While the main competition in Brazil might be between the heavyweight countries attempting to bring home soccer’s biggest title, those of us knee-deep in the equipment world know that there is more competition in Brazil than which country is the winner after 90 minutes. After massive boot releases and a tournament completely full of new and exciting equipment, it is time to see which BRAND will walk away from Brazil as a winner.
This list will be based on the releases, the quality of the boots (we have been testing all of them), and the presence that the brand made in Brazil.
OUT IN THE GROUP STAGE:
Under Armour: While we absolutely LOVED the ClutchFit and are looking forward to seeing what the American brand will continue to do (they continue to consistently improve), their boot suffered a quick exit from this Cup. However, Under Armour’s willingness to custom color a boot for a player depending on his country is impressive…they missed out on goal differential (just kidding).
Umbro: While Umbro are still certainly growing back into the market, the UX-1 has been immensely impressive and Umbro are definitely making a bit of a comeback. Their presence will be increasing with some of their kit sponsorship deals coming around in the fall (i.e. Everton), but the basic truth is that Umbro were relatively non-existent at this World Cup. A custom GeoFlare was nice within the Chilean ranks, but it was seldom seen. We are excited about the rebirth of Umbro, but Brazil will not be the big step the brand would have been hoping to make.
OUT IN THE ROUND OF 16:
Warrior: The only thing that got Mizuno to the quarters instead of Warrior would be the quality of the boots during testing. However, Warrior are only a major nation’s kit sponsorship away from being a fairly big presence in Brazil. Deep runs with Belgium stars Kompany and Fellaini and super goals from Tim Cahill will only help propel the American brand’s success while, even for such a young soccer brand, they have been able to juggle multiple silos with quality. By Russia 2018, Warrior feel the most likely to be challenging the “big three.”
OUT IN THE QUARTER-FINAL:
Mizuno: Yes, they made it to the semi-final with Hulk, but the vast majority of Mizuno players were sent packing after the group stage. The thing that got them to the quarters? Amazing quality with the Neo and Wave Ignitus III. During testing, these boots have impressed greatly and we fully expect their entrance to the U.S. to be met with great success. The only thing keeping them from the semi-finals is the lack of World Cup press and advertising from the brand…(but we still love them).
OUT IN THE SEMI-FINAL:
Puma: The mismatched boot combo is still something that we are finding absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. Every Puma silo at the Cup has fantastic quality and we would be hard pressed to say anything negative about Puma’s presence in Brazil outside of how much smaller their footprint felt than Nike/adidas. While the Puma kits might not suit someone (especially bigger “someones”) that is just hoping to sport a kit for fun, the look of them on a player makes the professionals look impressive. Considering how Puma is already placing emphasis on the upcoming Arsenal deal shows that their priority is no longer Brazil based. Cannot wait to see what Puma does in the next few months.
Nike: While everyone here at The Instep believes that Nike’s boots are some of the best of the bunch in Brazil in terms of quality (just check out Jordon’s Obra review and Hunter’s Opus review), the reason that Nike is not walking away with the WC title is in their presence at the final. Ronaldo got knocked out in the group, Neymar got injured before the semi, and there will not be a single Nike kit on show at the Final on Sunday. We preferred Nike’s ads, the Nike colorways, and the French away kit/U.S.A kits are fantastic, but the simple fact is Nike missed out on the one thing that every “team” needs at a World Cup…luck. It also hurts a bit that the two biggest Nike silos at the Cup feel split into two MORE silos…the Mercurial players being split in the Superfly and Vapor and the Magista players being split in the Obra and Opus will have prospective customers undecided on what to snag for their upcoming seasons. So close for Nike…so close…
Adidas: While the battle pack colorway still feels like it missed the mark a bit, there can be no denying that adidas is the biggest winner once the final is played on Sunday. Argentina and Germany will be wearing adidas kits, Messi is still allowing adidas to have their biggest marketing piece in place, the adidas Brazuca being played across the pitch, the awards handed out after the final will be gold/silver/bronze adidas products, the three players that are most likely to win the golden boot are adidas players (Messi/Robben/Muller), and plenty of adidas boots placed all across the pitch. The Nitro is still one of our favorite boots and it still feels like adidas could have done MORE advertising and product placement (especially with the new Predator). Nike was the favorite, but adidas are bringing home the silverware.
Do you agree with our assessment of how the brands have done at the World Cup? Is this how you expected the Cup to turn out? Which brand surprised you the most and which brand disappointed you the most? How will this look different at 2018?