By Rob Carey
Tonight, Liverpool and Atlético Madrid go head to head in their Champions League round of 16 second leg at Anfield.
The visitors have a one-goal lead and will wear their black third kit as they look to reach the quarter-finals – though some would prefer the greater clarity offered by the light-blue strip. Technically, Liverpool are in their ‘fourth kit’ – but that just means their home kit with solid red socks.
Liverpool conceded early in the first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano and were then frustrated by some flamboyant play-acting, both on the pitch and on the sidelines, led by Diego Simeone. With Champions League fans all asking themselves who will get the job done at Anfield, we thought we’d take a different approach and ask jersey aficionados who would win were fashion and style the only deciding factors. Liverpool and Atletico kits go head-to-head!
While it’s fun to play this game of deciding which club reigns supreme when it comes to kits, there is of course the equally serious business of a Champions League second leg to predict. Shirts, shorts and socks aside, who do you think will make it to the last eight?
The Case for Liverpool
The Reds have had some belters over the years, helped by players like John Barnes making anything look effortlessly cool. The adidas stripes slung over his shoulder on the 199193 home kit were glorious. Into the 2000s, and who can possibly forget the flowing blonde locks of Fernando Torres, terrorizing defenses in his beautiful long-sleeved jersey and classic Carlsberg sponsor, a beverage unlikely to have ever passed the Spaniard’s lips.
Of course, the Liverpool kit designers have had some shockers over the years as well. The 2013-14 split kit wasn’t aired much outside the Anfield kit room, and with good reason, seeing as it was paired with Beetlejuice-inspired socks.
If that was bad, the third kit for 1994-96 was seemingly a re-imagining of the pools of yellow vomit one finds outside Liverpool’s kebab shops of a Sunday morning – worse again when the Reds had to borrow Southampton socks for a game at The Dell.
The Case for Atlético
Like Liverpool, Atlético Madrid have largely adhered to a classic color and design scheme throughout their history, and their kits have always looked best when the onus has been on bold red and white stripes, proving that change is always bad. The minimalist sponsor-free 2011-12 centenary home kit was a delight, as was its blue-sleeve-tipped heir the team wore during the 2012-13 season.
However, not helped by sponsors being cursed with logos designed by the visually challenged, Atlético have had their share of jersey faux pas. The horrendous shirts they used from 1996-98 were sponsored by cheesy gangster hangout Marbella – club president Jésus Gil was Mayor of Marbella from 1991-2002 – and featured a superimposed photo of the club’s stadium.
Coming a close second to that atrocity were the away tops worn from 2013 to 2015, which described Azerbaijan as a ‘Land of Fire’ set against a choice of putrid yellow or uninspiring grey, depending on how vile players wanted to look on any given road trip. In case you’re wondering why the ‘Spider-Man 2’ away kit from 2004-05 gets a pass, it’s because it was a temporary sponsor and the ‘clean’ version of that shirt looked quite good.
It’s hard to split them, with the tie going to extra time and penalties, but unfortunately for Klopp’s men, we think their backlog of unnecessarily ugly third kits mean that, on this occasion, they are edged out by the men from the Spanish capital.
That doesn’t mean we necessarily think Atlético will get further than Liverpool in the Champions League though. The jury is out on that one.