Nike will supply the kit for more teams than Adidas for the first time ever at this year's World Cup finals in Brazil.
The two sports giants will throw Lionel Messi against Cristiano Ronaldo and Spain against Brazil to see who can claim a bigger chunk of the multi-billion dollar football merchandise market.
Both claim they are leaders, but analysts say Nike is making an aggressive push in key football markets, which they entered only in the 1990s and made stunning progress. The company says it could soon earn more from football than basketball — the sport that launched Nike as a global force.
Adidas of Germany, the official World Cup sponsor, has traditionally dominated football pitches. Adidas will have a "dominant role" at the finals in Brazil, chief executive Herbert Hainer said this week.
Nike will be providing kits for 10 teams at this year's World Cup finals, with Adidas dropping to eight teams from 10 in 2010. It still has a formidable line-up however, with reigning champions Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria and Russia. Nike is "the world's leading football brand," Trevor Edwards, president of Nike Brands, told AFP in an interview.
Nike sponsors Argentine star Messi and his Barca mate Andres Iniesta will showcase the company's new boots, the Magista at the World Cup. Adidas have Portugal's Ronaldo at Real Madrid and Uruguayan Luis Suarez will be shooting with Adidas's rival Primeknits boots in Brazil.