By David Owen
June 23 – Nike is running away with Euro 2016’s battle of the brands after a final round of group games negotiated without defeat by its six participating teams.
The results mean that of the first 36 matches in France, Nike sides have lost just two. Turkey, which incurred both these defeats, is moreover the only Nike-equipped squad not to make it through to the knockout stages. This compares with three Adidas teams (Ukraine, Russia, Sweden) which failed to make the cut and two from Puma (the Czech Republic and Austria).
The US-based brand will have just one fewer representative than Adidas in the Last 16, which kicks off in Saint Etienne on Saturday, and two more than Puma.
After the competition burst into life with a series of thrills and spills on Wednesday, Umbro and the Italian brand Erreà will also be represented in the first knockout stage.
A late Robbie Brady goal earnt Umbro’s the Republic of Ireland a surprise 1-0 win over Italy, a repeat of the scoreline at the 1994 World Cup. Their reward is a clash with tournament host France, one of Nike’s five qualifiers, in Lyon on Sunday.
A day later, Erreà’s Iceland will play a dream tie against Nike’s England in the Mediterranean city of Nice. This follows their achievement in beating Puma’s Austria, one of the tournament’s biggest disappointments, with a last-gasp winner by Arnór Ingvi Traustason of…Rapid Vienna.
Iceland’s exploits mean that Erreà is the only brand within touching distance of Nike in the overall table. Adidas – for whom the good news stories so far have been Wales and Hungary – suffered five defeats in the final round of group matches, including Spain’s reverse at the hands of Croatia.
Puma’s five representatives had a torrid time with two draws and three defeats. The only Puma team who mustered so much as a goal in this final round of games was Austria.
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