As part of our daily newsletter I’ve become an avid reader of hundreds of soccer blogs across the web. Here are twelve of my favorites that I highly recommend following this season.

NOTE: This post is dedicated specifically to less mainstream publications. So obviously you can find great coverage in British media through the Guardian and Telegraph as well as in magazines like FourFourTwo. You can also find great writing in the USA at ESPN FC, Soccer Gods, Grantland, SB Nation, and, if you’re into MLS, the MLS official site (somewhat surprisingly). This list is meant for people who know Brian Phillips, Sid Lowe, Rory Smith, George Caulkin, and Gab Marcotti who are looking for new things to read as we enter the new season.

20 Minute Reads

Madrid-based journo Thore Haugstad has put together a fine minimalist site dedicated to taking the time to tell stories well. His pieces on manager Helenio Herrera and Jose Mourinho’s first season in England are particularly worth reading.

Publishing Frequency: 1 per month
Typical Length: 5000 words
Content Type: In-depth long form profiles and histories
Focus: Europe and South America

Africa Football Shop

Africa Football Shop is a one-stop-shop for all things African football. Mixing both player and team analysis with news coverage, it’s a really nice resource for people interested in following African football but who don’t live in Africa or have consistent access to African media to help them follow the goings on there. Site editor Ed Dove is a friend of mine and I’ve written for the site, but even if that were not true I would still recommend it as a good place to go if you are wanting to keep a closer eye on both the more prominent African nations like Ghana and the Ivory Coast as well as lesser known footballing nations like Sudan, Kenya, and Cape Verde.

Publishing Frequency: News updates can be 2-3 per day, features are 2-3 per week
Typical Length: News updates are a couple paragraphs, features are 750-1000 words
Content Type: News updates, player analysis, team analysis, match recaps
Focus: Africa

Bayern Central

The folks at Bayern Central have created a team-focused blog that should be a template for any other bloggers interested in launching a blog focused on covering a single club. The content is a fine mixture of featuring writing, statistical analysis, tactical analysis, fan surves and even a bit of financial reporting. And the writing here is very good too so you don’t have to put up with poorly constructed sentences in order to learn something about tactics or finance.

Publishing Frequency: 1-2 per day
Typical Length: 750-1000 words
Content Type: News briefs, tactical and statistical analysis, match recaps, limited financial coverage
Focus: Bayern Munich

BeNeFoot

One of the most interesting regions in world football in recent years has been northern Europe and, particularly, the nations of Belgium and the Netherlands. The Netherlands have always punched above their weight, of course, but now their lesser known neighbors in Belgium are also beginning to emerge as a genuine European power. Though they still haven’t achieved anything of note and their domestic league lags well behind the Eredivisie, Belgium has produced a number of fine talents and looks likely to keep doing so in the years to come. If you want to follow this part of the world in football, BeNeFoot is one of the best English-language sites out there.

Publishing Frequency: 1-2 per day during the work week
Typical Length: 750-1000 words
Content Type: Weekend recaps, scouting reports, player and team analysis
Focus: Belgian and Dutch domestic leagues as well as Belgian and Dutch players in other major leagues

The Boot Room

The Boot Room is a fine looking blog dedicated to covering all the major European leagues. You won’t find statistical or tactical analysis here as much, but what you will find is engaging, well-written columns on any number of possible angles, mostly focused on England but also occasionally touching on La Liga, the Bundesliga, and MLS.

Publishing Frequency: 1-3 times per day
Typical Length: 750-1000 words
Content Type: Team and player analysis, commentary
Focus: Primarily England, but also occasionally Spain, Germany, and the USA

The Botafogo Star

The Botafogo Star is the best place to go for in-depth coverage of Brazilian football. Most soccer fans discover players like Neymar, Oscar, and Philippe Coutinho when they arrive at a top European club. But you can be sure the Botafogo Star has been watching them since their days in the Brazilian domestic league. If you want to know who the next big thing to come out of Brazil is or what’s going on in the Brazilian domestic scene, this is the place to go.

Publishing Frequency: 4-6 times per month
Typical Length: 900-1200 words
Content Type: Team and player analysis, weekend and match recaps, commentary
Focus: Brazil and Brazilian players abroad

Bundesliga Fanatic

The Bundesliga Fanatic is the best English-language blog for all things German football. They offer match previews, tactical analyses, news reports, and original commentary. Given the number of players moving from Germany to England right now it is especially worth following for Premier League fans.

Publishing Frequency: 7-10 times per week
Typical Length: 1000-1500 words
Content Type: Team and player analysis, weekend and match recaps, commentary
Focus: Bundesliga

The False 9

The False 9 is similar to The Boot Room in that both blogs are focused around general football coverage with a particular emphasis on the Premier League. One thing that sets The False 9 apart, however, is their in-depth tactics series. They have a Football Tactics for Beginners series that is quite good and another How to Watch Football Like an Expert series that is also helpful.

Publishing Frequency: 3-5 per month
Typical Length: 750-1250 words
Content Type: Team and player analysis, weekend and match recaps, commentary
Focus: England

The Football Pink

The Football Pink is an online football magazine with a broad focus on European club soccer that looks at the top leagues but also turns its eyes elsewhere, as in this fine piece. This is one of the best places to go for feature-length football writing outside the conventional publishing world.

Publishing Frequency: 4-6 per week
Typical Length: Anywhere from 1000 word briefs to 3000 word features
Content Type: In-depth stories, histories, commentary
Focus: European football with occasional work on international football

Futebol Cidade and Futbolgrad

I’m treating these as one thing even though they are two separate sites. Both are led by Manuel Veth, a PhD student at King’s College London studying Soviet and post-Soviet era football in Russia. What makes both Futebol Cidade and Futbolgrad so much fun is two-fold: First they focus on the domestic game in two places that are pretty central to world football but don’t get much English language coverage—South America and Russia and its surrounding nations. What also makes them fun is that Veth, rather like Sid Lowe in Spain, is an academy guy with roots outside of journalism, which gives him a different approach to football writing.

Publishing Frequency: 2-3 per week
Typical Length: ~750-1000 words
Content Type: History, commentary, scouting reports
Focus: South America for Futebol Cidade, Russia, eastern Europe, and western Asia for Futbolgrad

Game of the People

There’s a number of sites doing really fine work on the game from a more populist perspective. They cover the culture of the game and also pick up some interesting stories from less celebrated regions. Game of the People is amongst the best. Their recent piece on match-day attendance in Europe’s smaller leagues is interesting as is this piece looking at the dominance of the USSR in football on the other side of the Iron Curtain during the Communist era in eastern Europe.

Publishing Frequency: 10-15 per month
Typical Length: ~1000 words
Content Type: History, news, cultural analysis
Focus: England and Europe

Goalden Times

Goalden Times is in the same basic category as sites like Twenty Minute Reads or These Football Times. They do excellent in-depth feature-style writing that covers an impressive breadth of global soccer. Recently they have run profiles on Javier Zanetti, Brandi Chastain, and forgotten Argentine legend Guillero Stabile. In addition to their history features, they also do some limited tactical writing, regular commentary, and team analysis.

Publishing Frequency: ~7 per month
Typical Length: 1500-2500 words
Content Type: History, features, tactical analysis, commentary, team analysis
Focus: South America, North America, Europe

Just Football

Full disclosure, Just Football is one of the first sites that featured my writing on a regular basis and the editor, Jonathan Fadugba, is a friend of mine. I’m also still a contributor to JF. That said, even if that wasn’t true I would still highly recommend this excellent site. Jonathan has a talent for finding writers to cover some fairly obscure topics and regions in world football (in English language coverage, at least), as a perusal of the archives will make plain.

Publishing Frequency: 5-7 per week
Typical Length: 750-1000 words
Content Type: Scouting reports, team analysis, news, tactical analysis, features
Focus: World Soccer (in other words—just about anything)

King Fut

Though primarily focused on Egyptian football, King Fut also does some other fine work on African football more generally. They mostly do news reports, player profiles, match previews, and other more standard football writing that would fit in fairly comfortably at a mainstream newspaper. That said, they do it at a level and on a topic that is difficult to find in English media which makes them stand out.

Publishing Frequency: 5-7 per week
Typical Length: 750-1000 words
Content Type: Scouting reports, team analysis, news, tactical analysis, features
Focus: World Soccer (in other words—just about anything)

Licence to Roam

Licence to Roam is maintained by some Australian football fans and focuses primarily around tactical analysis. There isn’t too much here that can be called original, but what they do they do very well and given the sheer number of potential pieces one can write with tactical analysis their ideas and arguments often are interesting and creative, even if it is primarily a tactics blog.

Publishing Frequency: 3-5 per week
Typical Length: 750-1250 words
Content Type: Tactical analysis, player reports
Focus: Mostly Europe with the odd North or South American piece mixed in

Outside of the Boot

If Michael Cox’s Zonal Marking pioneered the genre of tactics writing, Outside of the Boot has helped develop it to the next level. Cox’s site primarily used computer-generated graphics to talk about tactical decisions and strategies; Outside of the Boot often uses screen captures and GIFs to show how a team is actually lining up or responding to a given in-game situation. Along with Spielverlagerung (on whom more very soon) they are one of the two best currently active tactics sites in my opinion. The folks here are consistently thorough and engaging and you will often learn at least one new thing from reading one of their match recaps. They also do tactical analysis of specific managers (rather like similar posts we’ve attempted in the past) and teams.

Publishing Frequency: ~2 per day
Typical Length: 1000-1500 words
Content Type: Tactical analysis, player reports, manager analysis
Focus: Mostly Europe

Premier League Owl

There are a number of top columnists in today’s media who got their start via a blog. Thinking broadly you can talk about Ezra Klein, Nate Silver, or Glenn Greenwald. If you shift focus to sports specifically then you’re talking about Bill Simmons, Bill Barnwell, and Brian Phillips. Sebastian Stafford-Bloor at Premier League Owl could someday belong in that same conversation. Though he seldom does anything beyond a conventional newspaper column on whatever Premier League events catch his eye, his writing is still consistently fresh and interesting. If the Premier League is your scene, follow Seb.

Publishing Frequency: 3-5 per week
Typical Length: ~750 words
Content Type: Commentary
Focus: Premier League

Proven Quality

Proven Quality fits with the same general category as The Boot Room and Licence to Roam. None of these sites will win prizes for originality but, as with the other two sites named above, what Proven Quality does well they do quite well. This is high-quality work on the tactical analysis and player report front and is well worth a follow on Twitter or saving in an RSS feed.

Publishing Frequency: 1 per day
Typical Length: 750-1000 words
Content Type: Commentary, tactical analysis, player analysis
Focus: Premier League and general European football

The Set Pieces

Iain Macintosh’s new site is a fun project that is worth keeping an eye on. Determined to do something fresh with online football writing, Macintosh’s site features an always-entertaining series called “Pieces of Hate” as well as consistently interesting interviews with well-known figures in football, book reviews, and quirky features like Alex Stewart’s spectacular Moneyball Meets Football Manager story. You can learn more about Macintosh’s hopes for the site here.

Publishing Frequency: 3-5 per week
Typical Length: 750-1250 words
Content Type: Commentary, interviews, features, player reports
Focus: Premier League and general European football

Spielverlagerung

Originally a German-language site, Spielverlagerung was so successful in its native tongue that an English-version of the site was eventually launched. What makes Spielverlagerung stand out is two-fold: First they found very accessible, high-level language to describe tactical realities on the field. Second, they are very good at taking the time to parse out exactly how that high-level idea works in practice. This gives them a fun (and refreshing!) mixture of accessibility and high-level technical content.

Publishing Frequency: 4-6 per month
Typical Length: 1000-2000 words
Content Type: Tactical analysis, player reports
Focus: Premier League, Bundesliga, other European clubs

Stats Bomb

Stats Bomb is, by some distance, the best stats-focused soccer blog going right now. Though more statistically savvy writing is becoming more common, most notably on the SB Nation blogs like Cartilage Free Captain and Bitter and Blue as well as through Mike Goodman’s work at Grantland, statistically-backed work is still a bit outside the soccer journalism mainstream. Part of that is likely down to the challenge of reducing soccer to statistical data. That said, another issue may well be that there simply aren’t enough writers out there doing good, engaging work in which they interact more carefully with a player’s statistics, giving them a better glimpse of what that player is capable of doing. Stats Bomb is a happy exception to that rule and does consistently fantastic work.

Publishing Frequency: 4-6 per month
Typical Length: 750-1500 words
Content Type: Statistical analysis of players, managers, and clubs
Focus: Primarily England and Europe, but the stats-based approach could be adapted to any region with a decent following and the tools to provide more sophisticated statistical data.

The Swiss Ramble

If you’re interested in the financial side of the game, there is no better site to follow than the Swiss Ramble. They cover team financial data in a way unparalleled not only within the world of soccer writing, but even compared to the financial writing I see on other professional sports. The down side to this is the number crunching may end up being too much for the vast majority of fans as much fans will not care to dive as deep into a club’s financials as the folks at the Swiss Ramble do. The up side is that if you want to know about a team’s financial situation, you can look for them on the Swiss Ramble and, if they’ve covered the club you’re looking for, you should find everything you could ever want to know about how that club’s finances work.

Publishing Frequency: 1 per week
Typical Length: ~5000 words along with explanatory graphics and charts
Content Type: Financial analysis
Focus: Primarily England and Europe

These Football Times

These Football Times is my favorite place to read long-form feature style writing. The site is really good looking, of course, but what really stands out there is the quality of the writing, the angles they take on stories, and the stories that they are able to tell. If you only follow 2-3 of these blogs, These Football Times should be one of them.

Publishing Frequency: 1 per day
Typical Length: 2000-3000 words, but sometimes they go longer or shorter
Content Type: Feature writing
Focus: Primarily Europe and South America

Think Football

Think Football is a fun site maintained by my friend Amit Singh. Amit writes remarkably fast and so TF is one of the best places to go for reaction coverage following big matches or a momentous weekend of league play. If you like tactical stuff or stats-focused pieces but don’t necessarily want to get lost in the weeds, TF is a good place to go.

Publishing Frequency: 1-2 per day
Typical Length: 500-1000 words
Content Type: Tactical and statistical analysis, commentary
Focus: Primarily Europe

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