Who is Winning the World Cup of Spokesmen, Nike or Adidas?

Nike and adidas entered the World Cup in a head-to-head marketing battle for soccer supremacy. Nike's Write the Future ad campaign has played to rave reviews while adidas has their own artsy campaign that seems part Matrix and part Shaolin Soccer. With both companies using their affiliated stars to market their new state-of-the art shoes, let's have a look at who is using those ridiculously overpriced boots more spectacularly through ten days. ↵

↵First, adidas: ↵

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↵David Villa was rather inconspicuous in his first match but broke out, as expected, in Spain's second match of the group stage. Villa had two goals -- and missed a penalty kick wide that would have secured the hatrick -- as Spain easliy defeated Honduras. ↵

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↵Another player adidas has as the central figure in their ad campaign is French legend Zinedine Zidane, who retired from international competition after the 2006 World Cup. While not featured in this campaign, David Beckham is prominent in the company's other ad that spoofs Star Wars. ↵

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↵Jozy Altidore doesn't appear in the main international version of the ad campaign, but is featured in the version playing in the United States. While he hasn't put a ball in the net just yet, he has been active, nearly scoring against England, setting up the game-tying goal with a stellar header against Slovenia and then creating the foul which set up the eventual game-winner that wasn't later in that match. ↵

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↵Brazilian midfielder Kaka has had an odd World Cup so far, getting sent off in the last match, causing him to miss their upcoming tilt against Portugal which, all of a sudden, could be for first place in the group. While on the field, Kaka has been active, credited with two assists despite not having a goal of his own. ↵

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↵Lionel Messi is regarded as the best player in the world and in Argentina's first two group stage matches, he's shown why. He has yet to tally a goal, and inexplicably hasn't been credited with an assist despite completely controlling the Argentine attack and setting up the entire offense for Diego Maradona's squad. He may not be on the scoresheet, but Messi has been spectacular. ↵

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↵Now, Nike: ↵

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↵The Nike contingent hasn't been great, that's for sure. Most notable is the presence of Ronaldinho in the campaign, who wasn't included on Brazil's World Cup roster. Whoops. ↵

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↵Cristiano Ronaldo didn't do much in Portugal's first match – other than ring a shot off the post – but came back with a spectacular effort in Portugal's 7-0 of North Korea. Ronaldo set up a few chances for Portugal before finally ending his scoring drought with a juggling tally after the match had clearly been decided. But hey, a goal is a goal. No statues shall be erected just yet, but he's almost assured to see the knockout round. ↵

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↵You can't say the same for the rest of these blokes. First, let's take Franck Ribery of France whose team is in complete shambles at the moment. France and Algeria are the only teams to have played two matches and have yet to score. ↵

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↵Next, Wayne Rooney, who played well at times against the United States, has yet to tally a goal in the 2010 World Cup as the English team is on the verge of falling apart at the seams just like France has. That said, unlike France, England just needs a win, or high-scoring tie, to advance. There's still hope for Rooney to avoid being jettisoned to live in a trailer park, but I wouldn't book any visits to the Queen's house just yet either. ↵

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↵Didier Drogba actually deserves nothing but accolades for even playing in the World Cup at all after suffering a broken bone in his arm just a few days before the tournament. Drogba had a great chance to score in Ivory Coast's tie with Portugal and did get the lone tally in a demoralizing loss to Brazil. His play is incredibly inspiring, no matter what he does on the scoresheet. ↵

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↵Last on the Nike side is Fabio Cannavaro, who, well, looks old. Che Capitano hoisted the World Cup four years ago, so if Italy was going to put on a variety show in his honor, they shouldn't have waited until he rounded into his late 30s. One of the world's great defenders, he refused to place blame on the New Zealand tie, saying the team played together, and played hard, but looking at the conceded goal, wasn't it his fault? Even if it was deflected (which could have resulted in offsides) he let his man get behind him and had a chance to clear the ball before he fell down which directly led to the New Zealand goal. If Cannavaro doesn't want to point fingers, it's because he should be pointing one at himself. ↵

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↵Italy should have no problem defeating Slovakia and advancing into the next round where the team has always fared better than in the group stage, so perhaps there's more of Cannavaro's future to write this year. ↵

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↵Thus far, it looks like adidas is ahead in the overall quality of play. For the stars, however, the tournament is really just getting started…if they all advance, that is. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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