Manche Dieu!

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We will admit to some trepidation ahead of what is a post focusing mainly on Nike sleeve designs, given that this tweet last year prompted one user to speculate that the person in charge of the account was a sex-offender:

Nevertheless, here goes – during the France-Andorra game last night (September 10), we noticed something peculiar with Antoine Griezmann’s shirt. The attacker is a rarity in the modern game in that he prefers to wear long sleeves, but what stood out was the fact that the zig-zag pattern stopped mid-forearm:

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It seemed different what had been the case previously and we checked images from the 2018 World Cup to make sure that this wasn’t always the case. Sure enough, back then the pattern stopped above the hem.

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As pointed out by Jay from Design Football, the key difference is that, after the World Cup, an extra star was added above the crest and that could explain things. Sure enough, in the autumn of 2018, with their new batch of shirts France only wore short sleeves, with Griezmann wearing a baselayer against the Netherlands and Germany in the Nations League. Then, when he had long sleeves again in the return game against Germany, it was the newer style with the shorter pattern.

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It’s the not the first time that France’s sleeves have been the source of our curiosity. Back in 2016, Nike launched a white change shirt with one blue sleeve and one red one. It was worn in a friendly against the Netherlands that March – incidentally, quite a few players wore long sleeves as France didn’t have dual-sleeved baselayers.

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However, Uefa wouldn’t allow it for Euro 2016 and so against Switzerland a version with the tones reduced almost to white was used.

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This then became the second kit for the European Championship qualifiers – including another trip to the Netherlands – and the alternate-sleeved shirt wasn’t seen again.

However, in 2011, for their first France kit, Nike had something planned up their sleeves – literally, in the form of red trim, made visible by folding over the cuffs.

Was the decision to have red on the sleeves influenced by the 1986-89 shirt? We’ll never know, but that strip also bore an oddity. On the short-sleeved version, there were red and white stripes around the arm, but on the long sleeves – as against Arsenal at Highbury in 1989 – the white stripe was absent. Perhaps it was classed as a cuff, but if so, the long-sleeve cuff should then have been white but instead it was blue.

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