One of the biggest battle for adidas and Nike will be on full display this weekend. The biggest piece in the adidas machine and Nike’s key asset go head-to-head as the two biggest giants in Spanish football vie for the most important points of the season.
The Nike Mercurial and adidas f50 are always on top of the goalscoring charts, so it makes perfect sense for both brands to attach their two biggest boots to one of football's ongoing great debates and add further fuel to any discussion about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. For those paying more attention to the branding side of their rivalry, this Sunday's Clásico will have that little extra spice, with both players lacing up in their latest signature footwear - the Nike Mercurial Superfly "Silverware" and adidas f50 adizero "Pibbe de Barr10".
In terms of design, Messi’s signature boots draw their inspiration from across the board. The newest incarnation sees a homage to the area around where the Argentine grew up, which also comes on the heels of the Mirosar10, a boot that honored his originl boyhood club. Of course, none of this is too surprising considering the bulk of the last seven Messi designs have been directly tethered to a major event in the player's football life.
Be it the player’s birthday or a recent toppling of a record, adidas haven’t stretched too far away from their source material in order to outfit their star man with a new pair of boots. Perhaps the oddest part of the boot “storyline” is how often Messi has actually found himself in an “outdated” version of the f50 (his miadidas boot, the “370” boot, and the Mirosar10). Wouldn’t you want your biggest draw to always be in the most up to date boot?
With CR7 and Nike’s design ideas, we definitely seem to get more of a random sampling. While the idea of paying homage to the player’s major accomplishments is still in play (the CR7 signature with his stats on the boot or a gold accent to accompany his Ballon d’Or victory for example), Nike have no issue simply declaring their inspiration to be Ronaldo’s talent, flair and audacity on and off the pitch.
Safari print, random stripes on mismatched boots, a print that looks straight out of a bad 80’s music video, a map to the stars, a black-tie affair with sparkles, boots seemingly derived from a neon watermelon, and now a silver paint job named after the goods that Madrid hope to bring home at the end of every campaign. No matter what it is, it feels like Nike can get away with just about anything when Ronaldo is concerned.
Think about it, would we really accept some of the stories and ad campaigns for Ronaldo’s boots as easily if it were Messi? Maybe not, but therein lies even more beauty in their differences. Direct competitors in so many ways, yet completely different playing styles, personalities, and any number of aspects that show how massively different these two superstars are.
While Messi and Ronaldo headline anything related to the pitch, there is no doubt that adidas and Nike are the two biggest figures in the equipment world. The two brands will have so much wrapped up in the ninety minutes between Real Madrid and Barcelona on Sunday that it's difficult for us to comprehend every item they will have on the table.
Still, who could have ever imagined that two players could demand so much attention to every moment they spend playing the game and for every boot that they lace up on their feet. It seems impossible to think that their stature in the game and products will ever be matched.
Take your pick. "Silverware" CR7 Superfly or "Pibbe de Barr10" Messi F50?