France (Home 2011-18)

In many ways this is the easiest post to write. Why? Well, since 2012 I have pretty much covered all France jerseys. So, I only really have to cover the very first Nike jersey and provide links (and pictures) to the other ones. But yes, for completeness’ sake, here we go:In many ways this is the easiest post to write. Why? Well, since 2012 I have pretty much covered all France jerseys. So, I only really have to cover the very first Nike jersey and provide links (and pictures) to the other ones. But yes, for completeness’ sake, here we go:

Well, when Nike took over in 2011, the French national team was at its lowest point since 1994. Raymond Domenech was swiftly let go and Laurent Blanc, a figure head for the 1998 and 2000 teams took over the coaching reigns. And at first quite successfully. Was it due to a new spirit thanks to a record breaking kit deal? Yes, at the time the French national team got the most expensive supplier deal of all time and of course that meant lots of custom-made kits. Here is their first try at the famous blue shirt:

And before going deeper into my critique, I found an interesting video where the designer explains the motivation behind all the features of this shirt:

So, there is lots to digest, but I guess first I have to give you my personal first impression: disappointment as the shade of blue did not connect with my idea of what a France shirt should look like. Too little radiant, too dull, too jeans-like (turns out denim is actually from France, but more on that later). However, when I saw this one in action on its debut against Brazil, it did make a much better impression and I have to say, this shirt has grown on me over the years.

First off, you need to see in it in context with the other national team soccer shirts of the time and of course in comparison to previous France jerseys. This jersey introduced a completely new look that actually had little to do with soccer shirts of the time. These days, the shirt would not look too much out of place as many manufacturers have followed this style, but at the time this was different. In many ways it seemed to be suited for anything bu playing soccer.

The video above really does a good job in putting everything in perspective and my take away was that Nike wanted to give the players many options to express themselves with that shirt. Interestingly enough, that generation caused already so much of a stir that seemingly no-one took advantage of all these features. The few times I have seen this shirt in action, there wasn’t a single player using the red cuffs for example.

So, the shade of blue was unusual, but I was willing to look past that. However, I really did not like that the collar was much darker and more a rugby style collar. Hiding away the red was also a tough pill to swallow and this is actually the last time, les Bleus had at least the option to show off a bit of red. Ignoring red in favor of two tones of blue starts right here. I think a white collar and red side stripes would have made a better kit, but not one that would be as fashionable, I guess.

The new crest in white I actually did not mind at all. It makes sense overall and reducing the number if colors is often a plus. Just don’t sub out red for dark blue …

The back is curious as it already introduces the hooped pattern that was the hallmark of the early Nike years. As far as I can tell this feature was only available on the player issue shirts. Another improvement was the simple sans-serif font for names and numbers. Only the non-solid form of the numbers is a bit questionable but that was also a Nike hallmark of the time.

Yes, in hindsight and in light of what was to come this shirt looks a lot better now than it did back then. Actually, I would not mind owning one. It set the tone of what was to come in a similar way as the Italy 2000 shirt was revolutionary. Well, maybe not quite as influential, but this and the England 2010 shirt were the first ones that tried to be really fashionable and to be worn anywhere. Whether you like it or not that’s where the industry ended up going and the fact. that national teams do not have a sponsor facilitated that move. From my perspective, I can find numerous places to improve this one, but it is actually quite nice. And for that reason:

My rating: 7/10 stars.

And from here on, I have written posts about all the other Nike jerseys. Still, it is probably a good idea to at least re-post the images and quickly summarize the shirts before sending you to the dedicated post.

The 2011 shirt was used for the remainder of the EURO 2012 qualifying campaign, where les Blancs (a sweet pun on the nickname of the team and coach Laurent Blanc) managed to top the group despite some early trouble.

Since the 2011 shirt had just been introduced I thought that Nike might resist the temptation to issue a new France jersey just a year later. And as with other Nike shirts for EURO 2012 they left it almost up until the last minute (that is May) until the new jerseys were introduced. And what Nike introduced for France was in my opinion one of the worst France jerseys ever – but yes, you could wear it well with jeans and for leisure!

You can read my full review here (one of my first ever posts), but suffice it to say, I was not very kind.

My rating: 2/10 stars.

The team again managed to underwhelm in Ukraine. Having secured safe passage to the quarterfinals thanks to a win in a storm-delayed match against the co-hosts Ukraine, the team took it way too easy and threw away the group win with a loss to Sweden (amazing goal by Zlatan BTW). So, instead of Italy, les Bleus had to play Spain and basically never saw the ball. And then, Samir Nasri had a go at the journalists, everyone saw the squad lacking team spirit and Lauren Blanc resigned. Thus, the reign of Didier Deschamps began.

And it began well, but then got in some rough waters. While they managed an away draw in World Cup qualifying to holders Spain, they could not manage the same at home and Spain won the group comfortably. France had to go to Ukraine again into a play-off. And it could not have gone worse: les Bleus lost 2-0 and fans around the world got comfortable with the Grande Nation not being present in Brazil. However, they miraculously turned things around in Paris and qualified for Brazil in a 3-0 return (admittedly with some dodgy refereeing in their favor). And right after that win, the new jersey for that World Cup got released and boy was it a beauty:

This one took the 2011 shirt and corrected it into all the right directions. The updated (old) cockerel crest was a sight to behold and the only immediate gripes were the lack of red and possibly the too dark shade of blue. However, the shade is a proper one as it is a) one of the two shades from the French flag and b) recalls the tissue de Nimes (or denim). I still regret not getting this one four years ago!

Here is what I wrote prior to the 2014 World Cup. Of course this is:

My rating: 10/10 stars.

Somewhat unexpectedly, France did quite well at the World Cup. They easily topped the group and played great in 5-2 battering of Switzerland. Young players like Griezmann and Pogba made their mark on the team and they made it all the way to the quarters. There they just ran into Germany, who were a much better team. Ever since Mats Hummels scored the opening goal, there really was only one way this match was going. Germany would win it all, but France made a definite mark on the tournament and hopes were high for EURO 2016 at home.

However, in the run-up to the tournament on home soil, the team again fell out of public favor thanks to a blackmailing affair affair which cost Karim Benzema his spot in the EURO 2016 squad. Still, the squad for the tournament on home soil was so loaded that it seemed inevitable that France would be a serious contender. The squad struggled initially, but once they hit their stride by turning around a their round of 16 game against Ireland, they were a joy to watch. After slaying the dragon that is Germany, who thought that they would lose their final at home to Portugal…

Well, as you may already know, the better shirt won that evening for sure as the 2016 France kit was quite a letdown:

There were a few things to like here: the royal blue and the retained cockerel crest. However, it got all lost in a bad template that favored black over red for no good reason (well if you read my post, there is a little bit of red there, but you are not really seeing it). This is the 2011 kit driven to its worst extreme. Again, the color an the crest slightly redeem it, but what a missed chance to give us a true France kit albeit in a boring template.

My rating: 4/10 stars.

Well, the kit might have been less than perfect, but France was top of the world again. Qualification for Russia in a tough group with the Netherlands, Sweden and Bulgaria was not entirely straightforward, but in the end the top spot was secured and France again entered the tournament in the wider circle of favorites. In the end they only shone for maybe 45 minutes against Argentina, but otherwise put in very solid but clearly restrained performances that proved that they were the best team in Russia without even trying very hard. And fortunately, Nike made up for the 2016 miss by issuing another good-looking kit:

While not as great looking as the 2014 kit, I always liked the light blue accents on the navy shirt. We can discuss the plain and a bit awkward collar, but this one is overall a winner. And I am very proud to say that this is the only shirt I got ahead of the 2018 World Cup … and it ended up being the winner’s shirt. So, this one is quite high up in my collection. It is even the first shirt that I reviewed on my channel:

I guess, I have to re-do this one. 🙂

My rating: 8/10 stars.

How would you rate these shirts?

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