The style of success: A short history of Champions League final kits
Can a team's choice of shirt affect their chances of European Cup glory? Our research reveals all...
Ahead of this season's Champions League final on Saturday, we decided to investigate whether home advantage really exists in a major European final at a neutral venue.
But with little to choose between the two sides in the latest football odds, will Juventus or Real Madrid have the edge going into their showdown in Cardiff on 3 June?
First out of the hat
Last month’s semi-final draw saw Juventus selected as this year’s designated ‘home’ team, with the first-named side winning a remarkable 47 of the 61 previous European Cup finals.
But why is this?
Considering that the only obvious bonus to being the first name out of the hat is getting to choose what kit you play in, we decided to try and find out what advantages can be gained from something as simple as a football shirt - with some interesting results.
Getting first pick
At first glance, the advantage of choosing first would appear to be minimal given that the rarity of colour clashes means that the away team are not often forced to change.
Even in the 23 finals that have featured one team in their home strip against another in their away, the victories have been shared 11 to 12 respectively.
However, interestingly, not every side opts to sport their home colours - with 11 of the first-named finalists over the years wearing something other than their home shirt.
And, given that 10 of those 11 went on to lift the trophy, it seems there is certainly something to be said for having first pick when it comes to kit.
All white on the night
AC Milan, for example, famously prefer to wear their lucky white jersey – dubbed the ‘maglia fortunata’ – over their traditional red and black stripes.
This stemmed from losing their first European Cup final in 1958 in their home shirt, before winning their second five years later in a changed strip of all-white.
The superstition then gained momentum during the late eighties and early nineties, when they won four more titles in white shirts that were altered to mirror the 1963 kit.
This was done by removing the patterning – such as horizontal bands or coloured shoulders – that was present on the designs at the time.
In total, the Rossoneri have lost two of three finals playing in their home shirts compared to winning six of eight when donning their lucky charm.
Curse of the stripes?
Milan, though, are not the only team to struggle in stripes.
Of the 24 finals between striped and non-striped shirts, the teams in stripes have won 8 and lost 16 – a success rate of just 33%.
Juventus have been more affected by this phenomenon than any other club, losing five of the six finals they have played in their famous black and white stripes.
Stick or twist?
Despite their awful record in black and white stripes, Juve have decided to wear their traditional home shirts in Cardiff on Saturday.
That does at least mean that Real are unable to wear white – the tournament’s most successful colour – in which they have won 10 of their 11 titles.
The purple second strip that they will wear instead has fared far worse, losing both of its appearances in the final when worn by Real in 1962 and Fiorentina in 1957.
The question is, which of the bad omens will prove most powerful on the night?