When the day comes that I am put in charge of German football, one of my first acts after working out how to temper Bayern Munich’s domestic dominance will be to issue an edict that at least half of the Bundesliga must wear adidas kits.
Schalke 04 and Hamburg would definitely fall into that bracket, though they are a bit like ships in the night at the moment – Schalke are set to return to adidas after a four-year stint while Hamburg’s most recent stay with adidas is coming to an end, with Castore rumoured to be taking over the contract. In any case, 2021-22 saw the clubs operating in 2. Bundesliga.
The second-tier title was won by Schalke, bouncing straight back, but a play-off defeat for Hamburg means that they remain outside the top flight for a fifth straight season, having constantly been in 1. Bundesliga since 1963, when they were one of the founder members.
The last time both clubs had adidas at the same time was the last time they were in the top division together, 2017-18. Of course, Hamburg’s default first-choice kit of white shirts, red shorts and blue socks has resulted in a few different clubs having to come up with alternative combinations when they play them. And, while Schalke do occasionally wear a change kit at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg, by and large the last two decades have seen them in a specific mashup, with that campaign another example of that.
When faced with a colour-clash below the waist, Hamburg often appear in all-white but, with that not possible away to Schalke, it’s generally white-red-white for them, as was the case in Gelsenkirchen in November 2017:
Schalke, who would go on to finish a distant second to Bayern that season, won that match 2-0. A 2-1 loss away to Bayern in February effectively ended any question-marks about the title but Schalke were unbeaten in 11 of their remaining 12 league games. The exception was the 3-2 defeat at Hamburg in April 2018.
With blue socks the only common element to the sides’ home strips, it would be unsurprising if Schalke did what they did when the Bundesliga began mandating sock changes in the late 1990s and simply switching to a white set. However, instead they seek to reduce the level of confusion that too much white would bring by wearing their change shorts – navy in the case of the 2016-18 kit (two-season lifespan, how quaint!). Incidentally, the socks in 2017-18 were those of the white change strip, whereas dedicated alternative home socks were used in 2016-17.
This approach from Schalke continues up to and including 2021-22 and this thoughtfulness is refereshing to see in an era when so many clubs change kit with little cause.