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The first World Cup 2018 kits have been leaked and they're pure retro gold

The Germany one is a delight

The first World Cup 2018 kits have been leaked and they're pure retro gold

We’re in the midst of an international break, aka the time when most of us just long for club football to return.

But this break is different. It’s crunch time in the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, so there’s actually quite a bit riding on the games.

England are on the verge of qualifying, while three of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could end up in the play-offs.

And once the small matter of qualification is resolved, we can turn our attention to the important stuff: that’s right, the tournament kits.

The new kits are much better than this

Only a handful of teams have locked down their place in Russia next summer, but that hasn’t stopped the generally-reliable FootyHeadlines from getting their hands on some designs for a number of footballing giants.

Russia and Belgium are the only European nations already definitely involved, but Germany can join them with a point in Northern Ireland on Thursday.

And the ‘leaked’ German kit looks very special indeed, drawing on the iconic 1990 World Cup design with a more minimalist colour scheme. Much better than some of these, at least.

The German design, first leaked by newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ)

That famous 1990 World Cup kit (Photo by Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock)

Italy look like they’ll need a play-off to make the finals, as they sit three points behind group leaders Spain.

The Azzurri seem confident, though, if the presence of leaked kits is anything to go by.

You can always rely on the Italians for quality, as evidenced in the retro long-sleeved home kit and a black goalkeeper jersey which calls to mind the 2002 World Cup.

England’s supposed home kit looks like carrying one small change from Euro 2016, with the blue shoulders turning white, and one bigger change, with a St George’s Cross print on the front.

Gareth Southgate’s team will guarantee a first-place finish in their group with victory in either one of their final two games against Slovenia and Lithuania.

France are far from assured of their place, with dropped points against Luxembourg meaning they may need to win their two remaining games to guarantee top spot.

Les Bleus should still qualify, and we’ll likely see a full leaked design sooner rather than later, but for now we’ll have to make do with a colour scheme and our imagination.

The same goes for The Netherlands, who are in the same group and in danger of not even making the play-offs.

In their case, though, their 2018 kit potential almost makes us want them to qualify. The World Cup would be a poorer place without sashes.

We’re sure to see more leaks ahead of the official releases as more teams guarantee their places in Russia.

At the time of writing, eight of the 32 teams are confirmed: Russia, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

By the end of this round of fixtures, eight more European teams will have qualified, while Egypt, Nigeria and Tunisia could confirm their places from the African qualifying groups before the final round of fixtures in November.

In the CONCACAF region (North and Central America and the Caribbean), Costa Rica need one point to progress, while at least one of Panama, the United States and Honduras will also make it through, and three more South American nations will guarantee qualification by this time next week.

(Images: Rex Features/Footy Headlines/WAZ)