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Football English

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The European Championships are well underway.

 This time there are no British teams in the final, but there is probably a lot of English being spoken by supporters from around Europe in Switzerland and Austria. Here are some expressions we use to talk about the 'beautiful game'.

People and Things

match - a game of football
'Is anyone going to watch the match tonight?'

pitch - the field on which a game of football is played.
'The pitch was soft after all the rain.'

goalkeeper - the player who can use his hands and wears gloves.

defender - the player who tries to stop a team from scoring. There are often 4 defenders.
'Maldini is a very experienced defender.'

midfielder - the player who plays in the middle part of the pitch

striker/ a forward/ an attacker - the person whose role is to score.
'Lionel Messi and Ruud van Nistelrooy are my favourite strikers'

captain - the player who wears the armband - the team leader on the pitch. Also called 'the skipper'.

substitute - the player who does not start the game, but may come on to play later in the game to replace a player.

manager – the boss of the team. He decides who will play.
'Donadoni is the current Italy manager.'


to foul - (noun: foul) to break the rules of football. For example, kicking another player or touching the ball with your hands.
'Players couldn't stop Zidane fairly, so he was often fouled.'

to take a penalty - a kick which is taken for a foul which happened inside the area.
'The referee gave a penalty, but the crowd didn't think it should have been.'

to take a free-kick - a kick which is taken for a foul outside of the area.
'Ballack is one of the best free-kick takers in football.'

to be given/shown a yellow card - a warning to a player for a strong foul. Also known as 'to be booked'.
'He was booked for using his hands.'

penalty shoot-out - Each team takes 5 penalties each after the end of 90 minutes and extra time (30 minutes if there is no winner).

sudden death - the situation where there is still no winner after teams have taken 5 penalties each. The first team to miss loses. 

to score a goal - to get the ball into the goal - the object of the game.
 'Ronaldo scored two goals in the final game.'

to score an own goal - to score a goal in the wrong goal. A big mistake!
'England lost after their captain, John Terry, scored an own goal.'

to win - to score more goals than the team you play against.
'I'm glad Germany won.'
'Who do you think will win?'

to draw - a game with no winner - both teams get 1 point.
'France drew with Italy, 1-1.'

to lose - not a win or a draw.
'My team lost. They were terrible.'
'There's no way Portugal can lose.'

to knock out - when a team is loses and can no longer play any more games they are 'knocked out'.
'Denmark were knocked out after losing their first three games.'

to be given/shown a red card - when shown a red card the player must leave the pitch. This usually happens after two yellow cards. Also called 'sent off'.
'He was sent off for two serious fouls.'


half-time - the break after 45 minutes of play.
'They were lucky to get to half time without letting in a goal.'

full-time - the end of the game after ninety minutes.
'The players looked tired at full-time'

injury-time - usually two or three minutes added on to the end of the game.

extra-time - an extra 30 minutes of play used when there is no winner after 90 minutes.