Day 2 of the World Cup saw three matches being played: one from Group A and the other two from Group B, including Wales against The USA and it is this game that we feature in today’s football language podcast. We explain the classic football cliche, ‘a game of two halves‘. You can read the transcript for this podcast below, while you can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

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Football Language Podcast – 2022 World Cup Language: Game of Two Halves (Wales 1-1 USA)

DF: Hello again everyone and welcome to – the football-language podcast for learners and teachers of English. This is Damian and I along with Damon, who’s based in Japan, form the Languagecaster team. And over the next month or so, we will be explaining some of the words and phrases from the 2022 World Cup currently taking place in Qatar. On this short podcast, I’ll be looking at the classic football cliche, ‘a game of two halves‘ from the Wales versus USA match.

Stinger: You are listening to (from Brazil)

Game of two halves

The phrase, a game of two halves is one of the great football cliches; remember that a cliche is a saying that, although it my have lost some of its power or indeed its original meaning, is still happily used by a group of people who share common interests. They are a bit of fun. In football, there are lots and lots of football cliches – phrases that we love to use even though we know they may sound a little… strange or even cheesy. Perhaps one of the most famous of these cliches is ‘a game of two halves‘ which is not simply a description of how a typical match is divided into two 45-minute parts but this phrase has much more meaning behind it. A game of two halves could suggest that the first half of a game is quite dull, boring and defensive with few attacking plays, while the second half is the opposite – lots of attacks, end-to-end football and maybe goals and incidents. So, if one half is very different from the other half we can use this cliche. Perhaps the most common usage though, is when one team is much, much better than their opponents in the first half – they totally outplay them – but then after the break, their opponents play much better than them. And this is what happened in the Wales versus USA match on day two of the 2022 World Cup.

In the first half, the US team dominated the Welsh side – they outplayed them and didn’t let them play their own game. They took the lead through Weah and really should have added more goals to their total but Wales got to half-time only 0-1 down. Of course, at half-time the managers have a chance to talk to their team – maybe they shout at them to try and raise their game or maybe they simply make a tactical change or switch. The Welsh manager Rob Paige made a switch by bringing on a big centre forward, Kieffer Moore, and his hold up play helped bring the Welsh team back into the game. The momentum changed and suddenly the American press was not as strong as the first half and Wales were starting to pressure their opponents. Then, in the 82nd minute Gareth Bale won and then scored a penalty to earn the Welsh team a valuable point. Wales were resurgent in the second half which means that they came back to life and they went onto the front foot – they attacked much more, while the US team either ran out of steam (or energy) or did not know how to react to the Welsh changes. Both teams shared the points and will feel they still have a chance of progressing to the knock-out stages. But this was a definite example of the phrase, a game of two halves.

Stinger: You are listening to (In Spanish)


Now, if you want to ask any football-language questions or simply say hello during the World Cup then you can do so by adding a comment on our site here or by using our forum. You can also send us an email at and you can also look out for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Don’t forget to join our Predictions competition which you can find on our site. It’s three points for a perfect prediction and one point for a prediction that is right but doesn’t have the exact score. No one in the competition picked up any points from the shock of the tournament so far – Saudi Arabia’s win over favourites Argentina. Come along and join in.

Stinger: You are listening to (Polish fan).


DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was from a Polish fan. It would be great to hear from anyone else who might like to share this message, ‘you are listening to‘. Don’t forget there’s a transcript to this short podcast and there’s lots of vocabulary support which you can access by coming along to our site. We think it’s a great resource for those learning and teaching the language.

OK, that’s it for this second of our daily World Cup football language podcasts. We looked at the football cliche, ‘a game of two halves‘. Let’s see if there are any more examples of these kinds of games over the next couple of weeks. We’ll be back with some more World Cup football language tomorrow. Enjoy all the football and we’ll get back to you soon. Bye bye!

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Football ClichesEpisode 205