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Football Language Expression: Challenge

Football Language: Challenge

challengeIn this football language post we look at some of the meanings of the word ‘challenge‘ in football including one connected to tackling another player. 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:

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The verb ‘to challenge‘ in football has a few different meanings. One of these is a difficult test of a team or a player – this match will be a challenge for United as they are playing a team in form means that the game will be difficult for United. We could also say that it will be challenging for United. We might also hear about the ‘challenging test’ for United which means a tough or difficult game. Managers often speak about an upcoming challenge which means that there is a tough game coming up, while a team can challenge for a tile or a championship which means they have a chance of winning it. So, for example, Tottenham are challenging for the WSL title in England.

Another meaning of the word ‘challenge‘ is related to tackling – so, a challenge is another word for a tackle. We can sometimes describe a tackle or challenge as fierce or hard and if a player is fouled because of a hard tackle we can say that they have gone down under a challenge – they fell over after the tackle. We can substitute the word challenge for tackle on nearly all occasions: a two-footed challenge – a two-footed hallenge for example.

  • Example: Callum Hudson-Odoi won a penalty, going down under a challenge from Mee, only for VAR to overrule and the Chelsea substitute earn a caution for simulation (Telegraph, 2019)
  • Example: United will have a tough challenge on their hands when they visit Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
  • Example: “I thought there was no malice in the challenge,” he said. “It was a fierce challenge. There was a time in football when those challenges were part and parcel of the game (Telegraph, 2019)
  • Example: McTominay was seen leaving Old Trafford on crutches, with Solskjaer fearful the Scotland midfielder damaged knee ligaments during a robust 50-50 challenge with Matty Longstaff…(Telegraph, 2019)

Related Vocabulary

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Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

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