The Expert (Trevor Williams): With the Uruguayans not having won the World Cup since their stunning upset of Brazil in 1950, this would be a perfect time for a retro kit. Instead, Puma has paid lip service to history and tinkered with the uniforms by adding piping, sleeve details, sun rays around the crest and gold as a tertiary color. At least it beats the sunbursts and abortive gold shirt from 2010.
The Novice (Paul Lukas): The more of these Puma kits I see, the more depressing these repeated elements become. The torso piping, the partial sleeve stripes, the tire tracks -- enough! And let's hope they never wear these black socks. On the plus side, the collar on the home shirt is very sharp, and I like the way the sunburst on the crest mimics the Uruguayan flag.
15. Ivory Coast
The Expert: Ivory Coast is once again going with solid-color kits -- disappointing, because it'd be better off with contrasting shorts. Meanwhile, the shirts would look better if the pattern on the shoulders spread to the sleeves instead of the armpits.
The Novice: A Puma kit without the vertical torso stripes -- stop the presses! But the tire tracks are still there, and what's the deal with the underarm pattern? Like, are they angling for a deodorant sponsorship or what?
The Expert: The Iranians were into the monochromatic look long before it became popular, wearing solid-white home and solid-red away kits for their previous three World Cup appearances. They're continuing this trend in 2014, this time with some interesting asymmetrical designs. Unlike Belgium's kitchsy crown watermark, Iran's watermarked cheetah does a good job of raising awareness about this critically endangered animal.
The Novice: Can't decide if the cheetah looks really cool or really silly (maybe a bit of both). Either way, it's startling to see a uni-related animal that isn't snarling, gritting its teeth or furrowing its brow. Also: Love the simple color blocking on the home shirt.
The Expert: While Ghana's soccer history has been colorful, the Black Stars have worn conservative white home kits at the World Cup. They continue to take a measured approach in 2014, with the Kente-patterned collar and sleeve detailing adding small but effective elements of visual interest. The away kit works well by having the pattern assimilated into the uniform in a low-key way, much like Cameroon's away kit, instead of being conspicuous like Cameroon's home one.
The Novice: Love the Kente details on the home. Not a fan of the full-body pattern on the away, though -- less would have been more.
The Expert: Honduras' 2014 kits are a major improvement over its 2010 World Cup uniforms. The block "H," which has been used on and for the past several decades, has been brought back. Unfortunately, Joma has added the word "Honduras" and five stars from the Honduran flag into the H, which clutters the crest. Stars should be reserved for championships and look out of place otherwise.
The Novice: Waaaay too plain. Unless you already know what the H stands for, you'd think these shirts are for Team Joma. I do like the subtle horizontal stripes on the away design, though.
The Expert: These kits prove that Puma can create a splendid design without resorting to irrelevant flourishes. The reason Algeria isn't ranked higher is because it would look better with contrasting colors instead of the monochromatic format it'll be using. And as you can see in that last photo link, the goalie shirt, based on the standard Puma template, is atrocious.
The Novice: Oooh, that's nice. Really love the contrast of the pale green and the red on the crest. Agree with the Expert that contrasting shorts would be better than the solid-color look, but whaddaya gonna do.
The Expert: For the first time since 1930, Argentina will not wear black shorts in World Cup competition. It's going with white at home and blue for away. Reaction to this has been surprisingly muted, maybe because fans are more unhappy about the crest no longer being embroidered. The home shirt matches well with the white shorts, but the black shoulder striping and collar don't. Inexplicably, the away shirt's gradient striping pattern is not symmetrical, which ruins the effect. With a few tweaks, Argentina could have been one of the best-dressed teams in the World Cup.
The Novice: I may not know anything about soccer, but I know what I like, and I like both of these designs -- a lot. One quibble, though: The shirt designs are already extremely stripe-heavy, so adidas' gratuitous triple-striping across the shoulders makes the whole package feel overly stripe-ified.
The Expert: Like Argentina, Germany has traded its traditional black shorts for white. Many fans are upset about this (one of them came up with this black-shorted concept, which is much better), and there have also been complaints about the home shirt evoking other teams, Imperial Germany's flag and a malt beverage. The away shirt is clearly inspired by the Brazilian club team Flamengo, but has been compared to Freddy Krueger. It might not matter, because Germany didn't even wear its away kit in World Cup 2006, Euro 2008 or Euro 2012, despite wearing the away in qualifying and friendlies. Even with all this criticism, Germany still looks better than most World Cup nations.
The Novice: Oh man, that home kit is a thing of beauty -- the shirt, the shorts, the socks, the works. A+++! Not as fond of the away, which has virtually no visual connection to the home. But like the Expert says, maybe they won't even bother to wear it, which would be addition by subtraction.