With the football season set to kick off again in Europe, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at those phrases that are so often used when people commentate on or talk about the beautiful game.
First, let’s think about the main aim of the exercise – to score a goal or, as they say informally, to put it in the net. An impressive player might manage this when they are not even near the goal, with a long-range-shot. An even more impressive player might score with an overhead kick (= a kick in which the player’s foot is higher than their head), also known as a bicycle kick. If this is the player’s first goal for a club, they might be said to open their account for that side. Or perhaps a player will score from a penalty and their side take the lead (= start to win). If they fail to score any more goals from this point onwards but also prevent their opponents from doing so, they will hold their lead. Indeed, if the opposing side fail to score any goals, a team may be said to keep a clean sheet.
And what problems might a football team experience? A striker might have gone for goal (= attempted to score) but, unfortunately, only managed to hit the crossbar (= hit the bar across the top of the goal). Maybe one of the side has committed a foul and been shown the yellow card by the referee. If the foul is judged to be particularly serious, or if it is the player’s second such offence, he will be sent off – shown the red card – and his team will be left playing a man short.
A team’s star player might be injured and in the treatment room. If they are really unlucky, their top goalscorer might be plagued by injury (= suffering a lot of injuries, one after the other) and unable to play for a whole season. If a player is out of action for any length of time, on returning to the game they might struggle to maintain fitness and suffer loss of form (= the inability to play as well as they are able). If this continues, they might even find themselves left on the bench, as one of the substitutes. Of course, the best player in the world will not stay young forever and will one day be considered a spent force (= someone who does not have the great ability and power they had in the past).
Whatever problems a side experiences, they are more likely to be successful on home turf (= playing on their own pitch). The home advantage is a well-established phenomenon, especially if the home faithful turn out in significant numbers to cheer on their heroes. But win or lose – to finish with two of football’s great clichés (= phrases that are used too much) – at the end of the day, it’s a funny old game is football.