2022 World Cup Language Podcast: The Final – On Penalties

Today’s World Cup language podcast looks back at some of the language from the 2022 World Cup final. We’ll be looking at some phrases from The Guardian newspaper report on the extraordinary final including, ‘on penalties‘; ‘unplayable‘ and ‘side-on volley‘. 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: The final

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 London and I’m one half of the Languagecaster team with of course the other member Damon based in Japan. I wonder did he manage to get up and watch the final – the World Cup final – live? And what a final it was!

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Danish)

Right, on today’s World Cup language podcast we will be looking back at some of the language used to describe some of the key moments from that amazing 2022 World Cup final. Congratulations to Argentina on winning their third World Cup title after an incredible game that finished 2-2 after 90 minutes and then 3-3 after extra time with Argentina finally winning 4-2 in the penalty shoot out. We’ll discuss the term ‘on penalties‘ which of course was the way that the title was decided, while we’ll also look at some of the words and phrases to describe Mbappé’s performance including the phrase ‘side-on volley‘. We also explain two terms that describe poor misses – specifically for the French side: ‘failed to convert’ and ‘drag wide‘.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in French)

On penalties

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Argentina beat France on penalties to win World Cup after stunning final (Guardian.co.uk, December 18 2022)
When a game in the knock-out rounds of a tournament such as the World Cup finishes level after 90 minutes it moves into extra time. This is a period of two 15-minute halves in order to see if one of the teams can find a winner. If this extra time is still level then the game is decided on penalties: each side takes five kicks – five spot kicks – and the team who scores the most wins the game and in yesterday’s case, wins the tournament.

In yesterday’s World Cup final match, France striker Kylian Mbappé scored a late brace to send the game into extra time after Argentina had dominated the first 80 minutes. Extra time brought more drama as both sides scored again and there were numerous other opportunities to win the game but the extra 30 minutes finished all square (or level) at 3-3. Three all. So, the game went to penalties and after France missed twice, Argentina scored all four of theirs to win the title – they won the 2022 World Cup on penalties. They are the third country to win the World Cup on penalties after Brazil in 1994 and Italy in 2006 (also defeating France). This was also the second time that Argentina won a match at this tournament on penalties after defeating the Dutch in the last-16.


Mbappé, who was unplayable from the 80th minute  (Guardian.co.uk, December 18 2022)
Unplayable is used to describe a performance from a player that is so good that they cannot be stopped by the opposition. If a player is unplayable it means the other team cannot play because this player is so good but we also simply use it to describe a wonderful performance from a player and in yesterday’s game, Mbappé was unplayable from the 80th minute onwards. First, he converted a penalty to bring Les Bleus back into the game and then he scored an amazing equaliser and after that he constantly created attacking opportunities for France to try to win the game. The Argentinian defence could not stop him, they could not get near him and for 40 minutes he was unplayable.

Side-on volley

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…the second a sublime side-on volley (Guardian.co.uk, December 18 2022)
We know that a volley is when a player hits the ball while it is still in the air – before it hits the ground – and striking or hitting the ball in the air is a difficult skill as the ball is more difficult to control. A half volley is when the ball bounces and is rising from the ground and is then hit by a player – another very difficult skill. In yesterday’s final, Mbappé hit a volley while leaning to one side – he hit the ball first time into the net which showed not only great technique and balance but also confidence – nearly everyone else would have controlled the ball before shooting but the French forward wanted to hit the ball before the Argentinian keeper was ready. The Guardian newspaper called it a ‘side-on volley‘ as he was leaning slightly backwards or maybe even to one side. It was an amazing piece of skill – the side-on volley.

Failed to convert

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Randal Kolo Muani… will have nightmares about the one-on-one that he failed to convert (Guardian.co.uk, December 18 2022)
The French substitute Randal Kolo Muani was put through on goal in the last minute of extra time and he hit his shot first time and on target but the Argentinian keeper Martínez stretched out a left leg and blocked the ball. This was one of the many crazy moments that took place in the final minutes of the game when both sides could have won the game as the play went from end-to-end. This was a match-winning save from the Argentine keeper although the Guardian newspaper suggested that it was a miss rather than a save after writing that the French striker ‘failed to convert‘ which means he did not score. To convert a chance means to score from a chance and here – in the final moments – Kolo Muani did not score; he failed to convert the chance.

Drag past the post

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Tchouaméni dragged his kick past the post. (Guardian.co.uk, December 18 2022)
As we’ve already mentioned, the final went to penalties and France missed two of their kicks to hand Argentina the title. The French player, Aurelian Tchouameni, knew he had to score his penalty – the fourth – to give France any chance of winning but after a lot of gamesmanship from the Argentinian keeper, who was subsequently shown a yellow card, the young French midfielder hit the ball wide of the post. Possibly because he did not hit the ball cleanly, it did not go where he wanted it to go so we can say that he dragged the ball wide. This means that the ball went too far to the left-hand side (for a right-footed player) and vice-versa for a left-footed player. To drag a shot means to not ‘catch’ or to hit the ball cleanly and so the power and direction are both affected and the ball goes wide – or away from the intended target. This miss from Aurelian Tchouameni allowed Montiel to score the winning goal – the shoot-out finished 4-2 to Argentina.

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Now, if you want to ask us any football-language questions or simply say hello 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.

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


DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster and that message was from an Irish fan. 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 for this short podcast and there’s lots of vocabulary support – we explain lots of the meanings of these words in the transcript, 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 teachers and students are using these materials.

OK, that’s it for this podcast in which we looked at the phrases, ‘on penalties‘; ‘unplayable‘; side-on volley‘; ‘failed to convert’ and ‘drag wide‘ from that amazing 2022 World Cup final. We’ll be back with some more football language very soon. Enjoy all the football and we’ll see you then. Bye bye!

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PodcastEpisode 237