Football Language Podcast: 1986 World Cup Quarter final – France vs Brazil [From the Archives]

World Cup 2014 Spain vs NetherlandsEnglish Through Football Podcast – 1986 World Cup Quarter final – France vs Brazil [First published in summer 2020]: In this podcast the languagecaster team looks back at one of the greatest matches in World Cup history – the 1986 quarter-final match between France and Brazil. This is another game from the #WorldCupAtHome series from in which we look back at some of the words and phrases used to describe the game itself and of course we review what happened afterwards in the rest of the 1986 tournament.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the file below while you can also subscribe and listen to all our football-language podcasts. There is a transcript for this show which may help you to improve your language skills by reading as you listen, or if you are a teacher of English you can use the transcript to make different kinds of activities for your learners. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments then please email us at: (Damian=DF).


DF: Hello again everybody, this is Damian from the languagecaster team and you are listening to the Learn English Through Football Podcast. Yes, we hope everyone is well and safe, and of course still staying indoors as we wait for football to return – hopefully very, very soon.

Now as many will know, here at we have been following some of the classic World Cup matches that have been featuring on’s website in their #WorldCupAtHome series. We have already looked at the match between Spain and the Netherlands from the 2014 World Cup and the quarter-final between the Netherlands and Brazil from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and on today’s podcast we look at the 1986 World Cup quarter-final match between France and Brazil. We start off by looking back at some of the context to the match – how did the sides reach the last eight – and then we look at some of the words and phrases used to describe the game itself including in the ‘penalty shoot out‘, before finishing up with a look back at how the rest of the tournament finished.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Portuguese from Brazil)


DF: Now, the 1986 World Cup was the second time that Mexico had hosted the tournament (the first was in 1970) after first-choice hosts Colombia had dropped out due to economic reasons. 24 sides took part in the competition and this number was reduced to 16 after the group stages which did not really see too many shocks. The hosts Mexico, World Cup debutants Denmark (known as ‘Danish Dynamite’) and favourites Brazil all qualified in impressive style, while France, the Soviet Union and Argentina also qualified with ease. In the last 16 matches Spain, England and Brazil all had comprehensive victories – they won easily – and suddenly it looked as if lots of teams were coming into form at the right time – even Germany who scraped through to the last eight against Morocco.

Where was I watching this World Cup? Well, I had just finished my exams at university and was at home in Ireland and was able to watch nearly all of the games live – great days indeed! I remember that this was the first time that I saw the ‘Mexican Wave’ – the movement of fans around the stadium that, when done well, looked as if a wave was flowing around the stadium. Now, for this particular match – France versus Brazil – I remember watching it in a local bar and what a game it was!

Now, both sides had left the 1982 World Cup with regrets. The French had been desperately unlucky to lose on penalties (the first ever such way to decide a World Cup game) against West Germany after they had thrilled the world with their attacking play, while 1982 and Brazil is synonymous with beautiful football – jogo bonito – so everyone was really looking forward to this one. Players such as Platini, Giresse and Tigana for France and Alemao, Muller, Careca and Zico (who started this game on the bench due to injury) for Brazil meant that the winners of this tie would be one of the favourites to lift the trophy.

BBC Commentator: supporters…And off we go. Brazil in the famous gold shirts playing from the right against France, the European champions, who have already put out the holders… (from’s #WorldCupAtHome)

1986 World Cup Quarter-final: France vs Brazil


DF: The game took place in the Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara in front of 65,000 fans in blazing heat – conditions which made Brazil slight favourites, particularly as they had won their previous nine matches in this stadium – a remarkable record. The French started well but Brazil scored first through Careca who smashed his fifth goal of the tournament into the net after wonderful combination play between Junior and Muller. Though Muller also hit the post soon afterwards France responded well and their captain Michel Platini, on his birthday, scored his second goal of the tournament five minutes before half time by stroking home the ball at the far post.

The second half was a breathless affair and not just because the game was played at altitude and in intense heat with both teams having clear-cut chances to grab the winner. Again Brazil hit the woodwork; this time Careca hitting the bar and then three minutes after coming on as a substitute to a huge ovation, Brazilian star Zico missed a penalty. The game continued to be an end to end affair as both teams searched for a winner but it finished 1-1 and we had extra time.

Extra time proved just as exciting as the previous 90 minutes with both teams continuing to create chance after chance. With five minutes to go, and after a wonderful through ball from Platini, French substitute Bruno Bellone was taken down by the Brazilian goalkeeper Carlos as he tried to go round the keeper but the Romanian referee waved play on much to the disbelief of the French players. Nowadays the keeper would have been sent off for this kind of ‘professional foul‘ but he escaped punishment and then incredibly as the French players remonstrated with the referee, the Brazilians counter attacked and from a right-wing cross Socrates missed an open goal from inside the six-yard box.

BBC Commentator: Oh, he’s onside…it’s Bellone… can he do it for France? Bruno Bellone… oh goodness me, Carlos has fouled him… and the refereee is saying play on. That’s extraordinary. And Brazil are on the attack with Silas and Careca… and still Careca and he’s gone past Battiston…  And Sócrates has missed an open goal! I can’t believe this…


And so on to only the second ever penalty shoot out in World Cup history and the French side must have been nervous after their defeat in Seville four years previously to West Germany. So new was this form of deciding a match that the TV commentator kept reminding the public of the rules. Here’s how the shoot-out went – listen out for the different ways to describe shots, goals, misses and saves.

Brazil went first with Sócrates and he used a short run up – one or two steps – and he had his shot saved by the keeper Joël Bats. The first French penalty was taken by Stopyra who blasted it into the roof of the net. Brazil’s Alemao slotted home his shot, while the French defender Amoros scored by placing his kick to the keeper’s left. Next up was Zico who was under pressure after missing in regular time but he converted his spot kick by drilling the ball home down the middle and then Bruno Bellone scored for France but only after his shot hit the post and rebounded in off the keeper Carlos – some form of revenge after the Brazilian keeper’s professional foul earlier. Branco took his side’s fourth kick and he scored after smashing the ball down the middle which left it 3-3 with French captain Michel Platini to come. He skied his penalty – he hit the ball high over the bar – and suddenly with one penalty left for each side it was level again. Unfortunately for Brazil they missed their next penalty when their defender Julio Cesar hit the post, while Luis Fernández stroked home his for France to win 4-3 on penalties and move on to the semi-finals. What drama! What a game!

Stinger: You are listening to (in French)

What happened next?

France faced West Germany in the semi-final again and were looking to avenge their penalty shoot-out loss from four years previously but they were defeated 2-0 by a German side that seemed to get stronger as the tournament progressed. In the final the Germans would be up against a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina – he had been inspirational throughout the tournament scoring a brace against England: the first was the controversial hand of God goal which was followed by one of the best ever goals scored in a finals. He followed that up with another double, including another wonder goal, against Belgium in the semi-final and despite being man-marked out of the game by Lothar Matthäus in the final he still provided a wonderful assist for the winning goal in a 3-2 win over the Germans. This was Argentina’s second World Cup title and although they have played in two more finals since then, they have lost to Germany on both occasions, so they have yet to add to that total. Player of the tournament? Without doubt Diego Maradona. Goal of the World Cup? Again Maradona’s solo run against England in the 2-1 quarter-final win. Best match? Ah! The France v Brazil game of course!

Stinger: You are listening to (in German)


That’s it for this World Cup memory – 1986 really was a fantastic tournament and that France-Brazil game was a real cracker – and if you get a chance then go along to and watch that game, and others that are appearing each week with us. We’ll be back with another review of a World Cup classic match later this week and of course we have lots of football language resources on our site at Learning English through Football.

Before we go, don’t forget that you can contact us here at languagecaster via our various social media platforms: that’s Facebook’s Learning English Through Football, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Spread the word, ask a question on our forums, make a suggestion or simply drop us an email at Take care everyone – bye bye.

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    PodcastEpisode 17