The Panenka

1,013,000,000 people watched the 2014 world cup final. 7.6 billion people are alive today, meaning over 13% of people in the world put their life on pause for 2 hours on July 13th, 2014. More people watched the world cup than speak English or Spanish combined. More people watched the world cup than have blue eyes. More people watched the world cup than make a living wage.

If those facts aren’t enough to prove to you the global importance of the world cup, The Panenka Blog surely will. Focused on the world cup and European soccer, The Panenka has articles ranging from FIFA organization politics, new global soccer technologies and strategies, and in-depth information on every world cup team and match. This is the kind of blog that sucks you in with one unique, intriguing article on something like “Security Guard Robots for the 2018 World Cup”, and leaves you 2 hours later wondering where all your free time just went. This blog is perfect for any level of soccer fan. The articles range from the most basic information like the rules of soccer, to in-depth discussions you will surely find nowhere else on the internet, like a comparison between the transitions from ugly to beautiful play styles of the Greece and Portugal national teams. No matter how much you know about soccer, you will surely learn a lot from this blog. So if you are interested in why Iceland experienced a record high birthrate on March 27th, 2017, this blog is for you. (Spoiler alert: it was 9 months after Iceland defeated England in the 2016 Euro Cup)

The Panenka is named after a style of penalty kick, which is in turn named after a former Czech soccer player Antonin Panenka. A “Panenka” is a penalty kick that, rather than going to the left or right corner of the net, goes straight to the upper center of the net, in an attempt to fool the keeper. Antonin Panenka inaugurated this trick in one of the biggest stages possible, the 1976 European Championship Final in the penalty shootout following a tie in regular time. Panenka stepped up to the penalty line and calmly wedged his foot under the ball to loft it right over the diving German keeper to lead the Czechoslovakian team to victory over the vicious German side. It takes a lot of nerve and precision to pull of this dangerous maneuver, but the few that are bold enough to attempt it usually find success.

Visual of a Panenka penalty kick

This blog is written by soccer players and fans all over the world, for soccer players and fans all over the world. Will Jones, an American who works for Barclays banking company, owns the blog and writes for it often, but many other people around the world write as well. Becoming a writer yourself is as easy as sending an email to the official Panenka Blog website. The wide variety of writers promotes the wide variety of interesting content available on the blog.

The “World Cup 2018 Preview” series is the most recent content to be published to the blog. Each post in the series selected a team participating in the 2018 world cup and summarizes their path to the world cup, their players and managers, and their key to success. The posts are short, interesting, and informative, so they are perfect for binging in your free time.

My favorites include the Belgian team preview because of the focus on my favorite soccer player, Eden Hazard. The article explains that Belgium secured 1st place in their qualifying group with a whopping 4 games remaining to be played. They then finished their qualifiers on a strong note, a 9-0 victory that left them undefeated. Belgium has never finished above 4th place in the world cup, but this summer is likely to change that. Eden Hazard, Belgian captain and midfielder, is one of the best dribblers in the world, and his penchant for creating goal scoring chances lead his Premier League team Chelsea to the title last season. He will surely be an asset for the Belgian team this summer, and likely one of the top performers in the entire world cup.

Eden Hazard and teammates from the Belgian national team


The world cup preview on Iceland is equally interesting. The article first explains that Iceland has never before qualified for a world cup, and they are now the smallest nation to qualify in the history of the competition. Coming off a heroic performance at the 2016 Euro Cup where they reached the quarter-finals, Iceland pulled off upsets versus strong teams like Turkey and Croatia to clinch a 2018 world cup spot.  Iceland is one of the biggest underdog stories in history because of how shockingly small the country is. Only 334 thousand people live in Iceland. That’s way less people than live in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The manager of the team isn’t even a full-time manager, he’s actually a practicing dentist. The one key factor is the countries national support. 99.8% of TV watchers tuned into the Iceland vs England Euro Cup match in 2016, and 8% of the countries population even made the trip to France to watch it live. Clearly soccer is of dire importance in this country, and you can expect the fans to put on a show at the 2018 world cup.

Iceland national team celebrating with the “viking clap”


The Panenka Blog is a perfect platform to learn more about any aspect of world cup soccer that interests you. I can assure you that this website will hold a steady spot in my favorites bar until the conclusion of the world cup, and I urge you to check it out for yourself.