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Football Language: Grudge Match

In this football language post we explain the football phrase ‘grudge match’ which is linked to football rivalries. 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 Expression: Grudge match

To hold a grudge is to have a bad feeling against someone because of something that has happened in the past. Of course, in football a lot of history builds up between clubs and if there has been some bad feeling in a game then the next time the teams meet the game becomes a grudge match. Examples of grudge matches this week include: Porto against Chelsea, of course, Mourinho used to be the manager of Porto and when he left he took some key players and staff. Some of the Porto fans have not forgiven him. A grudge match with a longer history is Real Madrid versus Bayern Munich. The Spanish side knocked Bayern out of the Champions League twice, in 2001 and 2004, while Bayern thrashed Madrid 4-1 and 4-0 in 2000.

To this list of grudge matches you can add Manchester United versus Arsenal – they were involved in some big battles in the first decade of the century: Pizzagate – when United became the first team to beat Arsenal in 50 matches; the tunnel bust-up between Roy Keane and Patrick Viera in 2005 and the Van Nistleroy missed penalty and Martin Keown celebration the following year all helped to create one of the biggest grudge matches in English football at the time. Grudge match.

  • Example: West Ham v Sheffield United: The Premier League grudge match with 13 years of baggage (BBC, 25 October 2019)

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Learn English Through Football

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