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Summary

An insightful, comprehensive and always entertaining appreciation of how European football has developed over the last three decades by the author of the much heralded The Mixer

Continental football has always cast a spell over the imagination. From the attacking flair of Real Madrid of the '50s to the defensive brilliance of the Italians in the '60s and on to the total football of the Dutch in the '70s, the European leagues have been where the game has most evolved and taken its biggest steps forward. And over the last three decades, since the rebranding of the Champions League in 1992, that pattern has continued unabated, with each major European footballing nation playing its part in how the game’s tactics have developed.

From the intelligent use of space displayed by the phenomenal Ajax team of the early '90s, to the dominance of the highly strategic Italian league in the late '90s and on to the technical wizardry of Barcelona’s tiki-taka, the European game continues to reinvent the tactical dimension of the game, creating blueprints which both club and national teams around the world strive to follow.

In Zonal Marking, Michael Cox brilliantly investigates and analyses the major leagues around Europe over specific time periods and demonstrates the impact each has made on how the game is now played. Highly entertaining and packed full of wonderful anecdotes, this is the first audiobook of its kind to take an overview of modern European football and lays bare just how much the international language of football can be shaped by a nation’s unique identity.

©2019 Michael Cox (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"An excellent recent history of European football." (New Yorker

"A wonderful overview of tactical development in European football." (Matthew Syed, The Time)

"A fascinating assessment of football in 2019." (Observer)

What listeners say about Zonal Marking

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Insightful book, infuriating narrator

Nice presentation of the historical evolution of European football and how, like the nations themselves, styles are all interlinked. In contrast the narrator's inability to correctly pronounce a non-english name was infuriating. Roughly, he'd get 1 out of 10 foreign words pronounced right, pausing for a brief second before reading out one. If he was not conversant in any foreign language how difficult would it have been to Google how to pronounce names of football's protagonists? Even the likes of Savage, Allardyce and Warnock would do better. I bet Michael Cox is pulling his hair out now.

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Delivery more stilted than a Pogba penalty run-up

The tactical information is in-depth and truly fascinating and Michael Cox’s love of the game (and Guardiola) shines through. It would have been much better if the author had read it himself though, noted for his analysis on various football podcasts.

The narrator, though obviously a football fan and interested in the subject, has a really annoying habit of dropping the end of sentence before continuing as a new line.

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Good but not as good as The Mixer

Another really enjoyable listen, but personally I found it to not quite be as good as The Mixer. Perhaps it's because my knowledge of English football is greater than that of European football more broadly so I didn't quite get the same nostalgia hit.

Also where did the accents go?! I loved the narrator's accents in The Mixer, so I was expecting him to unleash his full repertoire here, but they're totally absent which was a disappointment.

On the whole still highly recommended though.

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Mesmerizing

Great to listen to! Interesting story which gave an entire new perspective on football. Great narration!

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Sociology but in football form

How the game has changed in the modern era. A great read also check out the authors other book the mixer.

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My first Audiobook: Wonderful!

Loved it completely! Well read, and a great book in itself as always from Cox!

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excellent narration of a great book

preferred the overseas section as I had a good idea of the English period but a great insight.

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Comprehensive, informative and relevant

Very neatly written book, hugely informative and well narrated. My only criticism would be that the narrator did not pronounce many of the non-English names properly e.g. La Masia. Could have been avoided with a tiny bit of research/preparation.

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Interesting

Well structured in terms of four year cycles of different countries leading the way. I found some parts great from a tactical perspective. The list of players names did bet a bit tiresome when we had the back four of team A, then a bit later team B. Other than that very good. The Cruyff, Netherlands -> Spain was particularly good for anyone who likes total football.

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fantastic.

brilliant book with excellent narration. After the mixer I was eagerly waiting to get into this and it didn't disappoint. if you like football you will love this, guaranteed.

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  • Teo
  • 25-08-19

Michael Cox, my friends

Michael is just the best football writer in the world right now. Don't miss the chance. Read it today.

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  • Andrew MacPherson
  • 07-08-19

good book, bad narrator

the narrator couldn't pronounce half the names properly. "mar-chello" or "marsa" for Marca it was hard to listen to at parts.