Best Soccer Books (1)

El ClasicoSo many books, so much to choose from. Didn’t read everything in 2012 and best-of lists are things of wispy substance, but here’s four great soccer books. (Hopefully, too, somebody, somewhere, has my book The World is a Ball on a Best Soccer Books list.)

El Clasico: Barcelona v Real Madrid: Football’s Greatest Rivalry (Bloomsbury) by Richard Fitzpatrick. This is a truly fine, informative, lively and well-written book. Fitzpatrick takes the time to explain the context of the Madrid/Barca rivalry in terms of history and politics but doesn’t merely set down the old stories and convenient mythology. In some instances he demolishes cliche. He’s very good on the financial aspects, especially Barcelona’s wealth, which is too often considered tiny compared with that of its great rival. He’s also very good on Barcelona the 1980’s and has colourful vignettes of such legends as Bernhard “Bernd” Schuster, who played for both clubs. Best of all he explains and celebrates the reasons why Real and Barca inspire each to play better in every El Clasico and thus produce some of the greatest games ever played.

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