No, you’re not dreaming. It really is finally here.
As you fill in your office bracket (Belgium, really?) and realize you should have requested time off from work weeks ago (too obvious now), thousands of fans and hundreds of journalists, pundits, and photographers are en route to or already in Brazil, awaiting the start of the world’s biggest party. Poor them! The best view of this Cup will combine a large television monitor with a laptop and/or smartphone. With just a few clicks, any sweaty, scarf-wearing soccer maniac can tune in to the larger narratives and dissect the minute details of this World Cup. Tactics, squad selection, political unrest in the host country, corruption at FIFA: It’ll all be there.
You just need to know who to follow.
The Teams and players
Of the 32 nations taking part in this year’s tournament, all but one has an official Twitter account. Can you guess which? (Spoiler alert! It’s Iran.)
But don’t bother with those: Following a country’s official account won’t give you much more than match updates and the occasional picture anyway. Instead, Twitter Sports has compiled lists of players active on the social network, organized by country, and a separate master list of players participating in the World Cup. These feeds offer unprecedented access to the teams and a sense of the mood on the squad—not to mention a wealth of selfies and awkward product spots.
The United States, Germany, and France, in particular, all have a healthy crop of social media savvy players. But before any big match, tune into the competing countries’ lists before kickoff and after the final whistle to eavesdrop on the locker room chatter.
Goal Posts' Starting XI Journalists and Personalities
The selection below is just a starting point–a handful of individuals who can make watching the World Cup a more informed experience. If you have other, (arguably) better suggestions, let us know in the comments.
Michael Cox | @zonal_marking
A contributor to a host of publications and author of the popular blog Zonal Marking, Cox is a go-to account for a tactical (but digestible) understanding of the sport. Expect in-depth recaps of many of the tournament's best matches.
Jonathon Wilson | @jonawils
Wilson edits The Blizzard, a quarterly that publishes some of the best soccer writing around. Expect his feed to reflect his encyclopedic knowledge of the sport, highlighting the obscure and wonderful. Wilson also authored soccer’s definitive tactical history, The Inverted Pyramid, so there’s that.
Gabriele Marcotti | @Marcotti
Marcotti hosts the popular London Times podcast TheGame and has an impressive resume across newspapers and television. He’s an England-based Italian and, unlike many popular soccer analysts, can talk about more than just the English Premier League with command.
Sid Lowe | @sidlowe
Lowe, along with Graham Hunter, is an expert on Spanish soccer. He will provide an insider's view of Spain's attempt to seal its claim on total world domination: consecutive World Cup wins.
Philippe Auclair | @philippeAuclair
Auclair is feisty, intelligent, and usually right about all things France. He’ll also have a sharp eye on the latest FIFA corruption news, a topic that he’s written on extensively.
Oliver Kay | @OliverKayTimes
The London Times’ chief football correspondent. Kay will provide great day-to-day coverage of the tournament, and the England squad in particular. His editor, Tony Evans, is a great follow, too.
Fernando Duarte | @Fernando_Duarte
Duarte has covered the Brazilian national team for over a decade. He’ll have the latest on the Selecao as they attempt to claim a record sixth World Cup. For more on the host nation follow Simon Romero, The New York Times bureau chief in Brazil.
Stephanie Nolen | @snolen
As the Latin America Correspondent for Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper, Nolen recently embarked on a quest to understand Brazil’s obsession with soccer. The result is a fascinating, personal take on all aspects of the sport: poverty, gender, race, and beyond.
Siddhartha Mitter | @siddhmi
Mitter is a freelance journalist based in New York with a nose for biting commentary and classic World Cup moments. Despite not being in Brazil, expect his feed to educate and entertain.
Raphael Honigstein | @honigstein
After years of disappointing results (by German standards), the pressure is mounting on Joachim Löw’s squad to become the first European nation to win a World Cup on South American soil. Honigstein is an expert on the Germans, covering the nation’s football leagues and team for the Guardian, so follow him for a close reading of how the team’s bid is going.
Simon Kuper | @KuperSimon
Kuper is the author of many books, including the fan-favorite Soccernomics. While not a particularly opinionated or avid tweeter, he’s a great aggregator of World Cup content.
Want more? Don't forget to subscribe to our very own Twitter list, for the latest from the Goal Posts team.
Because most soccer-specific podcasts are recorded in Europe, they make the perfect morning companion. Listen to them over coffee or on your way to the office—they’re an easy, entertaining way to keep up with the latest news and opinion while taking a break from staring at a screen.
A special edition of the Guardian Football Weekly, this James Richardson-hosted production is generally considered to be the gold standard in soccer podcasts. Listen for a level-headed approach to all aspects of the tournament and a selection of respected guests.
The only Brits crazy enough to back the United States to win the World Cup, and purveyors of enough blind optimism to entertain a nation. The Men In Blazers are also the authors of a nifty World Cup video guide that’s worth a watch.
If you think sports are best served with an irreverent and sometimes crude sense of humor, Ramble will be to your liking. It sounds, to its favor, like the independent production that it is.
The second incarnation of the wildly popular Off The Ball podcast, the Irish Times’ Second Captains is a professionally produced, wide-reaching sports conversation injected with well-informed humor and news discussion.
Ryu Voelkel | @toksuede
Voelkel is heading to Brazil to make a “football photography book like no other,” according to a recent, and successful, Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. And the freelance photographer is arriving prepared: Julio Cortez | @julythephotoguy
Cortez is covering the United States’ World Cup campaign in Brazil for the Associated Press. Expect inside access, and a little flair: Michael Heiman | @heiman225
A photographer for Getty Images, Heiman provides a behind-the-scenes peek at one of the tournament's larger photography operations. Mario Tama | @mario_tama
Although he is an infrequent poster, Tama, who is also a photographer for Getty, has an eye for the extraordinary: Paulo Ito | @paulo_ito
Ito’s evocative portrayal of the World Cup in Brazil went viral. Despite not being the most active Instagrammer, pay attention to the artist’s feed during the tournament—and his Flickr as well. Matthew Niederhauser | @mdnphoto
Niederhauser is constructing a World Cup photo diary (thanks to a grant from the Pulitzer Center). Follow him for a candid view of that process, and tune in to our own handle, @thenewrepublic, which he'll be posting to frequently. Niederhauser won't be the only talented artist we're bringing on board for this blog: tune in to see the World Cup-inspired work of Simon Prades, who will be illustrating the defining moments of the tournament. Here's a preview: As for players’ feeds: Sport Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, who will be on the ground in Brazil reporting on the United States Men’s National Team, has already compiled the definitive guide. For a nation by nation, player by player, breakdown of accounts, go here. Or, if you want to limit yourself to following a few athletes, start here:
Deandre Yedlin | United States
Thiago Silva | Brazil
Daniel Sturridge | England
Cesc Fabregas | Spain
Neymar | Brazil
Lukas Podolski | Germany
Mamadou Sakho | France
One of the best apps for tracking the score, player formations, and live progress of matches. The app’s not a stunner, or jam-packed with tons of features, but that’s exactly why it’s so great: simple, easy to use, and light on the battery consumption.