Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Zonal Marking: The Making of Modern European Football” as Want to Read:
Zonal Marking: The Making of Modern European Football
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Zonal Marking: The Making of Modern European Football

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,280 ratings  ·  96 reviews
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 onto 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 rebran ...more
Kindle Edition, 446 pages
Published May 30th 2019 by HarperCollins
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,280 ratings  ·  96 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Zonal Marking: The Making of Modern European Football
Stanislav Stanchev
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Football fans of all ages
This is one of the best football books I've ever read. Michael is of course renowned on the internet for looking at individual football games and analyzing them well beyond the typical questions of whether a goal was "stunning" or a red card was "unfair". He looks at patterns - running patterns, passing patterns, tactical patterns. With Zonal Marking he is able to take his brilliantly analytical approach and apply it on a macro scale, looking at the development and evolution of modern European f ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Cheesy. Michael Cox was impressive in the 5-star book The Mixer. However, I found Zonal Marking is kind of repetitive to The Mixer. If you have read The Mixer, no need to read this book. It feels like a consolation goal to The Mixer.
Sourya Dey
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sport
Excellent book. Might be the best footballing book I've ever read. Features tactical analyses in great detail along with minute-by-minute match descriptions, all written in very free-flowing and subtly passionate language. This book describes modern football – born in 1992 (the year I was born) after the back-pass rule totally changed how football was played – through the contributions and styles of 7 nations. These range from Dutch tactical brilliance to Italian defensive mastery to French atta ...more
Alex Still
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic and engrossing read if you’re a football lover, especially if you love your football tactics. It’s meticulously researched and packed with detailed summaries of matches and engaging, humorous anecdotes. At times I felt that the structure of the book (which inevitably influences its overall argument) was becoming a bit of a straitjacket, but the author dispelled those concerns with relative ease and comfort by both his writing and the content of his work. This book was a great bit of ...more
Lee Madden
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding read. Part nostalgic trip through the last 25 years of football, part tactical analysis of both individual teams and players as well as broader national trends. This book is well written, fascinating and has some great wit and if you’re a football fan of any generation , it’s worth a read. If you were born in the 80’s however, it is likely you grew up along side many of the teams and players, which for me, made it all the more interesting and meaningful.

If I had one criticism, it wo
Colin Thomson
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Listened to this as an audiobook and it was the perfect match. Podcasts are oft criticised these days as extremely vanilla by supposed intellects who are above anything that exists within the current zeitgeist. I therefore have to make the distinction that I mean this in the most complimentary of terms; this was akin to listening to the most wonderful, comprehensive and entertaining podcast series imaginable.

I say that as, unlike football books of similar detail and length (see the wonderful Jo
Edward Woodhouse
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a really enjoyable read. As in his first book, The Mixer, Cox presented the sometimes nebulous subject of football tactics in an entertaining and accessible way. It felt like he wanted to take you with him rather than inundate you with dry material. The structure of the book was both thematic and chronological which gave it a good flow. It was really interesting to see how each of the discussed countries interacted with the concept of footballing identity and the extent to which they st ...more
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Final book of the year for 2020! And a cracker it was, too.

The best football book I've read, by far. Absolutely fascinating.

Cox tells a history of European football. There's one section for each of 7 countries in a different time period - Holland ('92-'96), Italy ('96-'00), France ('00-'04), Portugal ('04-'08), Spain ('08-'12), Germany ('12-'16) and England ('16-'20).

Each country gets a discussion of their 'national footballing identity' - a combination of the dominant tactics of their eras and
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, kindle
A very interesting read on the eras of tactics from late 80s/early 90s Holland to modern day England. How the various countries shaped their systems and how current day England is the melting pot where all systems came together to give England an identity that is aspects of everything.

Enjoyable read.
Luis Orozco
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been reading Michael Cox’s tactical analyses for years, and getting them in book form (first The Mixer for English football since the start of the Premiership, now Zonal Marking for European football since the early 90s) is an absolute treat. I’ve learned to watch and understand football through his prose and my enjoyment is all the better for it.
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant insight into not only European football but culture as well. A fantastic follow up to The Mixer!
Ad Basset
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
A well written analysis of the modern European football and its tactics that differs and distinguishes from a country/ league to another.
Adam Griesbach
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think that this was a very good book and the theme was soccer can bring people together and bring them apart.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Michael does a fantastic job of covering what’s happened in football since the 1992-93 champions league inaugural season whilst also looking back at history. The book is a must read for any football fan interested in how we got to where we are today.
May 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Building on Cox's first book The Mixer, an investigation into the history of premier league tactics, Zonal Marking is a history of European football tactics from 1992 (new back pass rule, rebranding of Uefa Cup) to 2019. Using a chronological and nation-state based approach, Cox maps the shifting balance of football power across Europe from Netherlands - Italy - France - Portugal - Spain - Germany - England. Doing so, in each chapter he focuses on the tactical innovations particular to each nati ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: football
I did enjoy this, and while staying true to his tactical roots Cox discussed the changes in European football drawing on interviews from other books, along with off-pitch events when relevant. I would perhaps have preferred a bit more in brief on the countries after each 4 year period, along with a few tweaks to make it flow better, but in the most part it was as good as The Mixer.

Cox had claimed that originally this was to be a look at each of the 7 major European football nations, and that the
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Zonal Marking : The Making of Modern European Football (2019) by Michael Cox is a very enjoyable tour of the last 30 years of European Football. Cox's excellent Zonal Marking site and his football analysis is greatly enjoyed by many people who are fascinated by football. Cox has followed up his previous excellent book 'The Mixer' with another really fine read for football nerds.

In Zonal Marking Cox looks at how European tactics have changed over the past 30 years by focusing on one European coun
Taufiq Ul Alam
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it

I loved this book so much that I finished it within a day's time. It rekindled my old obsession with footballing tactics and made me feel nostalgic at times. Michael does an excellent job, honestly. I never, for a moment, felt bored. There was a surge of energy and excitement within me before and after every chapter.

The structure of the book is praiseworthy, and it is clear to me why it's essential to incorporate English football, home to the most competitive league in Europe, in Michael's
Rohan Crickmar
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Michael Cox has assembled a real pleasure-read overview of the major tactical and ideological currents within European Football since the 1990s.

The structure takes us from the Ajax teams of Cruyff and Van Gaal to the current Premier League duopoly of Man City and Liverpool, with detours into French and Portuguese interludes and the sustained tactical innovations of Spain and Germany. As much as the book's destination is the Premier League 's monied men, Cox is really trying to articulate a subt
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
This is a fantastic book if you live and breathe football/soccer. Cox presents an insanely researched and detailed history of modern European soccer as dominated by the “eras” of seven prominent countries: the Netherlands and Total Football, Italy and catenaccio, France and its star player Zidane, Portgual and the greats (coach Jose Mourinho and goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo), Germany and gegenpressing, Spanish tiki-taka, and England - whose dominance was a “general summary of the modern European ...more
Николай Алексиев
There's truly an unsatisfied demand for books like this, covering football in tactical, and more broadly, intellectual terms.

If you've read The Mixer, you'll be in familiar territory. Many of the tactical developments in this book are hinted there, as they undoubtedly influenced English football.

Otherwise, it's a very original way of presenting the development of football tactics in Europe during the last 25 or so years, with focusing on the contributions of the seven major football countries o
Russell George
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
The problem, for me, with books about football tactics is that whenever the author cites a match or just a goal to illustrate a point, you always want to watch a video clip to see exactly what the author means.

Nevertheless, I did really enjoy this. It’s less confusing than Jonathan Wilson’s ‘Inverting the Pyramid’ partly because its aims are more modest; where Wilson chartered the evolution of tactics from the origins of football, Cox focuses on relatively recent developments, beginning with th
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In "The Mixer", Michael Cox provided an analysis of the progression of football in the English Premier League from it's inception. In this, his second book, he takes on the more daunting prospect of a similar time frame across European football, with historical influences thrown in for good measure.
The result is something astonishing in both it's breadth and depth. You'll find references to some deeper dives into individual nations, leagues, managers and teams, but as an over-arching analysis of
Ali Rizvi
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Will take you to a glorious ride through the years of Football (Soccer) and give you a nice coverage of the philosophies of the Dutch, Italians, Portuguese (not as much as the others), Spanish, Germans, and English (lol, their own style was notorious, but their domestic league, containing world-class managers from the aforementioned nationalities, is what the main attraction is, here).

Must-read if you are a Football (Soccer) fan. Especially, if you're into tactics, analysis of the ga
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Following on from his excellent book on tactical development in the Premier League ('The Mixer'), Cox casts a wider net over European football over the last half a century, charting shifts in tactics and momentum on both the international and domestic stages.

As with The Mixer, it is hugely detailed and yet fully comprehensible, even to those with only a basic knowledge of tactics.

Filled with anecdotes and quotes from the biggest names in football, it is hugely illuminating. One example is a loo
Jason Raj
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Any football fan who truly loves the game, and who wants to understand it, should read this book.

Cox's insightful yet concise tactical analyses of matches is legendary, and this books provides a similarly accessible explanation of how European football as a whole has evolved tactically. Other than a brief but necessary history of Dutch football and Ajax in the 1970s, this covers the early 1990s to 2018 (i.e. the Premier League era). The benefit of this period (especially the latter half) is that
May 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 and 1/2 star

A very interesting book, being a football fan who's grown up in this era, its good to see a different side of football that you miss from just watching matches; it is a more tactical and geopolitical macro view of football across europe rather than the basic level micro punditry you get during a match, or miss altogether consuming matches through other media sources.

The only criticism I can give of this book and the reason i haven't marked it higher is Cox's want to describe key ma
Bernard Tan
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Book 6 in May. While I loved "The Mixer", this latest offering by Michael Cox did not have the same impact. This book is a collection of interviews, description of matches (which prompted me to interrupt the reading and watch the highlights on YouTube - so this book took quite some time to complete!) and observations on players and playing styles over three decades of European football. He tracks the movement of influences in football from the Dutch, to the Italians to the French, to the Spanish ...more
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: football, sports
Super interesting history of European football strategy from the 1990s through to now. The author argues that during this time, one country (through both its national team and leagues) was the dominant force in driving European strategy; from the Netherlands, to Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and finally England. Whereas this division of 'dominant culture' serves more of a rhetorical function than anything else, the discussion of the development of strategy is incredibly interesting, and this is ...more
May 29, 2020 added it
The recent history of tactics in European soccer. Cox analyses the big seven soccer nations of Europe in order of when they were preeminent beginning with Holland in the early 1990s and finishing with England. Lots of good scuttlebutt as well as insightful profiles of managers Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. Talk of player formations can get a little bit much but the author knows his soccer. If you have to ask what catanaccio, false 9, geggenpressing, tactical periodization or tiki taka are aft ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Mixer: The Story of Premier League Tactics, from Route One to False Nines
  • Football Hackers: The Science and Art of a Data Revolution
  • Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics
  • The Barcelona Legacy: Guardiola, Mourinho and the Fight For Football's Soul
  • Das Reboot: How German Football Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World
  • Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World's Greatest Sports Rivalry
  • Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Football
  • The Names Heard Long Ago: How the Golden Age of Hungarian Football Shaped the Modern Game
  • Soccernomics
  • The Club: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports
  • 1312: Among the Ultras, A journey with the world's most extreme fans
  • Bring the Noise: The Jürgen Klopp Story
  • The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Soccer Is Wrong
  • Behind the Curtain
  • Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game
  • State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game
  • Done Deal: An Insider's Guide to Football Contracts, Multi-Million Pound Transfers and Premier League Big Business
  • My Life in Red and White
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
18 likes · 7 comments