Many soccer aficionados, which means pretty much half the world, are focused right now on the UEFA Euro 2016 championship, a big event that has brought together two dozen teams from countries across Europe. That makes it an opportune time to look at some apps that can help fans keep up with news of the sport, understand the championships and get a flavour of what it is like to play soccer.
For straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth news about the Euro 2016 championship, the official UEFA app is the first place to look. It aggregates news and is a social media portal and source for official championship information. The app provides information about coming games, scores in earlier matches, and data on individual players and their history.
The app is easy to navigate. But if you are new to soccer, there is little to explain what is going on and not much in the way of emotionally charged content to pique your interest. The app is free at least, and available on both iOS and Android.
For a more entertaining look at Euro 2016’s news and other soccer data, check out the Onefootball app. This is an image-heavy program that pulls together soccer news stories into a scrollable list. Tapping on a link takes you to the full story, and the app has a live section that updates with news about matches as they are being played and offers real-time analysis.
The app sometimes lacks polish, and if you are using it on a bigger device like an iPad, the menus can look small and the images sometimes seem low quality. But for a news source that is up-to-date and dynamic and includes video, this app, which is free on iOS and Android, is the one. The iOS version of the app also has an Apple Watch app so you can see the latest news on your wrist.
Like Forza Football, another soccer app that is free on iOS and Android and that is well known as a news source for the sport, Onefootball is likely to be useful after the Euro 2016 games end, continuing to bring news from football leagues around the world.
If you want to play a soccer game on your mobile device, one excellent option is the Dream League Soccer 2016 app, which is free on iOS and Android with in-app purchases for additional content.
This is a third-person-style football simulator. You observe a soccer match from the same point of view as a television camera, and move your players around using an onscreen joystick and three simple buttons to control how they kick or pass the ball or intercept opposing players. The game automatically swaps players for you so you control only the one nearest the ball, which keeps things easy to manage.
The app makes soccer feel surprisingly real, and it captures the flow of play. The players are shown as 3-D graphics and are well animated, and when you score a goal there is an option to see a replay from many different angles. There are even convincing crowd noises and commentators, who mention details of the action, including players’ names.
There are plenty of options to control the layout of your chosen team, to improve players’ skills, add custom logos and even change stadium designs. You can choose to progress through layers of a championship or just play a quick game. In short, this app is sophisticated enough to keep your attention for hours or to satisfy urges to get in a little soccer action if you have just a few minutes.
One thing Dream League does not have is any sort of female representation in the game. Though women’s soccer has become increasingly popular, the game sticks to just men’s.
For a less serious, but nonetheless fun and weirdly realistic game of simulated football, check out the Stickman Soccer 2016 app ($1 on iOS and free with in-app purchases for Android). This game plays much like Dream League, albeit with slightly simpler controls and less in the way of team management options.
It has a 3-D cartoon look and a faster pace of play; games last only a few minutes. It still manages to pack in some convincing soccer tricks like slides, diving saves, goal-scoring celebrations and some neat tackling moves, plus the option to replay some recent games.
The one quirk is the game’s look, which as its title suggests, places you in control of stick figures—3-D, animated versions of the line-drawn human shapes we all know. That takes a little getting used to.