In this post, we explain the football expression ‘to come up short‘ which is used to describe a team’s performance in a match or a tournament. If you have questions or comments, email us at: up short

  • Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below.
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2018 World Cup Language: Come up short

When England fans look back at the 2018 World Cup they will probably see their team’s performance as a pleasant surprise as few would have predicted that they would make the last four, that they would win a knock-out game or that they would make it through a penalty shoot-out. Getting to the semi-finals was a fantastic achievement for the Three Lions but their manager Gareth Southgate reminded people that even though they reached the last four they were probably not ‘a top four side‘. He even suggested that against the better, more technical sides, the team had fallen short or come up short against these teams. To come up short means that a team has not managed to reach the highest level; that it has not managed to defeat any of the so-called stronger teams. This was the case with England as they managed to beat Sweden and Colombia in the knock-out rounds but failed against Croatia and Belgium – two sides with more players playing at a higher level. Of course, Southgate was not suggesting that England are a bad side simply that they would have to improve against these teams in the future. To come up short or to fall short.

Example: ‘Against the very best teams, we’ve come up short’ (Southgate in the July 15th 2018)

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Learn English Through FootballWelcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Football fans can practise with lots of free language resources, including football-language podcasts and our huge football-language glossary.

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