With the group stage over, Euro 2016 moves to the knockout phase. There have been tales of good fortune and derring-do, mixed with no little heartbreak as well. This is where it gets serious, where it begins to matter. If that’s at all possible.
But what if the kits decided? What if the performance on the footballing catwalk was the key factor? Who would go through? We’ll tell you…
Switzerland v Poland
Two solid and unspectacular kits, rather like the teams, if we’re honest. The Swiss, with their stripes across the kit, is understated and a little bit different but it’s functional. Poland on the other hand, have swirls on the front of the shirt because, well, there’s no real reason for it, to be honest.
The Swiss kit isn’t bad but for us, the Poles take it because any white football shirt looks good worn casually. Well, nearly all of them.
Result: Switzerland lose to Poland in a close penalty shootout.
Wales v Northern Ireland
The battle of Britain. Not expected to be high quality on the pitch but of the two kits, Northern Ireland are edging this one. For no other reason than Adidas showed a touch more imagination. There’s nothing wrong with Wales kit, it’s a ‘classic’ football template of red shirt with white trim but the Irish have taken Arsenal’s 1982 away shirt and given it a bit of pizzazz with the blue and white band across the chest.
Combine that with the away kit and they edge it. simply on the grounds of imagination.
Result: Northern Ireland edge it in extra time.
Croatia v Portugal
I’m not a big fan of the Croatian top; it’s got something bistro about it. But it’s better than the blue away kit with its tonal blue chequer pattern. Had it been up against Portugal‘s home kit, it might be a close run thing but despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s tantrums being some of the funniest things about this tournament, Nike have come up with a winner in the green away shirt.
Not as deep green as they have used in the past for their home kits, it’s more of a sage shade. A wise choice given it provides the winning choice. Quite comfortably as well.
Result: Portugal win by virtue of being easier on the eye.
Hungary v Belgium
I am a fan of Hungarian football. Well, the 1950s version of it and there’s been some joy in watching them storm the barricades this summer. The tournament came alive with their 3 – 3 draw against Portugal. The red, white and green hasn’t been worn with such pride for a good number of years on the international stage.
But the Belgium away kit? Pffft; it’s a work of art. Mesmeric; befitting a nation whose highly talented team may be coming of age. Far better than the home kit which frankly is a bit of a dog’s dinner. Adidas redeemed themselves with this one, reminiscent of the early 1970s kit.
Result: All over by half-time, Belgium through with a touch of swagger.
Germany v Slovakia
Germans who remember the 1974 World Cup might have a shiver run down their spine. The Slovakian kit reminds us of the kit the East German’s wore during their only competitive meeting with the West. Jurgen Sparwasser’s goal separated the two nations that night in Hamburg.
It’s hard to envisage the same outcome this time. Adidas produced a genuine classic kit for Germany; simple, understated yet magnificent. Goodness knows what Puma were doing with Slovakia’s away shirt. The tonal lines are all over the place which if the Slovak defence is the same, will lead to carnage on the pitch.
Result: Germany romp home.
Italy v Spain
It’s hard to choose between two such classic kits. The Azzurri, imperious with their royal blue and La Furia Roja, with their footballing sophistication; two astonishingly beautiful countries, two aesthetically pleasing kits. We can’t choose; it’s a penalty shootout which will last through the night. In the end though, it’s the Italians; no other reason than this summer, it’s someone else’s turn to win!
Result: Italy win on the toss of a coin.
France v Republic of Ireland
There’s something of an international rescue going on for Nike’s template this summer. The French arrived and looked FAB when they strode onto to the pitch for the opening match. If their home kit is outstanding, the away kit was astonishing: who knew the Nike template could look that good?
Which is a pity for the Galway side of the family because Umbro came up with a decent Irish shirt; a little bit retro with the tonal green diagonal stripes. It’s nice but not enough.
Result: France are in cruise control.
England v Iceland
Iceland, with their Escape to Victory inspired kit design, called on their inner-Stallone for the last group game against Austria and duly found the last-kick winner. In the distant past, the Vikings rampaged across England and this summer is a reminder of those good old days: the Icelandic kit wipes the floor with Nike’s template. It’s painful viewing for the English, to be sure.
Result: Iceland win without much English defence
And that’s it. The draw is made, the tension is building and the kits have spoken.