51 episodes

The Athletic’s Michael Cox, Tom Worville & Ali Maxwell break down the tactical & technical details of football past & present, focusing on a single subject each episode with the help of expert guests.

Zonal Marking - A show about football tactics The Athletic

    • Soccer
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

The Athletic’s Michael Cox, Tom Worville & Ali Maxwell break down the tactical & technical details of football past & present, focusing on a single subject each episode with the help of expert guests.

    Javier Mascherano: the accidental centre-back

    Javier Mascherano: the accidental centre-back

    The Athletic's Michael Cox and Ali Maxwell are joined by Argentinean football expert Rupert Fryer to celebrate the career of Javier Mascherano as he announced his retirement this week after an outstanding 17-year career.
    We chart his career starting with the early days coming through at River Plate, his move to Corinthians in Brazil, that bizarre spell at West Ham before establishing himself alongside Gerrard and Alonso at Liverpool under Rafa Benitez.
    Our focus then turns to his time at Barcelona where things really got interesting as Pep Guardiola, either by luck or design, converted him into a centre-back with surprisingly effective results.
    There's also discussion of his storied exploits for Argentina, serial runners-up during his time with the national side but not without some memorable highlights along the way, chief among them that tackle on Arjen Robben in the World Cup 2014 semi-final, if you know, you know.
    Sign up to The Athletic for just £1-a-week for access to Michael Cox's brilliant tactical analysis - simply head to theathletic.com/zonalmarking
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    • 46 min
    The top five overachievers across Europe this season

    The top five overachievers across Europe this season

    The Athletic's Michael Cox and Tom Worville join Ali Maxwell for a whistle-stop tour across Europe to look at five unheralded teams who have found themselves in unexpectedly lofty positions in the league table so far. Starting on home soil with high-pressing Southampton.
    We also head over to Italy to look at a swashbuckling Sassuolo side who find themselves second in Serie A, before crossing to Spain to look at the surprising top two of Real Sociedad, who we think could be the real deal, and Villareal who are of course managed by Unai Emery.
    There's also a trip north of the border for some detail on Rangers, currently nine points ahead of Celtic, with The Athletic's Rangers correspondent Jordan Campbell
    Will any of these sides go the distance and deliver on their early promise? We look at the numbers and the eye test to give you our verdict

    You can subscribe to The Athletic for just £1-a-week at the moment - head to theathletic.com/zonalmarking for access to Michael & Tom's unrivalled tactical & statistical analysis plus all the other brilliant content from our world class team of football writers
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    • 51 min
    Surviving the difficult second season in the Premier League

    Surviving the difficult second season in the Premier League

    The Athletic's Michael Cox and Tom Worville join Ali Maxwell for the second part of our series looking at the challenges of staying up after being promoted to the Premier League. This week we look at the various ways teams have gone about trying to establish themselves in their second season.
    Looking at how Leicester famously managed to win the league in 2015/16, back-to-back 7th placed finishes for Wolves, to Burnley's less heralded Europa League clincher in 2018, we examine what you need to do to thrive after you've survived.
    There's also plenty of cautionary tales too from the likes of Ipswich in 2001/02 to the Huddersfield side of 2018/19 plus teams like Bournemouth and Stoke who eventually went out with a whimper after appearing to have cracked it - what is it that these sides got wrong?

    Subscribe to The Athletic for access to Michael and Tom's unrivalled tactical and statistical analysis of the Premier League, Champions League and beyond - you can sign up for just £1-a-week by heading to theathletic.com/zonalmarking
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    • 44 min
    How to survive your first season in the Premier League

    How to survive your first season in the Premier League

    The Athletic's Michael Cox and Tom Worville join Ali Maxwell to debate the various 'do's and dont's' for a maiden season in the top flight of English football... 
    Is it better to sack or stick with the manager who brought you up? Discard the playing style and sure things up at the back? Splash the cash in the market or trust in the players who won so many games last year? The Zonal Marking team delve into the Premier League archives to find out...
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    • 48 min
    Bad Stats - where we are all getting it wrong when talking about football

    Bad Stats - where we are all getting it wrong when talking about football

    The Athletic's Michael Cox and Tom Worville join Ali Maxwell to get a few things off their chests about the use of statistics in the general conversation around football.
    Do assists really tell us anything about creativity? Why do we harp on about manager win percentages? Does it really matter that Team A haven't won at Team B's ground for 27 years? And don't get us started on pass completion percentage.
    All these and loads more sloppy statistics are picked apart, but it's not just one big moan-fest as the guys also provide some suggestions as to how we can be smarter with the data in the future.
    Subscribe to The Athletic for access to Michael Cox and Tom Worville's unrivalled analysis of football from all manner of tactical and data-driven perspectives - head to theathletic.com/zonalmarking to sign up for just £1-a-month
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    • 45 min
    How does Guardiola get Man City back on top?

    How does Guardiola get Man City back on top?

    The Athletic's Michael Cox and Sam Lee join Ali Maxwell to look at Manchester City's start to the season and assess the ways Pep Guardiola's side have changed their tactical approach since they last won the title.
    Why did they come up so short so often last season? What went wrong in the Champions League? Are there early signs of the same problems being an issue this season? Have we underestimated the loss of Leroy Sane and David Silva? Are we too quick to pounce on Pep at the first sign of anything going wrong?
    Sign up to The Athletic for access to Michael Cox's brilliant tactics pieces and Sam Lee's unrivalled Man City coverage - head to theathletic.com/zonalmarking to subscribe for just £1-a-month
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    • 52 min

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