for me!

My rating: 6/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Norway (Home & Away 2015-19)

We stay in Scandinavia and we stay with Nike. It is actually remarkable how many Nike kits there are these days in Europe and how (almost) all posts on Nike kits since 2016 follow a very similar pattern. So, to break it up a little, I also include the 2015 kits – the first ever Nike kits produced for Norway.

After years with Umbro (including both great and horrible kits), the Levene (lions) started 2015 with a new supplier: Nike. Clearly the wonderkid Martin Ødegaard attracted this increased attention (to be honest, I think the jury is still out on him and I do have my doubts as he did not really make any impact since signing with Real Madrid). ANd of course, he feautred prominently on the first release pictures:

Well, Nike delivered a really nice shirt using all the national colors: red with a wide dark blue sash running from the right shoulder down. That the sash also has a slight fade to it is surely a sign of the times but does not hinder the overall look. The sash nicely houses the swoosh, but given the promo shot, the front number is slightly off. However, match footage seems to show that Norway did the proper thing: place the white numbers within the sash and everything looks fine.

The style of the shirt is rather simple with the round crew neck and no frills sleeve cuffs. My favorite feature though is the new crest! Placing the flag on a shield with two lions below is an awesome look. And on a quick glance you might even miss the NFF initials on there. Great look!

Overall, I really like this shirt, but I would have wished that the sash had a white outline – you know flag etc. I would say it is a good start into the new partnership.

My rating: 8/10 stars.

The new away kit was a more subdued affair and is saved by the wonderful crest. I guess the checkerboard pattern on it may have been inspired by grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, but that would be the wrong sport. Still, it is neither terrible maybe just a bit distracting. The only other accents on here are the red numbers and that is basically it. Simple and slightly boring.

My rating: 5/10 stars.

Clearly, the new kits did not help in securing a spot in France and even the qualification group for the 2018 World Cup proved to be tricky. And as with all the Nike teams that year, we got to see a Norwegian application of the new template:

Both are quickly described. The home jersey is red with navy accents and white applications. Note the inclusion of the match details above the swoosh. The away shirt just switches the red and the white to create a mainly white shirt. Both are OK, but overall quite boring. And looking at the away shirt, the crest looks smaller and almost incomplete as the golden outline provides too little contrast.

Overall, it is hard to differentiate these two shirts. I still like the red one a tad better, but this is not enough for a different rating.

My rating: 5/10 stars.

Obviously Nike got a lot of flak for squeezing all its teams into the same template and thus a lot more thought was put into the shirts used in the Nations League. In that tournament, Norway was finally convincing and in a tight battle with Bulgaria secured a promotion spot to League B and at least a chance for EURO 2020. And fortunately, they looked good doing so:

Much better, isn’t it? And yes, it is still very much a template but uses the accents in the right places. I love the navy sleeves and the white collar on the red shirt. It gives the shirt a very distinct Norwegian look. Yes, the collar is of the faux-collar type which is a downer, bit it doesn’t distract too much from the look. Another minus is surely the placement of the numbers, but the overall feel of this shirt is quite good. The colors fit perfectly to each other and complement the crest also nicely. As an added bonus, there is also a Norwegian flag in the taping on the back.

This one would get a perfect rating if the collar was simplified, but otherwise, this may well be a great look for Norway going forward.

My rating: 9/10 stars.

Well, I am happy to say that the away jersey also got some special treatment and is not the boring white jersey as the previous two versions. Well, most of it is white, but the upper torso is graced by alternating red and navy bands separated by white ones of similar width. The colored bands grow in size top to bottom and only the bottom red one does not follow the pattern as it sort of serves as a frame with the upper band. The wide navy band houses swoosh and crest and it all makes sense – almost! While the bands are clearly inspired by the flag of Norway, I think there are just a tad too many. Merging the upper three bands to a single red band would have made a lot more sense to me (although that may have necessitated a wider bottom band, as well).

Still, this is way better than the previous versions. Maybe next time we get a full blown Scandinavian cross all over the shirt. I am allowed to dream, am I?

My rating: 8/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Finland (Home & Away 2016-19)

The nice thing about writing this blog is the fact that I can go to smaller nations that usually do not get the headlines. Slovenia was already one such nation although we have seen them at big tournaments. Unless you are you are talking (ice) hockey, no such honor has ever been bestowed upon Finland. However, recent results show a clear upturn. 

Finland has produced some big players over the past decades (Jari Litmanen, Sami Hyypia), but even with these greats the national team was never in any way close to qualifying for a big tournament. And so it proved once more in the qualifying campaign for Russia 2018, where the tough opposition (Iceland, Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine) proved too much once again. And the jerseys worn in this campaign were as non-descript as that performance:

Well, I deal with both the home and away jerseys in one go as they are both the simplest application of the 2016 Nike template. Take the template, use simple shoulders (no pattering like for France or England – a plus!) and, chose the national colors and slap the federation crest onto it. Done!

In the case of the home jersey the classic white base colour with blue accents (just like the flag was used). I do like the flag shield on it, but overall it looks quite bare and boring. Not even the Suomi wordmark on the backside of the collar does make it better as this was the standard treatment. So, pretty average, I would say.

My rating: 5/10 stars.

The away jersey does pretty much the same thing as the home jersey but profits a bit from not being the exact opposite. No, the accents are not in white but an even darker blue. While a little bit of a head-scratcher, I think this gives the shirt a bit more of an old-fashioned plain look that the home shirt lacks. Yes, it is not very exciting, but then it does not need to be. ANd to me, it looks just a tad better than the home shirt.

My rating: 6/10 stars.

So, the previous two shirts were nothing to really write home about. And since Finland was of course not present at the World Cup, the new sets were introduced for the Nations League. There, the Fins surprised everyone by winning their League C group ahead of Hungary and Greece. In some way it was probably the most remarkable performance of the new tournament. And of course, Nike applied their latest template also to the Finnish national team:

In a way not much changed and still at least the home jersey is a lot better than its predecessor.  The white jersey again features blue accents in the form of the collar and two sleeve bands. The collar is the typical 2018 Nike fare and not that great, but it gives character to the shirt. The sleeve bands, however, give the shirt some customized extra that makes it stand out a bit more. Fix the collar and we are talking about a wonderful shirt!

My rating: 8/10 stars.

Now, the away jersey is a bit more of a looker as it introduces an entirely new color scheme: navy base with light blue shoulders. If you are a regular to my blog, you know that navy is one of my favorite shades for a soccer shirt and paired with a lighter blue, it usually produces greatness. That is, if the country’s national colors allow for that. And in the case of Finland, I am not so sure about it.

Yes, the flag is blue, but none of the two dominant tones here. Navy is too dark and the shoulders are too light. I still like the overall feel and that Nike prodices something more custom made, but it does not work so well with me. In particular, the crest looks disjointed from the rest of the shirt.

Still, I don’t want to be too harsh as overall, this shirt really does not look that bad. It just dies not scream Finland to me. A black shirt with Finland flag accents might have done that, bit not this version.

My rating: 7/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Slovenia (Home & Away 2016-19)

OK, back in the saddle again! After running through the League A and B teams, I had to take a breather and think of I how I am going to tackle the tall task of writing about 30 more teams (thank you Serbia for qualifying for Russia – it slightly reduces the work load). Well, quickly it became apparent that I will only have one post per team and that I may not reach back for every single one of them. But then, what order? Should I first tackle the teams present at EURO 2016? With which should I start? I really did not want to do the boring thing and run through the teams either alphabetically or by group. So, as a good statistician, I did what I gotta do: fire up the random number generator and let the computer determine a random order of all the League C teams. Yes, I will do League C first since soon there may be the small matter of the Asian Cup in January although the information there is still quite thin. When I saw that random order, I was actually quite excited about the first nation popping up since Slovenia has very unique kits that surely fire up my writing juices again. 🙂

Slovenia ha snot shown up a lot on this blog and on the one occasion it did, I absolutely slammed the effort put forth by Nike. And if you go back, I still dislike this jersey a lot. For the four shown here, I promise that I will really like at least one of these – a LOT! Let’s go chronologically and look at the jerseys Slovenia was wearing in their unsuccessful quest for a spot at the World Cup in Russia. For their home games, Slovenia donned these new creations:

Slovenia, definitely is out there again with their design and this time it stays somewhat outside of the re-design from 2012 and tries something totally new. Out with the white hoe kit and in with a light blue one with white accents – a lot of these. The top is actually the light blue with just a few dark blue accents (swoosh, crest outline, collar band). Then the Triglav band in white below which there is a very dense white pattern that reminds me of a goal net. It reminds me of the 2016 Turkey jerseys and it is similarly overbearing. At least this time there is enough space for the dark blue number on the front to be featured.

Since it is Slovenia and I know about their identity struggles concerning the national team’s colors, I am willing to close an eye or two in my rating. In fact without the net, this jersey would be quite interesting. It is also helped that this one is worn with white shorts which makes for an interesting gradient. Still, these are not very good.

My rating: 3/10 stars.

Maybe, the away jersey is better?

Not really! It is the same design with a dark green base and light green accents. The colors are reminiscent of Slovenia’s long standing green and white kits, but I thought these times were put behind us. Worse, I think the design works even less in these colors. While the goal net pattern in white had some sense to it (as goal nets are frequently white) in light green it looks just garish. Add the lime green pant and socks and it becomes simply too much. I even think that the white numbers are not very legible on that one.

Sorry, Slovenia, I would love to dish out better ratings, but this one is even worse!

My rating: 2/10 stars.

So, 2016 was another year with unique but rather questionable designs for the Slovenia jerseys. And seemingly the federation and Nike seemed to agree as the new set of Slovenia kits show a marked improvement:

This is definitely more like it! The home kits are back in white and this time we only get blue accents making for a simpler and more unified color scheme. But it is the Triglav that is the true star of this effort. Adding it in light blue and having it fade towards the bottom make a very strong statement but still keeping the shirt light. It is quite the best version of the pattern that I have seen so far. True, I wish the dark blue collar was no of the faux-shirt collar kind and the crest should only be the coat of arms, but this design is modern, unique and bold.

If there is one criticism it would be that the pattern is probably a tad too light. Also, a centered number would look better on here.

Still, this is superior to all the Slovenia home jerseys I have seen so far. Please, make this the base template for the future!

My rating: 9/10 stars.

Let’s hope that the away jersey is equally well executed:

Equal? No, this one is superior!!! Choosing a deep blue tone and pairing it with the light blue pattern is a slam dunk! It may not be in the national colors, but it looks super pleasing! It is a serene mountain scene against a blue sky and a lake on the front (if you are creative). The fade does remind me a bit of some of the Adidas efforts for the World Cup (see Germany, Belgium and Spain), so this seems to be a 2018 fad.

Note the light green taping that (like the light blue one of the home shirt) contains the Slovenia coat of arms and that the numbers are all applied in light green as well. While I like the colors, it makes the numbers a bit hard to read.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite jerseys featured in the Nations League – in fact it made the #2 spot in my recent Top 10 on this topic. For that reason, only high grades are in order. Too bad Slovenia got relegated – but at least they did so in style!

My rating: 10/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Wales (Away 2015-19)

Final post of the UEFA Nations League B jerseys. I totally enjoyed writing these, but after this post, I will need a short break. I already know that for Leagues C and D every nation will get their one post with all the home and away jerseys. It is just more efficient this way. Especially since we have not covered more than half of the nations left. Another reason why I want to take a shirt break from publishing is the fact that I want to update the EURO 2016 overview page, probably create a new Nations League overview page and a few more pages like that. After all, there is an Asian Cup coming up soon and a few other tournaments that I still have to make a page for (Africa Cup of Nations, Confed Cup, Copa America Centenario, …) As you can see, I have more ideas than time …

Wales, the big surprise package of EURO 2016. But before surprising almost everyone at that tournament, they needed to secure qualification. Well, they got off to a great start and as the campaign got rolling, Adidas swiftly issued a new set of kits (in time for Christmas). We already saw the very interesting home kit, so let’s have a look at the corresponding away one:

This kit marked a return to probably the most traditional away color of Wales. I did some research and to me yellow seems to be more of a historical accident than any national color (look at the flag!). Still over history, yellow was the most used one.

With that out of the way (we could talk a LOT about the Wales away colors – for now, I just provide this link), let’s look at the shirt which actually looks quite nice. You don’t see yellow with red accents too often on the national team stage. In this case, we have a red V-neck and a red chest band above which we have the main logos: the wonderful FAW crest and the Adidas equipment mark. As seen in the match pictures, there was no number on the front (a rarity these days), while on the back names and numbers were of course also in red. And the back contains probably the only odd feature: a red tail that does not wrap around. As you can see from the match pictures, it does create a very odd look.

There are many elements I like about this one, but I also gotta say it is not the best Wales away jersey ever. I would have liked to see some subtle green accents on here. The basic design with the chest stripe is one that I like a lot. The color scheme is OK, but a tad bland. And the tail stripe is a bit weird. Still, it is a nice shirt.

My rating: 7/10 stars.

Of course, with qualification secured the money machine had to be kept going and so a completely new look was unveiled:

To be frank, this was one of the more disappointing EURO 2016 shirts. Black has been used before but pairing it with grey hoops is already quite weird. It reminds me of that horrible 2008-09 France shirt. Obviously the shirt needed some color splash and that’s why the collar and all Adidas branding are in a neon yellow/green tone (I really cannot decide which one it actually is). I understand the need for a splash, but it causes two big problems: a) the crest is color-wise totally lost and b) the white numbers are also in total contrast to the remaining color scheme.

I think that if the accent color was chosen to be either green (bad contrast) or red, then this cold have resulted in a shirt with a better identity. White surely would also not have worked well and I’d rather see the numbers in the neon color. I guess, all I want to say is that the shirt did not deserve the exposure it got and should soon be forgotten.

My rating: 2/10 stars.

This horrid creation was worn a total of five times, but Wales did not manage a single match in those (most notably the EURO 2016 semifinal against Portugal). Of course the FAW realized that and managed to convince UEFA that wearing those kits away to Moldova for a crucial World Cup qualifying match would result in a bad color clash (red an black cannot mix!) and thus yellow kits needed to be issued just for that game. ANd so, these one-offs were released and Wales even managed a win!

The return to yellow surely was welcome, but why black accents? This downgrades an otherwise quite non-remarkable shirt. Use red or green and it stays within the country’s color scheme, but I guess these were just your regular stock kits and no other option was available. So, more or less a curiosity.

My rating: 4/10 stars.

The change away from the “unlucky” away kits obviously happened too late and Wales failed to qualify. And so – as with all the kits posted over the past weeks – we had to wait for a Nations League match-up in Denmark to admire the new away kits in a competitive game:

I know that tradition is not much on my side here and yes, this is another Condivo template appropriated to Wales, but these kits make soooo much sense! Look at the flag: white over green with a huge red dragon. So, use white shirts and green bottoms and you are halfway there. I would have loved a large (red) dragon on this shirt as they used to have on two occasions, but even having it only on the crest makes fir a really nice shirt. And despite the obvious template, this one just looks great to me as long as you overlook the font used for names and numbers. Yes, there could be a bit more excitement on this one (a huge large red dragon all over!), but this to me is a very sensible choice for a Wales away jersey. This is the best of the bunch here!

My rating: 8/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

Ireland (Home 2016-18)

To finish up League B, we stay on the British Islands and for this post, let’s not leave the island. At least, it won’t be as many jerseys as in the away jersey post (thanks to me covering them earlier), but still: another three jersey post. Enjoy!

So, somewhat surprisingly, Ireland contested the entirety of their EURO 2016 campaign in the same home shirt and only issued a new one once the tournament was actually reached. And it actually lived up to expectations:

Yes, the shirt has its quirks, but with this collar you are bound to look great! I just love how the orange from the flag was incorporated here. It also features as an outline of the numbers on the back, which is a really nice touch that unfortunately is not used on the front. And did I mention the great font?

The bright green base is just a beauty. We definitely can discuss the diagonal shadow striping, but it doesn’t bother me much. If there were no further feature, we are talking alltime great. However, Umbro needed to throw a wrench in there and decided to have white sides and underarms which are not of uniform width and some orange piping popping up around it. It is not a big issue, but it dies affect my rating slightly:

My rating: 8/10 stars.

Interestingly , these kits were worn almost throughout the entire 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. However, come Fall 2017 New Balance took over in the deciding phase of the qualifiers. Ireland did make it to the playoffs, but ultimately had to bow to a Denmark team playing out of tis mind in Dublin. And therefore, these shirts will live on a bit in infamy:

It is a bit of a pity, since those are perfectly fine kits. They don’t have the immediate elegance of its predecessor but scores high on the simplicity scale. Shadow stripes were retained, but they are vertical now and the overall color is a bit darker. I am also happy that the orange still features in form of flag trims on the crew neck and the sleeve cuffs. Also, the nice font was retained, which is a big plus.

It is not the boldest of shirts, but it is quite good and so bound for a high grade.

My rating: 8/10 stars.

But of course, after the World Cup a new shirt had to be issued for the Nations League featuring all the latest New Balance stylings:

And this is where it falls apart slightly. The new kit tries to dazzle, but it tries too much. First of all the all-over triangles are distracting at best and don’t really add any value. The orange has been limited to the weird shoulders as a very minor accents (as well as still outlining the numbers) and the white collar just looks grafted on there. Add to it the two-tone sleeves which make no rhyme or reason to me and this is a sub-par shirt in my opinion. What do I like. Well, the main green tone is nice and the font used for names and numbers is one of the best around. But that just isn’t enough …

My rating: 5/10 stars.

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Northern Ireland (Away 2015-19)

On Oct 26, I already covered all the Austria jerseys, so the only remaining team in Group B3 is Northern Ireland, where we add another three jersey post thanks to a brief period of issuing a new jersey every year.

Seemingly, the IFA wanted to emulate their southern neighbors and issue a new kit every year – starting in 2015. We already saw that the new 2015 kit was actually an improvement (at least to me), but what about the away kit which replaced a popular design?

Well, this kit is straight form the blue island? Wait, what? Blue??? OK, calm down, blue has been used before as an alternate color for Northern Ireland – especially as a very dark shade. And this is what makes this version a little odd. On the front it uses a half-half design (which is not present on the back) but only the proper right is the dark shade. Everything else (including the sleeves on both sides) has an almost royal blue base color – and I find it very strange. And then it uses the same meshed white accentuating as on the home shirt. While I liked it there, here it looks weird especially on the V-neck collar. The tail of the shirt is actually quite interesting as are the sleeve cuffs.

But I do have a hard time looking past the choice of color. If it was reversed, I think I would accept it more, but this one seems to lack a bit of Irish identity and in addition does actually not contrast very well with the home kit. By itself it is a decent shirt, but for Northern Ireland, I feel it is lacking.

My rating: 4/10 stars.

Now, upon release of the away shirt for EURO 2016, the Irish FA tweeted out “Better?” And while they meant in comparison to the EURO 2016 home shirt, it could well have been in reference to the previous away jersey. So, is it better?

A resounding yes! This is what I want to see. It is more or less the same design as the Bosnia 2016 Home jersey with white as base and green accents. And, I may add, it looks great! Unlike the Bosnia kit, though, I don’t think it is an all-time great design, but it is a very good one and it is a pity that we only saw it once at EURO 2016 (loss against Wales in the Round of 16). Maybe, I just don’t like how color wise the Celtic cross is a bit lost on there – but that is more a critique of the crest than the shirt itself, which is a great modern look for Northern Ireland.

My rating: 9/10 stars.

So, did the IFA learn a lesson from jersey-gate (yes, I made that one up from every angle)? Well, let’s look at the new away jersey that made its debut in October in a 1-0 loss to Austria:

Well, that one is a bummer! I think the only positive thing about this one is that the crest almost fits into the overall color-scheme. Almost, since the darker blue accents on this shirt (really only the stripes, collar outline and names and numbers) don’t match the color of the cross. But that is the lesser evil. The bigger is clearly the way too light blue. It makes the shirt look like baby boy romper, especially if you factor in the ever-present Condivo template (I don’t help dispelling this impression by using the children’s shirt above – but that was the only “nice” picture I could get). The overall kit is somewhat redeemed by being worn with dark shorts, but this one is just bad. Why not do this in light green? To me this is a big fail!

My rating: 2/10 stars.

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Bosnia & Herzegovina (Away 2016-19)

On to group B3 and the team that has won its first three games and will likely be promoted to League A.

Ever since Adidas took over the Zmajevi, their away kit did not get much love from the designers. Well, to be honest both World Cup kits were not all that great, but at least the home jersey  got some nice designs as of late. So, here are the past two away jerseys in all their template glory:

To be fair, templates are not always bad. But if you thought the 2016 Ukraine kits were custom-made, here is proof that a template was used. But you gotta give it Adidas that the pattern is broad and interesting enough to make it look like it was custom made. And yes, the cloth-like pattern is also the star of this shirt. If only it was also featured on the back for a more consistent look. I do however like the consistency of the color palette by using blue accents all over. Maybe using blue-yellow-blue for the shoulder stripes would have worked better, but I do like this. Just see how the blue from the crest is the same blue as anywhere else.

Yes, it is a template, but Ukraine already looked good in this one and so did Bosnia & Herzegovina.

My rating: 7/10 stars.

Now, regarding the most recent away jersey there were quite some rumors claiming that Adidas was about to drop Bosnia & Herzegovina right before the start of the Nations League. Given that the away jersey was still not released in September, there seemed to be good reason to believe these reports. However, once I saw the Zmajevi take the field in Belfast we were treated with these Adidas kits:

Bosnia 2018 Away

Seemingly, Adidas is staying on for just a bit longer, but the kits are again a template. And again this is not a bad template. Yes, these are the Morocco away shirts in blue, but here I am not disappointed by only using blue (yes, I do wonder about using yellow instead of white at the collar portion, but it may look way too odd. But paired with blue shorts this is quite a nice look and continues the long use of white with blue accents as the “traditional” away kit.

My rating: 7/10 stars.

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