Best football manga to read before the World Cup

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The World Cup is a celebration of the best international football teams in the world, and the 2022 tournament will be no different. But while the official group draws take place in early April, tournament matches won’t start until November, meaning football fans around the world will have to wait a while to get their fix.

For those looking for a way to pass the time and build their excitement for the World Cup, here are five excellent football-based manga to keep you busy until the big tournament kicks off in earnest later this year.

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Giant Killing: Focus on football events off the pitch


giant murder

Football isn’t just what happens on the pitch, and behind every great player are months of intense training and a massive support squad. giant massacre, written by Masaya Tsunamoto and illustrated by Tsujitomo, focuses on this element and presents a unique take on the sport. The story follows Tatsumi Takeshi, a former prodigy who left East Tokyo United to go to England and become a manager. In the years since his departure, he has established himself as a great, if somewhat eccentric, coach.

East Tokyo United, struggling to avoid relegation and retain their fan base, hires Tatsumi as their coach. However, despite other teams having better facilities and larger budgets, Tatsumi quickly proves himself an expert in killing giants. This series’ focus on behind-the-scenes elements of sports and the nature of training sets it apart from the crowd. giant murder is available through Kodansha.


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Whistle! : Proving that the smallest guys can have the biggest impact


Whistle

Written and illustrated by Daisuke Higuchi, Whistle! started in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1998. The story follows high school student Shō Kazamatsuri, a young boy who wants to join his middle school football team, Musashinomori. However, Kazamatsuri is small and falls under the school team‘s minimum height requirement.

Not letting that stop him, Kazamatsuri transfers to a new school and claims he was a member of the legendary Musashinomori team. However, when discovered, he bows out and plans to train very hard to prove himself and live his dream, despite his short stature. A fantasy story of teenage desire and capturing your dreams, Whistle! is a gripping read from start to finish. It is available in the United States through Viz Media.


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Blue Lock: a very different take on classic football history


blue lock

One of the most unique football manga out there. blue lock adds an almost dystopian twist to the usual format. Written by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and illustrated by Yusuke Nomura, the series follows Yoichi Isagi, a young boy selected for the mysterious new Blue Lock program, which was created after Japan withdrew from the 2018 World Cup. The Japanese government hires eccentric coach Ego Jinpachi in a desperate attempt to improve the team.

Ego decides Japan doesn’t have an arrogant, goal-hungry striker, so he rounds up 300 of the country’s best young players and locks them in the Blue Lock compound for intense training. To force players to compete, any player who drops out of Blue Lock will be banned from the national team for life, forcing them to give their all for the sake of their dreams. Leading to a unique, near-deadly twist of the genre, blue lock is available for reading and purchase through Kodansha.


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Sayonara, football is a fascinating history of women’s football


Sayonara Football

A rare series centered on women’s football, Sayonara, Soccer is written and illustrated by Naoshi Arakawa. The story follows Nozomi Onda, a 14-year-old girl who loves football and trains constantly. However, she struggles to beat the bigger boys around her and regularly sees them rise through the ranks faster than her.

But after meeting a former teammate, Nozomi decides she can’t wait any longer and kneels down to do her best and finally beat the boys who outmatched her. An interesting take on the “follow your dreams” narrative made all the more fascinating by its focus on gender issues, Sayonara, Soccer is a captivating read that will hook readers from the first page to the last. It is available in North America through Kodansha.


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Farewell, my dear Cramer mixes football action with serious drama


Farewell my dear Cramer

As Sayonara, Soccer, Farewell, my dear Cramer was also written by Naoshi Arakawa. Although the latter is technically a sequel, it brings a unique twist to the football format, making it a title in its own right. Two young women, Sumire Suō and Midori Soshizaki, are the stars of their respective college football teams. They are also fierce rivals. However, when they graduate and go to high school, Midori offers to team up with Sumire.

Together, the girls join the failing Warabi Seinan High School team and aim to turn the tide. Along the way, they’ll have to battle other teams and even their own school’s administration while navigating their own relationship. Farewell, my dear Cramer features a unique take on a sports drama and is packed with intriguing characters, all of whom have memorable interactions. It is available to read in English via Kodansha.

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