How do some of soccer’s smartest and most accomplished figures master the craft of the game? This in-depth analysis of modern soccer reveals how elite players and coaches strategize on and off the field to execute in high-pressure situations.
“A worthy addition to any soccer fan’s shelf.”—The Wall Street Journal
In Masters of Modern Soccer, America’s premier soccer journalist, Grant Wahl, reveals what players and managers are thinking before, during, and after games and delivers a true behind-the-scenes perspective on the inner workings of the sport’s brightest minds.
Wahl follows world-class players from across the globe, examining how they do their jobs and gaining deep insight from the players on how goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards function individually and as a unit to excel and win. He also shadows a manager and director of soccer as they juggle the challenges of coaching, preparation, and the short- and long-term strategies of how to identify and acquire talent and deploy it on the field.
These central figures share the little details that matter, position by position:
• Attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic explains why he wears his soccer cleats a size too small to make his first touch even better.
• Forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernández reveals the Mexican national team’s secret synchronized patterns that create space for him in front of the goal.
• Defender Vincent Kompany tells you why his teammates’ pressure on the ball means he can defend his man more tightly in the penalty box.
• Defensive midfielder Xabi Alonso describes his disdain for slide tackles and the tendency among even the best professional midfielders to play too closely to one another.
• Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer tells the origin story of his sweeper-keeper role, which has allowed him to redefine the position for the modern game.
• Head coach Roberto Martínez explains the differences between coaching clubs and national teams and why one of the first things he looks for in any game situation is numerical advantage.
• Director of football Michael Zorc discusses what he looks for when it comes to identifying players he can buy low and sell high, Moneyball-style, while still competing to win trophies.
The definitive analysis of the craft of soccer, Masters of Modern Soccer will change the way any fan, player, coach, or sideline enthusiast experiences the game.
Grant Wahl is one of the world’s leading soccer journalists. He’s the owner and creator of the Fútbol with Grant Wahl website and podcast, does television work for CBS Sports, and produces documentary films. His book The Beckham Experiment was the first soccer book to make the New York Times bestseller list. Wahl spent twenty-five years at Sports Illustrated, where he wrote more than three dozen cover stories. He has covered thirteen World Cups (eight men’s, five women’s).