Football Language: Dead rubber

dead rubberWhen neither side can progress to the knock-out stage of a competition – a meaningless game – we use the phrase ‘dead rubber‘ to describe such a game. I think the expression may come from tennis and in particular the Davis Cup tournament where countries play against each other in matches known as ‘rubbers‘ and sometimes the final rubber has no meaning as the overall result cannot be affected: a dead rubber. Recently Leo Messi played in a dead rubber game in order to try and break a goal scoring record; his side Barca were already through as group winners while their opponents Borussia Mönchengladbach could not qualify for the next round. Dead rubber.

  • Example: Albania versus Romania during the 2016 European Championship in France was a dead rubber as neither side could progress to the next round.

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