First off, let me start by pouring some out for the unfortunate teams who didn't get invited to the party. Don't feel too bad though, they came out with new kits too! So, in honor of these teams, let's start off with some of the ones you won't see in Brasil.
- Wales (Away) - This is the kit you won't be seeing newly-minted European champion Gareth Bale wearing. And here is the home kit which you will be seeing Gareth Bale wearing, but only if you clicked that link.
Poland (Home) - A simple, yet clean and stylish look for the Lewandowski, Blaszczykowski, and other difficult
ski-ly named Polish boys. The away version is a simple inverse of colors, but it remains a nice jersey to sit on your couch and watch the games in.
- Czech Republic (Home) - As you'll find out later, I'm pretty disappointed with how most of the Puma kits turned out. This one is more enjoyable, if unspectacular. I love the lion graphic, however that's the only standout Cech-mark (I had to) this one gets.
- Turkey (Home) - Like the Poland jerseys, Turkey's home and away kits are similar but well done in their own right. It has the traditional Turkish Cintamani pattern motif, which apparently IS a real thing and not just something they made up for Uncharted 2. And as traditional heritage patterns go, it could be much worse (looking at you, gingham).
And now to the main event
The setup is the same as the World Cup tournament itself, with each country in their respective group. I will first show which teams got eliminated in the group stage. Then we will see who made it to the knockout rounds, and who progresses from there. The primary criteria was home kits, but sometimes I used away kits (or both) as I saw fit. Whatever I felt would be a better representation of a country's style.
Eliminated in the Group Stage:
Cameroon - In the past I've really enjoyed what Puma does with the African teams' kits. I can't say the same with this home jersey. A little too busy for my taste, although I do quite like the away kit. In another group the latter might have been able to push them through.
Mexico - The home and away jerseys for Mexico aren't bad per se, I'm just not very fond of them. The lightning bolts don't flow into the arm stripes very well, making it awkward looking. It was a rare creative leap of faith for Adidas this go around, but it fell just short. I anticipate this will be one of the few times people disagree with my rankings. Oh well, it's my breakdown not yours.
Chile - Another early exit for a Puma sponsored kit. The home kit is decent, but a strong group made it hard to get through. I like the collar, but the white part on the front of the neck is a little odd. The away jersey is a bit plain, although I do like the blue bit inside the red-lined neck. Their previous kit is superior.
Spain - Big surprise seeing the defending World Cup and Euro champions out so early, crashing out in the group stage. While I like the red and gold combo of the home jersey, the away one is not so aesthetically pleasing. In this World Cup Spain will wear red shorts with the home kit, instead of the traditional blue. Also, Spain were instructed to include a white third kit to offer more of a contrast with the Netherlands.
Colombia - This decision took me the longest, at least in the group stage. I originally had Colombia going through, but changed my mind to allow Japan to progress. The home jersey is decent, although I would've liked the overall kit better had they been allowed to wear their customary blue shorts and red socks. I like the dark blue contrast with the away, but the look is too adidas template-y for me.
Côte d'Ivoire - Côte d'Ivoire usually has some of my favorite kits around. Sadly, Puma left me disappointed again (sensing a trend?). This year's editions are not bad, they're just really plain. I must admit I'm a much bigger fan of 2010's. Speaking of past World Cup jerseys, here's a handy interactive guide that shows you all the current teams' past kits.
Costa Rica - The first of only five teams that don't have Nike, Adidas, or Puma kits. At first glance, I wasn't too fond of these. But the more and more I looked, the better I liked them (I blame this picture). Quick, let's move along before I have to change everything around again.
Uruguay - Puma...Puma...Puma...You used to have commercials that made me laugh, now you have jerseys that make me cry. Well, not really, but they are a bit underwhelming especially for a team that boasts the firepower of Suarez, Cavani and co.
Switzerland - Pretty standard Puma look from the home and away kits of the Swiss. They're pretty nice (I like the cross on the home), but a tough group saw them on the outside looking in. Side note: The Swiss badge bugs me. I wish they'd push the bottom over so that it'd be a nice circle.
Honduras - Joma love putting that giant H on their kit. But I don't.
USA - I originally had them through. But as always Ghana was there to sneak ahead, much to the chagrin of the US fans. The home looks like a golf polo, and the away looks like a rocket pop. But rocket pops are delicious! Surely that means the US should go through? No? Okay...
Russia - Let me start by saying I don't like the away. I like the burgundy and gold color combo of the home though, and the Russian flag detail on the triceps. What I don't like, however, is the watermark of the 'Kosmonauts Museum' in Moscow to honor the Russian space program. Suck it, Sputnik.
Algeria - Puma should open up a candy store, because they're full of disappoint mints. That joke was terrible. Almost as terrible as Algeria's two strips this summer. I feel like so much more could've been done with the mint green and red combo.
Croatia (A1) vs Australia (B2)
Perhaps a surprise winner in Group A, Croatia pushed past Brazil with a nice looking pair. The only detail I'm not too fond of is the red box outlining the number, but otherwise this kit is classic Croatia. And speaking of surprises, Australia found themselves ahead of the reigning champs with a classic double of their own. And while the Aussies' is similar to a former Brazilian kit, this one steps out on it's own. It was close but Australia wins in ET.
Netherlands (B1) vs Brazil (A2)
Greece (C1) vs England (D2)
Traditional. Bland. Lacking creativity. Sounds pretty English, innit? It's a good thing they're going against Greece right? Wrong. This home and away tandem is pretty stylish despite being simple. Instead of being, well, just simple. Greece wins by photo shoot.
Italy (D1) vs Japan (C2)
Italy's kit seems like the only one Puma put any effort into. And it still came with side abdominal slits. But hey beggars can't be choosers. Now Japan on the other hand, almost didn't make it this far. Their kit was one that grew on me. I can appreciate the rising sun detail behind the badge, but the stripe on the back looks like someone didn't read the "Wet Paint" sign before leaning coolly against the wall. To be honest, I like Japan's keeper kit more than the home or away. Italy wins by Balotelli.
France (E1) vs Iran (F2)
Iran narrowly edged Bosnia and Herzegovina with their unique away kit. I like the red/green combo, the unorthodox thin green rectangles, and of course the Iranian cheetah graphic. Their white jersey isn't bad either. But this was never a contest. France wins by guillotine.
Argentina (F1) vs Ecuador (E2)
Ecuador is the second straight team to go through with a non-big three kit manufacturer. The home and away are palette-swaps, and good ones at that. Argentina's kits have a new twist on a classic style, and one that I quite enjoy. The gold trim plays nicely with the black accents, and the stripes look very modern with the light slashes through the middle. Argentina progresses 2-0.
Germany (G1) vs Belgium (H2)
This matchup probably won't happen in real life, but in this edition one of the favorites meets a dark horse. Burrda created a simpler, sleeker home kit this time, one that I think looks better on the players. I'm still not sure if I like it more than their previous one, but it's pretty good nonetheless. Belgium are also one of only three teams with three kits. Germany have a very nice home kit, and a solid away. However, Germany are the 4th Adidas club that will move away from tradition, as they won't be wearing their black shorts for the first time. But in any case, they take the dark horses behind the shed. Germany by blitzkrieg.
South Korea (H1) vs Ghana (G2)
As I mentioned before, Ghana pipped the US (again). Their home is decent with the standard African team shoulder designs, and their away incorporates their nickname as well as star imagery. The Korean home kit is pretty straightforward but it's the away kit that really grabs me. I love the dual-colored shoulders, and corresponding coloring on the neck trim. The blue badge also jumps off the white background. Love it. South Korea by kimchi diarrhea.
Australia vs Greece
This was probably my hardest decision overall. I was trying hard to find a tie-breaker, to the point where I almost flipped a coin. In a narrow, narrow battle Greece makes it to the semis.
France vs Germany
Netherlands vs Italy
Argentina vs South Korea
Greece vs France
Netherlands vs South Korea
I appreciate these kits for different reasons. The Korean away kit has subtle details that shine. The Netherlands kit has a simple beauty. Only one can make it to the all-Nike final. And the Dutch Masters rise again.
Greece vs South Korea
I dislike the Greek team. But I have to admit they have some very nice kits. And normally I might go with them for 3rd place on looks alone, I appreciate the subtle innovation of the Korean kit. South Korea by a finely-coiffed hair.
France vs Netherlands
I knew going into this that these were the two best looking kits. And it just so happened that they ended up on opposite ends of the draw. One has an unmatched elegance, the other an impeccable radiance. The away's for both sides have a certain appeal as well. Can the lion hearts of the Dutch match up with the boys in bleu? Not quite. The French strips have the perfect blend of vintage influence mixed with modern style that remains untouched by any other kit this summer. That's what happens when you don't bring Marco van Ginkel, Louis.