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10 great soccer-related shows to check out

Top 10 soccer-related documentaries to keep you distracted during COVID-19 pandemic

March 24, 2020 By Michelle Bonsu
Frustrated due to a lack of football because of the coronavirus pandemic? Well, as we all wait for life to return to normal, here are ten great soccer-related flicks you should consider checking out.

Since breaking out in Wuhan, China, sometime in 2019, the coronavirus has totally disrupted life on every single continent, bar Antarctica.

Scores of people have seen their otherwise ordinary existences turned upside down. In some extreme cases, such as in Italy, Spain, France, and most recently, the UK, entire nations have gone on lockdown, whereas in the United States, millions of people from California to New York have been forced to effectively hole up in their homes.

This shutdown of nations has disrupted the economies of many countries, with fears that countless people, especially those in service-based industries such as restaurants and hotels will struggle due to not being able to work and support their families.

Health-care workers worldwide are increasingly overwhelmed due to shortages of key medical supplies and lack of hospital space as they battle to save lives and in doing so, putting their own welfare at risk.

Meanwhile, for those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to do our jobs from home, there's still the worry about the future: When will this global pandemic end? Is this the start of worse things to come?

Sports have also suffered, as pretty much every league worldwide has now come to a screeching halt. In soccer, we have seen major tournaments, such as EURO 2020 already postponed. Another tournament scheduled for this year that would feature soccer teams, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, has now been bumped to 2021 as well. What repercussions will this have on the sporting calendar, especially with the 2022 World Cup looming on the horizon?

But not to fear.  It's not entirely doom and gloom as we all wait for things to eventually get back to some semblance of normality. There are still plenty of great soccer-related shows to tune into, even if it's not exactly the same as cheering on your favorite side over the course of 90 minutes of action.

Here are ten great documentaries you should consider checking out (and in some cases, binging on) as we are all pretty much stuck in our homes until this blows over. The overwhelming majority of these selections can be accessed via your Netflix subscription, so if you don't have one, now may be the time to consider signing up for a free trial and then look into one of their subscription packages.

1. Sunderland 'Till I Die (2018)

A fantastic documentary about the trials and tribulations of Sunderland during their painful 2017/2018 campaign which ultimately saw them suffer further humiliation as they attempted to battle their way back to the top flight from the Championship. This marked their first ever season in the second tier since 2006, and hopes were high that they'd make a swift return to the Premier League after a short spell in the second tier.

Unfortunately, things don't turn out as planned, which provides the perfect backdrop for, what at times, is a rather emotional documentary. You will literally feel as if you're on the roller-coaster along with Sunderland's devoted fans throughout the course of that difficult campaign. And that's exactly what we football fans really enjoy, right? It's the thrills of cheering on your favorite side, through thick and thin.

Here's an even bigger reason to tune in: The second season starts on Netflix on April 1st. So you'll definitely want to put aside some time to watch this one. With eight episodes in the debut season, with each averaging about 40 minutes, you will certainly be able to get through this in a weekend, no sweat.

2. First Team: Juventus F.C. (2018)

With just six episodes (two series of three episodes a piece) this Netflix series is one you could easily get through in one day, as each episode is only about 40 minutes long. Keep in mind, though: The focus of this is La Vecchia Signora's 2017/2018 campaign across all three fronts (Serie A, the Coppa Italia, and the Champions League), so fans will see some former players (like long-serving midfielder Claudio Marchisio) contributing alongside players who are still with the team.

You will also get to hear from some Juve legends, including Alessandro Del Piero. A great watch for any calcio fan who wants a taste of some Serie A action and is looking forward to things hopefully getting back to some kind of normalcy soon in the the bel paese.

3. Barca Dreams (2015)

Barca Dreams delves deeply into the history and concepts behind one of the world's most successful clubs, FC Barcelona.

And even if you are not a fan of Lionel Messi, don't fret. It's not entirely Messi-centric, as it covers a broad history of the club and how it became to be the institution that it is today. In all honesty, it's a solid documentary, regardless, especially for those of us who are history nerds and love the beautiful game. It also features none other than the legendary Johan Cruyff, among others. So yes, even Real Madrid fans can enjoy this thought-provoking, insightful analysis of the world-famous organization whose motto is "Mes que un club".

4. Forever Pure (2016)

One appealing aspect of sports for many people is that it's supposed to be something that unites individuals of different races, religions, socio-economic classes, nationalities. "Politics has no place in sports" is an often-used phrase to emphasize this, but unfortunately, in some cases, it could not be further from the truth.

In 2013, Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem signed two Muslim players, Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev. Rather than celebrating the acquisition of two exciting new additions to their squad, the team's fans erupted in rage to to bigotry. This documentary, created by an Israeli production team and featuring both Sadayev and Kadiyev, exposes how sport can't always unite people due to simmering hostilities and institutionalized racism that unfortunately still exists in Israel today.

A great one for people who are really interested in geo-political issues.

5. Apache: The Life of Carlos Tevez (2019)

A very interesting insight into the life of Carlos Tevez, who's now back at boyhood club Boca Juniors for a third spell. We all know him due to his exploits on the pitch, having enjoyed successful terms at big European clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, and Juventus, but there's more to a player than just his showings on the field. What has shaped him into the person he has become?

This series attempts to do just that, with it spread out over eight episodes, each under an hour - so in terms of watching time, you could also get this done in a day or two if you're in a binge-watching kind of mood.

It is not a full-out documentary - some aspects are dramatized for further entertaining effect - so it will be best described as a docudrama, but it is still one worth considering, nonetheless.

6. Boca Juniors Confidential (2018)

If we are going to have a series on Carlos Tevez, we certainly need to also have one on his club, Boca Juniors. This series will give you a great insight into Argentina's most successful club, as it provides feedback from fans, players, and others affiliated with the institution. For people not familiar with the legendary team, it is well worth a watch; for people who have been long-time followers, it still makes for some solid viewing.

It's quite short - only four episodes under one hour each - so you can easily complete this in one sitting after a leisurely lunch or just relaxing on a Saturday evening. You may want to add this one alongside the series on Carlos Tevez as well.

7. '89 (2017)

If you are a Liverpool fan, this may not be your cup of tea. Especially if you are old enough to actually remember the 1988/1989 campaign (and even if you're not, you probably will have heard about that season from your Reds-supporting dad, uncle, or grandfather). Plus, regrettably, 1989 was a very difficult year for Liverpool fans due to the tragic Hillsborough disaster that caused the demise of 96 Liverpool fans on April 15th.

Nonetheless, if you're an Arsenal supporter (or a neutral fan), this flick just may be one to check out.

Arsenal's 2003/2004 season was certainly iconic, but older Gunners fans probably also remember the 1988/1989 term, too. For those of us who weren't born yet, or were perhaps too young to even understand football on TV, this film will also help us get a better insight as to why.

Especially that final matchday at Anfield.

8. Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend (2019)

Unlike the Tevez series, this documentary on Antoine Griezmann is much shorter. It's only about an hour long, but it provides plenty of great interviews with those who know Griezmann the best - including coaches, teammates, and family. It covers his path from his humble beginnings at Real Sociedad to becoming an icon at Atletico Madrid, and eventually, of course, a world champion with France in 2018.

Moreover, quite like the Tevez series, you get a great look into what's helped him to become the player he has today. So add this one to your "to-watch" list.

9. Le K Benzema (2017)

Unfortunately, there was one star player who missed out on the chance for glory when France clinched the World Cup in Russia back in 2018. He also didn't get to feature in EURO 2016, and some wonder if he had, would France have been able to win that tournament on home soil?

There are some who feel that Real Madrid star Karim Benzema is a controversial player, but there are two sides to every story. This interesting investigative documentary does just that. You will get to hear directly from Benzema himself, and after watching this, then you can be the judge: Has he been judged fairly? Were his exclusions from the national team for EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup justified or too harsh?

10. Take the Ball, Pass the Ball (2018)

Another great documentary with Barcelona as the focus, except the highlight is Pep Guardiola's highly successful tenure from 2008 to 2012. You will also get to see the fascinating continuation of the intense rivalry between Guardiola and Mourinho, heightened further when the latter moved from Inter to Real Madrid in 2010. Unlike the other Barcelona drama, which spans a wider range of the club's history, this is more focused on current events, so there is of course, the development of Messi, as well as, more significant, Guardiola's development as a manager during his four years at Camp Nou.

This is the only one out of the ten documentaries on this list which is not offered on Netflix. You'll have to check out Amazon Prime instead to tune in.

Bonus: 21 Thunder (2017)

This one doesn't totally focus on soccer, but it is still a pretty decent watch nonetheless if you find after all this, you are still are counting down the hours with little to do. It's a drama series that focuses on the Montreal Thunder u-21 team and their lives both on and off the pitch; namely how can they balance their personal lives with their aspirations to become successful professional athletes?

Oftentimes over the course of this eight-episode season, conflicts off the pitch spill over into the locker room, and vice-versa. There are some interesting sub-plot lines to follow, namely issues of sexism, race, crime, and struggling to find one's way. Each episode is a bit over 40 minutes, so if you get hooked, you can also complete this one over the course of a few days.

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