In this football language post for learners of English, we look at the adjective phrase, ‘high-octane football‘. You can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

High-Octane Football

Cars need petrol, or gasoline, to run; football teams need fit and energetic players to do well. Sports cars need special petrol or gasoline to go faster, and this is called high octane petrol. This fuel is used for vehicles wanting to accelerate quicker, go faster, and perform better. Over the last few years adjective phrase has been used more and more to describe football teams that have a high intensity style of play. They press quickly, attack in numbers, and don’t let the opponents time on the ball. This kind of team employs a high octane style of football.

Example: ‘The last game of 2016 pits Jurgen Klopp against Pep Guardiola for the first time in the Premier League in what should be a banquet of high-pressing, high-risk, high-octane 21st century football with added goalkeeping flaws.’ (The Telegraph, 25 December 2016)

Example: ‘David Moyes’ stock has fallen – he is not the man to bring high-pressing, high-octane football to West Ham.’ (The Mirror, 7 April 2018)

Example: ‘It is in Chelsea’s interests to make this a high-octane encounter. For the creative Eden Hazard and Pedro to flourish, and to leave space for Diego Costa to run in behind, the Blues would prefer a fast-paced contest.’ (, 14 April, 2017)

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Football ClichesEpisode 806