Last month’s Champions League 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, this comes as a huge bonus. But why?
Considering the only obvious bonus to being the first name out of the hat is choice of kit, Betway decided to try and find out what advantages can be gained from something as simple as a football shirt – with some interesting results.
— BIANCONERI FORUM (@bianconeriforum) May 13, 2017
Getting first pick
At first glance, the advantage of choosing first would appear to be minimal given the rarity of colour clashes means 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 wearing something other than their home shirt over the years.
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 – 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 while wearing their famous black and white stripes.
Stick or twist?
So, what would the Italian champions be better off wearing this time around?
Given their awful record in home shirts, they could decide to switch to their changed strip of plain blue, which they were wearing the last time they won the competition in 1996.
That, though, would mean allowing Real to wear white – the tournament’s most successful colour – in which they have won 10 of their 11 titles.
Their purple second strip, however, has fared far worse, having lost both of its appearances in the final: Real in 1962 and Fiorentina in 1957.
So, the question is, should Juve stick or twist? If history is anything to go by, then their decision might just make all the difference.