This summer, The ICA Cinematheque's Offside season has been showcasing a subject oddly underrepresented in cinemas: football. The season draws to a close next week with a showing of Emir Kursturica's Maradona. In this piece I'll be examining two films from earlier in the run which have similar formats, but with a very different outlook on the beautiful game.

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006) begins with a single pixel, magnified to fit the entire cinema screen. It is joined by others, which multiply and zoom backwards until the subject is finally revealed: the statuesque face of Zinedine Zidane. Suddenly he moves; we move with him, and we will do for the duration of the film. Zidane is the ultimate one-man show.

The film is a decade old but has lost none of its curious power. Following Zizou for 90 minutes of a Spanish league game on April 23rd, 2005, between Real Madrid's Galacticos and Villarreal, the viewer sees only his movements, views the game only from his perspective. We watch him assessing, jogging into position, tackling, receiving the ball and moving it along, calling out to his colleagues. It is revealing - at times almost too revealing. For the majority of the game he is every inch the midfield sentinel, controlling, directing and gesturing. His poker-face is seldom broken (save for a joke late in the game with Roberto Carlos), further reinforcing the film's title: he is a most compelling portrait subject.

Occasional glimpses of the wider game, and bursts of crowd noise, provide all the context needed - the main narrative is internal, Zidane's own musings on life and football are subtitled, and a perfectly-judged soundtrack is provided by Mogwai. The music in fact reflects Zidane's own performance: stately for the most part, punctuated by moments of extreme beauty, and of devastating fury.

At half time we are shown a montage of world events that also occurred on the day of the game. We are prompted to ask: without this film, would we remember this day at all? Would this game merely appear as a line on Real's Wiki page? By recording it in this way, by making it more permanent and more accessible, are we blunting the thrill of football's immediacy?

It's perhaps not much of a spoiler to reveal that Zidane, having provided a glorious assist for Real's equaliser, is then sent off towards the end of the game. "Sometimes, genius is very close to nothing at all," the caption reads.

That may be true, but you can't help feeling that Zidane possesses more of the former than most. It may only be the second most famous red card that Zizou received, but it marks a fitting end to an extraordinary profile.

In contrast to Zidane's hyper-chronicling, The Second Game (2014) takes a more circuitous route to tell its story.

"Football is a perishable product. You watch it, and then you move on." So posits the gimlet-eyed Romanian former referee Adrian Porumboiu, the undoubted star of The Second Game and a man who must rank among the most cantankerous characters I've ever encountered in the cinema.

As with Zidane, the premise of The Second Game is seemingly simple: we are shown 90 minutes of the Bucharest derby (Steaua v. Dinamo), which took place in driving snow in December 1988 - a year ahead of a revolution that would change Romania forever. The commentary comes in the form of an interview between the film's director Corneliu Porumboiu and his father Adrian - who refereed the game. Perhaps inevitably, much of the game's early discussion concerns whether or not the pitch was playable. Adrian seems to hint that he was "encourage" to continue with the match despite the weather (there is also a frank discussion of his being tracked down by representatives of both teams before the game - the match was a crucial league decider). "The snow only started properly after kick-off'," he says, a little defensively, following an especially bleak shot of the shivering massed crowds.

Given the political context of the game, it would have been easy for Porumboiu to have served up a heavy-handed allegory. However, the conversational format allows the subjects to present themselves naturally; it helps that his father is such a natural raconteur that only the gentlest of prods is needed to send him on another tangent.

Despite his garrulous nature, the film does contain long pauses, 'um's, unfinished sentences, non sequiturs. Adrian takes a phone call at one point and has a short conversation about cattle (since quitting refereeing he has taken up farming; presumably he is a glutton for stress). This approach is initially a little jarring, but once the two men have established themselves to the audience and each other (one the young dreamer, one the older pragmatist), there is plenty to love about their respective worldviews. There is much ruminative discussion of the changing face of football, all of it riveting.

At one point, a disagreement occurs about the need to recall and record football. As previously mentioned, Adiran sees matches as "perishable" - a fleeting experience to be used up and left behind. Perhaps this is natural, considering the nature of his former career. Corneliu, naturally, feels differently - encouraging his father to see poetry in these grainy scenes. "There's no poetry here," Adrian insists, "nobody should be watching these things anymore. Why aren't we watching a Champions' League game?" He then goes on to spectacularly misremember Liverpool's Champion's League final win in Istanbul.

The most revealing moment of the film happens near the end. There is a bad tackle on screen. "Foul," says Adrian. But his younger self in 1988 disagrees, playing the advantage. He is briefly knocked back by this, but rallies: "Well, of course, the pitch looks like a farmer's field. It was very difficult to referee this game."

It's hard to disagree with him. The Second Game takes what could be an overwhelmingly niche subject and turns it into a minor classic of the sports genre.

And the match itself? It ends nil-nil. Somehow it feels like the right result.