In this post, we explain the football expression ‘final third‘ which is used when describing part of the pitch or part of how a team plays.Final third

  • 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.

World Cup Language: Final third

The football pitch, or the field, is divided into two halves by the halfway line but often football fans, managers and pundits will refer to thirds and in particular the final third when describing the game. The final third in football generally refers to the area from the space just outside the penalty area to the goal itself and so a commentator might say ‘the play has moved into the final third‘ meaning the ball is now in that attacking area. You will sometimes hear the phrases ‘defensive third’ and ‘middle third’ but ‘final third‘ is used more frequently.

The phrase can also be used to describe a team’s attacking performance, so we might hear that a team do not have much in the final third which means they offer no attacking threat, they are not very good up front. Creating chances in the final third is more difficult as the opposition defence ensures that there is very little space so players who do wel in the final third are highly regarded in the game.

Example: ‘One thing I have noticed from the big teams is that there has been a lack of vision and creativity in the final third of the pitch…’ (Cesc Fabregas on BBC.co.uk, June 22nd 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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