In this lesson you can learn how to talk about football in English. Even if you don’t like football it’s a great idea to know a little bit of football vocabulary! Why? When I go to different countries, if I’m wearing my football top, then more people just start speaking to me. When you know how to talk about football in English, it will be easier for you to start using your English and make new friends.
In this lesson, we’re going to go to a football match. It’s an important game for me, and I’m very excited. I hope you are, too! Ready? Let’s go.
1. Going To The Game
Let me take you to a game. We’re going to see my favourite team, Bournemouth. Their nickname is ‘The Cherries.’
Bournemouth are great to watch because they score a lot of goals! Unfortunately they let in a lot of goals too.
It’s a bit of a rollercoaster ride for their fans, but great for the neutral.
We’re playing Swansea in the Premier League. I’m really hopeful about this game because the last time we played Swansea was the last time we kept a clean sheet.
Also, we won our last game against West Ham, so it’s a chance for back to back victories.
Let’s take a look at some of the words I just used.
This is a real rollercoaster ride. Rollercoasters go up and down a lot.
When we are talking about sport, we use rollercoaster ride to mean something that can make you very happy one minute and then very sad the next minute and then happy again.
Think of your emotions going up and down, like they were on a rollercoaster ride.
Fan is another word for supporter. I support Bournemouth. They are my team. I am a Bournemouth fan.
A neutral is someone who does not support either of the teams who are playing in a match. If I watch Bournemouth play, of course I’ll support my own team. If I watch two Italian teams, I’ll be neutral. I don’t generally mind who wins, and I just want to see a good match.
When a team does not let in any goals in a game, they have kept a clean sheet. Goalkeepers like to keep a clean sheet, because it means they’ve done their job very well.
If a team wins two games in a row, they have won back to back victories.
Okay, fingers crossed for back to back wins. Let’s head to the match and continue to talk about football.
2. At The Stadium
Here’s the stadium; let’s take a look inside.
As you can see there are four stands. You used to be able to stand and watch the game but nowadays everybody is supposed to sit.
Traditionally the home fans go at one end, and the away fans go behind the other goal.
The two stands alongside the pitch are also for the home fans. At Bournemouth they are called the East Stand and the West Stand.
We’ll sit in the West Stand today as I have season tickets. This means I have the same two seats for every game. One for me and one for you.
We can see the dugouts where the staff of the two clubs will sit – the manager, his assistant and the subs.
The manager chooses the team and the tactics they will use, and is also responsible for how they train and prepare.
11 players start a game and there are 7 more who can be used later in the game.
These are the substitutes, or subs. The manager can use a maximum of 3 of them.
When he takes a player off, he can send a sub on.
3. Let’s Talk Tactics
Let’s talk about the tactics for this game!
I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve hit the post and crossbar this season! If we can just fire one in on target today, we’ll score – they’ve got a dodgy keeper.
Bournemouth have to be careful in this game because Swansea are very good from dead ball situations such as corners and free kicks.
I think Eddie – that’s our manager – will opt for a 4-4-2 formation today.
So there’ll be four defenders: two central defenders and two wing-backs.
Then, four midfielders: two holding players and two supporting the attack, plus two strikers up front.
We’ll be looking to keep possession using quick one-twos and triangles.
He likes the team to press up – we just have to guard against getting caught on the break.
Look, look there’s the ref and the players coming out of the tunnel. Eddie Howe’s Barmy Army. Cherries! Cherries!
Let’s take a look at some of the words I just used.
The goalkeeper – or keeper – is supposed to stop the opposition from scoring goals. A dodgy keeper is one who is not very good.
We also use dodgy for other things, such as cars that keep breaking down, or areas of a city that are not very safe. Dodgy is a conversational way to say bad.
A dead ball situation means that play has stopped. For example, one player fouls another, the referee will stop play and give the fouled player’s team a free kick.
Some players are specialists at free kicks, like Cristiano Ronaldo.
Corners are taken from the corner of the pitch. The corner taker will usually put in a cross—a pass which goes across the face of the goal. The strikers will try to get to the cross and score a goal.
Wing-backs play on the left or right side of the defense.
Holding players are defensive midfielders. They stay further back and protect the defenders.
Strikers play at the front. Their job is to score goals.
When your team is in control of the ball, they have possession.
The other team must try to win it back. We’ll be trying to keep possession, which means we’ll try to keep the ball as much as possible.
A one-two means that two players quickly pass the ball back and forth. Player A passes to player B, who returns it quickly to player A.
A triangle means three players form a triangle shape and pass the ball around quickly.
Pressing up is an aggressive style of play. It means we’re going to get into the other team’s half. We won’t let their players have time on the ball, even in their own half.
Sounds good, right? But there’s a problem: if all of your players are attacking, you might get caught on the break. The other team counterattacks quickly, which is dangerous because you don’t have many players at the back.
Ref is a short form of referee. He is in charge of the game.
Ready for more practice on how to talk about football?
4. Let’s Watch The Game!
The ref tosses the coin, our captain calls heads – and it is heads. We’ll take the kick off.
(45 minutes later…)
Well that’s the end of the first half. It was a bit of a cagey affair to be honest, but I’d say we just shaded it.
Let’s hope there’s more action in the second half. 15 minutes to get a cuppa and a pie – or do you fancy a quick one?
Right, the second half is underway.
The keeper rolls it out to our left back and he sets off up the wing.
He plays a perfect 1-2 with a midfielder and then some wonderful dribbling to beat two players.
He lays it off to our centre forward, who hears a shout of “man on” from one of his team mates.
He puts in a slide rule pass to the other striker, who fires it into the back of the net. One-nil! The crowd go crazy!
Let’s take a look at some of the words I just used:
Cagey means that both teams were playing very carefully. Cagey games can be boring, because both teams are trying not to lose, rather than trying to win.
We just shaded it means that we were slightly better than the other team. Maybe we created more chances, or had more possession.
A cuppa means a cup of tea or coffee. A quick one means a beer.
Dribbling means running past players whilst keeping the ball at your feet. Lionel Messi is probably the best dribbler currently playing.
He’s very good at running with the ball and getting past opposition players.
If you’re dribbling and you get past an opposition player, you beat them. If you say he beat two players, that means he got past two players who were trying to stop him.
If you lay the ball off you play a short pass, usually with the ball going backwards or sideways.
If you’re playing football and you hear someone shout man on, you need to pass the ball or move quickly, because an opposing player is coming to take the ball from you.
A slide rule pass is a very accurate pass that goes between opposition players. Mesut Ozil and Andreas Iniesta are well known for their slide rule passes.
He fires it into the back of the net means he scores a goal. If he fires it, it means he hits the ball hard, so it was probably a good goal. What am I saying? It was definitely a good goal!
(The second half begins…)
Bournemouth are controlling the game now.
That Swansea player has already been shown the yellow card by the ref and he’s just committed a very bad foul. What’s the ref going to do?
It’s a 2nd yellow card – two yellows equals one red and so he is sent off.
He has to leave the pitch. Swansea are down to ten men.
Bournemouth score again, with a header!
There’s the final whistle. 2-0 and three points to Bournemouth!
That pushes Swansea nearer relegation but we’re mid table now. We should be safe—I’m confident we’ll stay up and be in the Premiership again next season.
Hopefully Brighton will get promoted; it would be great to have a local derby next season.
At the end of the season, the bottom three clubs are relegated from the Premiership down to the Championship—one league lower than the Premiership.
The bottom three teams go down. The other teams stay up.
The top two clubs are promoted from the Championship up to the Premiership.
We say the promoted teams go up.
If Brighton are promoted, we’ll have a local derby next season.
A local derby is a match against a team from the same city or a nearby city. These teams are often fierce rivals—they are very competitive with each other.
For example, if Real Madrid play Atletico Madrid, that’s a local derby, because both teams are from the same city.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the game.
Don’t forget to practice some of the words you have learned to talk about football– use them to make new friends – or even when you are playing a game yourself!
I’ve told you who my favourite team are – so please tell me in the comments which team you support!
And who do you think is the best player in the world at dribbling? Who’s the best keeper and the best striker?
That’s the end of the lesson. I hope you enjoyed it!