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Football Language: (be) Caught Napping

Caught NappingIn this short football language post, we explain the phrase to be caught napping, often used in connection with defending. If you have questions or comments, email us at:

Football Language: (be) Caught Napping

The phrase is ‘to be caught napping’. Now, a nap is a sleep, and you can take or have a nap, meaning have a short sleep, maybe in the afternoon. But if you are caught napping, it means you have been surprised because you were not concentrating, you were asleep. In football, if you are caught napping, you have switched off, lost concentrating, and allowed the other team to get an advantage. It usually used, therefore, to talk about defenders allowing the other team to get an advantage. A classic example of this was in the semi final second leg of the 2019 Champions League between Liverpool and Barcelona, when Liverpool took a corner early, while the Barcelona team were talking to each other and getting into position; they were not ready, but worse, they were not concentrating, and Liverpool caught them napping. Here is how described the goal in their minute-by-minute match report: “Barcelona are caught napping!!! Alexander-Arnold walks away from the corner, but then spots Origi free in the middle, goes back to take it quick, and there is Origi to stay switched on and send it into the top corner!

We could also say the defence switched off, or the defence went to sleep, but somehow caught napping sounds as though the defence were even more at fault.

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Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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