2022 World Cup Language Podcast: Quarter final – Argentina v Netherlands

Today’s World Cup language podcast looks back at the quarter-final match between Argentina and Netherlands which the South American side won on penalties. We’ll be looking at the phrases, ‘melee‘, ‘squander a lead‘ and ‘to come out on top‘. 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 admin@languagecaster.com.

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2022 World Cup Language Podcast: Quarter final – Argentina v Netherlands

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DF: Hello again everyone and welcome to Languagecaster.com – the football-language podcast for learners and teachers of English. This is Damian and I’m based here in a freezing London – okay, it’s just minus 1 here but it’s still really cold! I’m one half of the Languagecaster team – the other one is Damon who is based in Japan. I wonder did Damon get up to watch the wonderful quarter-final action yesterday? I remember watching the 1998 World Cup when I was living in Japan and being absolutely exhausted by the end of the tournament with so many post-midnight matches. All great fun!

Right, on today’s World Cup language podcast we will be looking back at one of the games of the tournament so far, the Argentina versus the Netherlands quarter-final game. What a match! Not so much for the quality but for sheer excitement and thrills and of course the bad blood between the two sides – there were 18 yellow cards (or cautions) handed out by the referee which is a World Cup record. The referee was described as ‘overly fussy‘ which is a great expression and means that the referee stopped the game every time there was an infringement or foul, no matter how small this might have been. The game looked as if it was done after Argentina scored their second goal in the 73rd minute thanks to a Messi penalty but amazingly the Dutch scored two late, very late goals, including a well-worked training routine free kick which surprised the Argentinian defence and sent the game into extra time. The football cliche2-0 is the most dangerous of leads‘ was being used by many commentators at this point. No more goals in extra time meant penalties which the Argentinians managed to win to send them through to the semi-finals.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (from the Netherlands)

OK, let’s have a look at some of the words and phrases that came out of this wonderful match. First of all we will explain the phrase ‘melee‘ which describes the bad feeling between the two sides. Then we’ll look at the phrase ‘squander a lead‘ and then finally we’ll look at the expression ‘to come out on top‘.


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There was some bad blood or bad feelings among the players throughout the game – it was a very physical game with a lot of fouls and players were constantly arguing with the referee and each other. The referee did not help and seemed to lose control despite booking 16 players (eight from each side) as well as two members from the Argentinian coaching staff. The first major flashpoint or incident in the game occurred when Argentinian substitute Leandro Paredes fouled Nathan Ake in the 89th minute and then hit the ball directly towards the Dutch bench – their dugout. They all reacted angrily and entered the pitch to confront the Argentine midfielder and many of the other players also joined in with pushing, shouting and using lots of bad language. I often wonder in what language the players shout abuse at each other? Do they try to work out what other players understand? Do they use English as a lingua franca (the common language) or do they just use their first language and hope the opponent understands! Nearly all of the outfield players and lots of substitutes and staff were involved and this is known as a melee. So, a melee is a type of fight where lots of people are involved and although maybe no punches are thrown there is lots of pushing and shoving in an uncontrolled or disorganised way. There was a second melee at the end of penalties when the Dutch player Dumfries received his second yellow card after jumping into the Argentinian players and once again players and staff faced up to each other. Both sides have been charged by FIFA and will probably have to pay a fine and although some fans think these melees are negative, others (me included) think they are great fun as they show the real passion of the players.

Squander a lead

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Now, we have already mentioned the cliche ‘2-0 is the most dangerous of leads‘ to describe the fact that Argentina seemed to be coasting to victory when they scored their second goal late in the game only for the Dutch side to equalise with a late free kick routine. If a team loses a strong lead like this we can say that they have squandered a lead which means they have wasted their lead; the Argentinian side squandered a two-goal lead. Squander means to lose an opportunity when in a good position; so as the Argenine team was winning two-nil we could say that they squandered the lead. However, the Dutch side had all the momentum after their late equaliser but then failed to capitalise on this and lost out on penalties so maybe we could also say that they squandered a chance of qualifying.

Come out on top

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Some suggest that penalties are a lottery – this means that only luck is involved but others feel that penalties involve technique, skill and character and a really good goalkeeper. Argentina’s keeper, Emi Martinez, saved twice to help his side qualify for the semi final and as his team won we can say that they came out on top. This phrase describes one side winning over another but also suggests that it has not been easy – we would not really say that a team came out on top after a 5-0 thrashing for example. Argentina came out on top (they won) after a big battle against the Dutch side.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (from a Wales fan)


Now, if you want to ask us 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 admin@languagecaster.com and you can also look out for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and thanks to everyone who’s been in contact so far.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (Spanish fan).


DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was from a Spanish supporter. Why not think about dropping us a link to the phrase ‘you are listening to Languagecaster.com’ in another language – it would be great to hear from you. 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 and it would be really interesting to hear how learners and students use these materials.

OK, that’s it for this podcast in which we looked at the phrases ‘melee‘; ‘squander a lead‘ and ‘to come out on top‘ which all came from the Argentina victory over the Netherlands in the 2022 World Cup quarter final. We’ll be back with some more World Cup football language soon. Enjoy all the football and we’ll see you then. Bye bye!

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