In this post, we explain the football expression ‘unmarked’, which featured in the 2018 World Cup opening game.  unmarked

  • Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below.
  • You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

Football Language: Unmarked

A defender’s job in football is to prevent goals and one way of doing this is by marking an opponent. This means standing very closely to him or her so that they are unable to create a chance, assist a team mate or shoot on goal. You might hear the phrase ‘marked tightly’ which means that the forward has very little space as the deffender is always very close, indeed, there is a phrase ‘to mark someone out of the game’ which means that a dangerous player has not been able to create much in the game due to the marking from the defender. However, defenders sometimes forget to mark their opponents leaving them free to shoot or score and this is when we use the phrase ‘unmarked‘, as in  ‘the striker was completely unmarked‘, he or she was completely free. In the 2018 World Cup opening match between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the Asian side left Russian player Gazinskiy completely unmarked and he headed the ball past the keeper to open the scoring for the hosts. To be unmarked/To leave a player unmarked.

Example: ‘There was no finer example of this than Russia’s opener, as two completely unmarked players stood side by side as they awaited Golovin’s cross’ (, 14th June 2018).

Welcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Soccer fans can enhance these skills with lots of free language resources: a weekly podcast, football phrases, explanations of football vocabulary, football cliches, worksheets, quizzes and much more at

Google | Facebook | Twitter | Mail | Website

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Football GlossaryEpisode 9