The Great Game, the review: if the football business becomes a thriller series

The review of Il Grande Gioco: family intrigues, millionaire deals, the lights of Milan and a series that explores (in a fictional way) the hot business behind football. Protagonist, Francesco Montanari. Eight episodes on Sky and NOW.

Millionaire intrigues, facts and crimes, a family epic and the secular religion of our country. If it is a common opinion that football in the cinema or on TV is complicated material (but here we would have to object, breaking the texts), then the passion that unites and divides Italians can become an interesting subject, to be analyzed in the less traveled aspects. Or at least, in the aspects that are filtered by the newspapers. Think about it, as spectators we only see a small part of the great football apparatus: everything that happens outside the ninety minutes of play is shrouded in darkness. Statements in the press? Façade reflections. The dynamics of the locker room? Inviolable. Arbitration conjecture? They are nothing more than the personal opinions of those who are not directly involved. Not to mention the transfer market which, on balance, is the complete opposite of everything. From this starting point Tommaso Capolicchio, Giacomo Durzi, Filippo Kalomenidis, Marcello Olivieri and Andrea Cotti, based on an original idea by Alessandro Roja and Riccardo Grandi, write the eight episodes of The Great Gamedirected by Fabio Resinario and Nico Marzano and available on Sky and NOW.

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The big game: a scene from the series

At the center, revised, spectacularized and accelerated, precisely the economic and political dynamics that revolve around football. A panorama that, in recent years, we have come to know and, unfortunately, we have learned to consider them within the sports universe. Business of billions and billions, pirate negotiations, unscrupulous prosecutors and thriller twists. Here, the thriller: considering the story, built by exploiting the spectacularization of the subject, The Great Game can be considered as a dysfunctional thriller that exploits a defined frame, referring however to the explosiveness of the genre. In the midst of negotiations, pseudo-champions and a decidedly lustful Milan as a backdrop, the Sky series raises the question that binds the events: can money really buy everything?

The great game: Francesco Montanari besieged by the Sky Sport team (VIDEO)

Family romance. Between football and intrigue

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The Big Game: A Still from the Series

The answer must be found in the plot of the series. Despite a wonderful vintage Porsche, the manager Corso Manni (Francis Montanari) has become something of an outsider in the world of ballooning finance. He went from being the spearhead of the ISG’s prosecutorial team to outcast and outcast. Mistakes, wrong friendships, compromised dynamics. Football has a short memory, and being a real industry, it has no qualms about offloading talent. Whether they are sports talents or financial talents. All that remains for Corso, then, is to attempt the climb (again). To help him the young attorney Marco Assari (Lorenzo Aloi), who will support Corso in the fierce dispute of the Argentine champion Carlos Quintana (Jesus Mosquera Bernal) and the promising Antonio Lagioia (Giovanni Crozza Signoris). Two “phenomena” that he would not like to miss, and which could guarantee Corso a new personal path.

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The Big Game: A Picture from the Series

Economic dynamics, unexpected alliances and betrayals worthy of a spy novel blend with the uneasy presence of Dino De Gregorio (Giancarlo Giannini), unfriendly father of the prosecutor, and Elena De Gregorio (Elena Radonicich), i.e. the CEO of the ISG and the ex-wife of Course. But that’s not all: in full psychological thriller mood, it will be the entry onto the scene of Sasha Kirillov (Vladimir Alexsic), a Russian prosecutor, who will break the bank. How? Aiming to be the king of the Italian market, also and above all by purchasing the lands of the ISG.

The big game: the trailer for the series set in the world of football, from November 18 on Sky and NOW

Adrenaline and suspense

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The Big Game: A Moment from the Series

As defined by the authors themselves, The Great Game is something more than a series related to sports. In this case – despite a sometimes cumbersome superstructure and an extreme characterization with consequent situational overload – the ‘drama’ factor plays (to stay on topic) a crucial game. A fast pace that underpins the less traveled aspects of football, illuminating a business with a narrative filter that, year after year, has almost completely devoured the purest and most crystalline aspect of sport. Television rights, capital gains, budgets, clauses and fans who, unfortunately, have become “accountants”, forgetting instead how much the ball is above all a physical and tactical display. Fees take the place of goals, contracts are more important than passion. The Great Game props up with adrenaline and suspense what we hear on TV, then making the series a sort of family novel in which nothing is missing (perhaps there is too much?): self-destruction, ambition, lack of affection, greed.

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A still shot from the series The Great Game

For this reason the Sky series is a work that has its own character and a strong usability, as well as once again debunking the old myth that would like the impossibility of football translated into cinema or seriality: because then it all depends on how you face the topic, and how you choose to represent it. Il Grande Gioco explains that – alas – football is something else, and it is no less spectacular than a bicycle kick goal. An unscrupulous, spoiled and controversial parallel world that reflects on human paths. And it is here that the sports metaphor becomes a metaphor for life. A life that may have lost its magic, getting stuck between a thousand disappointments and a thousand expectations. After all, to answer the question: yes, money can buy everything. Everything but happiness.


We conclude the review of Il Grande Gioco by emphasizing how much the series is structured on the basis of an adrenaline-pumping pace, capable of keeping the attention high. The sports and football background is interesting, which follows dark and itchy dynamics.

Because we like it

  • Francesco Montanari, very credible in the role of the protagonist.
  • The espionage atmosphere.
  • Football as a metaphor for life.

What’s wrong

  • Some dynamics are a bit too loaded.
  • Humorous moments don’t work much.

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