To bully an opponent
When someone bullies someone else it means that they treat others – usually smaller or weaker – in a bad way. The phrase in football does not have such a negative meaning and is used when one player physically dominates another in a match, so for example, a forward easily pushes aside the defender when challenging for a ball. You might sometimes hear people say that a player ‘bullied the defence’ which means that he or she was much stronger than the defence.
Example: ‘Employing the muscular Italian Stefano Okaka to bully the visitors’ centre backs…’ (Jim White in the Telegraph online, 13th August, 2017).