The new season is but a breath away and plenty of the home, away and third kits that will be worn across Europe’s top club in 2022-23 have been shown off to the world during the summer tours. These shirts range from the classy — see Arsenal’s simple, yet well-executed home kit — to the downright nasty — yes, Tottenham, we’re looking at you — how can your away kit be both bland and barf-inducing ?
But what often get overlooked are the gaudy offerings that teams don for their warm-ups in the run-up to kick-off. These often don’t get much airtime on the TV, featuring only fleetingly as graphics showing the team news are displayed over images of players going through their prematch paces.
This gives designers at the world’s most renowned sports brands an opportunity to run wild and present us with a selection of fashion disasters, the like of which we haven’t seen since ex-Liverpool legends Robbie Fowler, Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman and Co. popped on those infamous white suits ahead of the 1996 FA Cup final. They thought we wouldn’t notice, but nothing gets past us.
It’s time to put on our sunglasses for protection against offensive color combinations and analyze the weirdest, wildest and plain worst prematch apparel that star players at Europe’s biggest clubs have to endure as they undertake their warm-up drills.
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To kick us off we have Arsenal, who are yet to officially release a prematch kit and, judging by the “leaked” images, they are right to be hesitant. This is a monstrosity, a lairy piece of abstract art that would have Henri Matisse rolling in his grave. The geometric design is loud, the colors are clashing, the vibes are off (even with the hint to the classic “bruised banana” kit so beloved by Arsenal fans). This won’t be the last you see of this Adidas template, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
This one isn’t that bad. It looks like a gentle sea lapping against the shore, which gives a new meaning to the term “wavey garms.” Like the collar of new home kit, the pattern is actually formed from the constituent parts of the club’s badge.
Another surprisingly decent offering here. Liverpool have gone for some intricate detailing in a deeper, richer red which makes this kit look, dare we say it, almost regal.
Manchester City (Puma)
Hang on a minute: maybe clubs are getting classier this season? Described as a “vibrant grid design combined with sharp edges,” this blue-and-white number is rather fine, as is the black-and-grey version.
Manchester United (Adidas)
Oh no, never mind. Normal service resumes as Manchester United offer us their version of the Adidas template. Perhaps United fans weren’t actually booing Harry Maguire in preseason, but instead aiming their ire at this abomination that United describe as “a collision of club colors and a classic Adidas design.”
Tottenham Hotspur (Nike)
There’s no easy way to say this: the Spurs prematch shirt looks like it’s been sewn together using the waistbands of discarded boxer shorts. The Spurs website says: “This striking blue graphic design has been finished with our historic Spurs cockerel crest … to let everyone know which team you support.” Thanks for that, I wouldn’t have been able to guess you were a Spurs fan given that it’s only written 100 times in tacky font across the whole jersey.
Atletico Madrid (Nike)
🚨| LEAKED: Atlético Madrid’s Pre-Match Shirt for 2022-23 👕
— Atletico Universe (@atletiuniverse) June 30, 2022
Atletico’s prematch shirt — which is on sale but is yet to be officially unveiled — is something a bit different; it looks a bit like the comic-strip montage at the start of a Marvel movie. In fact, the design features a red background with black illustrations of locations closely associated with the club’s history: their former home of the Estadio Vincente Calderon, their new Metropolitano stadium and the place where they celebrate their titles, the Neptune Fountain.
In the classic blaugrana of Barca, this warm-up kit looks like a really tricky maze that will draw you deeper into its depths with the way out no longer in sight, a bit like the current financial situation at the club.
Real Madrid (Adidas)
Bored of the Adidas template now, but this is probably the classiest and cleanest version of them all. Just like their playing style, Real Madrid know how to get the job done.
Bayern Munich (Adidas)
For now at least, Bayern appear to be content with warming up in the same shirts they wear for training. Which, like the design of the jerseys themselves, is far too sensible to be of interest for the purposes of this exercise.
Borussia Dortmund (Puma)
This Puma number uses the same template as Manchester City’s, but the black-and-yellow of BVB adds another layer of zing to a design that already has plenty of it. They may have lost the battle for Erling Haaland, but they’ve won the war of best warm-up top. According to Dortmund, “each prematch shirt has its own pattern that differs from other shirts.” Huge if true.
AC Milan (Puma)
This is another Puma offering and you’ll see a pattern is emerging — literally. Milan’s is slightly better than Man City’s version and slightly worse than Dortmund’s. But at least they are all an improvement on the drab template used for the third kits of those clubs last season.
Inter Milan (Nike)
Inter couldn’t get much worse than their 2021-22 jersey, which looked like someone had turned the concept of soil erosion into a t-shirt.
Fortunately they’ve actually come back with a pretty impressive number. It’s aesthetically not that bad with the different shades of blue, across asymmetric patterns working quite nicely. It’s inspired by the name of the club FC Internazionale which, when founded in 1908, took on this title to demonstrate that they accepted international players as much as Italian players. The flags on the shirt represent this multiculturalism, which is pretty cool.
This Adidas number — is is being worn prematch but is yet to be available to buy — is almost exactly the same as the Man United shirt but Juventus have chosen better colors. Will the same be said of a certain flamboyant midfielder who’s arrived in Turin this season?
Paris Saint-Germain (Jordan)
As PSG enter their fourth year collaborating with the Jordan brand, this prematch jersey is more of what we’ve come to expect. The crossover of football and basketball aesthetics comes together in this cool two-tone number that probably isn’t a fitting end to this list in that it’s actually very understated and nice, unlike that mad PSG frontline.