The 2013-14 football season began in a limited manner with the start of the German and French national leagues last week. Matches in England and Spain, two of the most popular football leagues, will kick off tomorrow. So we can call it open season finally. As ever, there will be loads of goals, talking points and off-field controversies to keep track of. Thankfully, if you have a smartphone or a tablet, you can keep up to date with your favourite leagues, players and clubs on the go, and there are apps for even the craziest fans. Here are our picks.
THE Football App
Free; Android, iOS & Windows Phone 8
By far the most-polished soccer app around, this rather plainly named app does everything one expects. Live scores, league tables, news, club highlights, stats from around the world: all are present in a neat, swipeable interface, along with some elements from Android’s Holo design guidelines. You will also find videos of matches, interviews and press conferences, and player profiles from over 100 leagues around the world. The Football App has customisable notifications, so if you don’t follow any one team in particular, you can set it up to deliver notifications on every goal and on-field highlight scored on every match day.
Clean interface and feature-rich
Free; Android, iOS
UEFA, the governing body for European football, organises the continent’s top two multi-national club competitions, the Champions League and the Europa League. The official app gives fans a window into these two tournaments and also other international level matches organised by UEFA, including qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2016. Live scores, fixtures, interviews, player profiles and the latest photos are all packaged into the app along with videos and news.
The official app for the Champions League
Free; Android, iOS
Often, punditry can leave fans frustrated. Expert opinion is great, but can get too longwinded and lacks the same passion that die-hard fans can bring. Thankfully, FTB Pro is an app that lets you read what the average football fan thinks about that thrilling 4-4 Manchester Derby draw over the weekend or Pep Guardiola’s new tactics at Bayern Munich. Don’t agree with what that one annoying Chelsea fan (aren’t they all?) is saying? Anyone can pitch in with their two cents and get a conversation going. FTB Pro is built for uber-fans. The news section pulls in stories and Tweets in English as well as other languages, making it a comprehensive collection. In fact, if you are following a non-English football club, you are more likely to find non-English articles in your feed. Regular sections like league tables, fixtures, results are all present. You can connect your Facebook account to the app and have it send updates to your News Feed and share stories. FTB Pro has dedicated apps for Manchester United, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, in addition to the main app.
Fan-generated content; outrageous articles; loads of fun
Football Manager Handheld 2013
Rs 550; Android, iOS
Instead of watching and tracking matches around the world, you can take charge of your favourite club with FMH 2013. The game has legendary status among football fans and the smartphone version brings the same deep functionality and lets you take full control of transfers, training, tactics and team management. Players have to guide their teams through typical league football scenarios and have to find the right balance when it comes to spending on players. You would be surprised how well the AI plays and leaves you with dejected stars when you bench them a lot, or how negotiations get stalled due to a particularly pesky player agent. There are two modes to choose from and players can opt for a full career mode or complete short-term tasks using the "Challenge Mode". FMH 2013 also brings in-app purchases with which players can expand their team’s stadium and roster, or attract the virtual Roman Abramoviches to fund their "galactico" projects.
Get a taste of the managerial life
Crazy about stats, but don't have a smartphone? This web app is the right fit for you and also works perfectly on tablets. With granular control over what stats you want to see for clubs in the major leagues, Squawka makes for a great companion to your weekend football glut. Pick a game for the weekend and you will be presented with a chat panel and a data panel. You can dive into live statistics on either team, any player or any two players head-to-head in the data panel. Once you have found an interesting stat you want to share, go to the chat panel to discuss your findings with others. You can even share data panels out to your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. The awesome sauce here is Squawka’s very own player performance scoring algorithm. The technical team at Squawka scores every on-ball action for every player and each footballer gets a little number next to their profile, which indicates what kind of a game or season a players is having. They claim to take into account 14 million data points in real time, so we are guessing this is as comprehensive a metric as you can get for last-minute changes to your fantasy football line up. The website also promises a smartphone app for the service later this year, so be on the look out on the respective app stores.
Squawka has a fix for your stat cravings
Did we miss out on your favourite football app? Let us know in the comments.