game too far

In this football language post we explain the football phrase ‘a game too far‘ which is used when a team has managed to go further than expected in a tournament but then loses the next game – a game too far. Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary and we also have a page full of football cliches. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

Football Language: A game too far

The phrase ‘a step too far’ means that something has happened too soon, that someone or something is not quite ready to reach the next level. A game too far has a similar meaning with a team not quite ready to go all the way to a final or to win a tournament or competition. If we hear this phrase it suggests that a team has reached a level but cannot go much further as there are better sides left in the tournament or maybe that the team is inexperienced and can go no further – for now. We can also hear managers complain after a defeat that this was a game too far suggesting that their team was tired after playing too many games in a short period of time.

In the 2020 Champions League semi-finals RB Leipzig and Lyon both unexpectedly reached the last four after defeating Atletico Madrid and Machester City respectively in the quarter-finals but they were then unable to overcome the next challenge and lost against powerful sides PSG and Bayern Munich in the next round. Both teams did really well to reach this far but the step up to the next level proved to be a game too far for both of them.

Example: ‘Martinez – A game too far: Roberto Martinez believes the 4-1 Premier League defeat by Sunderland was a step (game) too far for his fatigued side.’ (Sky Sports, January 2012)

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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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