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2018 World Cup Language: One side of the draw

In this post, we explain the football expression ‘One side of the draw‘ which is connected to tournament football. The audio file for this language explanation can be accessed by becoming a patron (through Patreon). If you have questions or comments, email us at: side of the draw

  • 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.

2018 World Cup Language: One side of the draw

International tournament football is usually divided into two parts: the group stage and the knock-out stage and this knock-out stage usually consists of 8 or 16 teams, so for example, the 2018 World Cup has 16 participating teams. In order to help with organisation, the knock-out stage is usually divided into two parts or sides of the draw with winners and runners-up from certain groups being drawn on one side of the draw and the others on the other side. This means that teams can predict, or at least try to predict, which other team they may face in the knock-out stages – they may be able to ‘plot their path‘ to the later rounds. Before the 2018 World Cup, many fans in England thought that they would have to play either Germany or Brazil if they reached the quarter-finals according to the draw but when Germany failed to qualify for the last 16 things became more ‘open’. Indeed, with Argentina finishing as runners-up in their group, one side of the 2018 World Cup draw had France, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Uruguay and Portugal all battling to try and make it through to the final. This was compared to the other side of the draw which included Spain, Croatia, Colombia and England as well as hosts Russia which, on paper, appeared to be an easier side of the draw. This became even more pronounced when many people’s favourites Spain were eliminated on penalties by Russia leaving all the remaining countries thinking that they had a chance to reach the final. Some comemntators and pundits have claimed that this is the easier side of the draw but as we know there are no easy games in football!

Example: Belgium Beats England 1-0, Moves into Tougher Side of Draw (NY Times, June 28th 2018)

Example: ‘It means they avoided the side of the draw that included four of the other top seven sides in the Fifa rankings’ (, July 3rd 2018)

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