Football Language Podcast: 2022 World Cup Qualifier England vs Poland

In today’s football language podcast we look at some of the words and phrases that emerged from the 2022 World Cup qualifier between England Poland as described in The Guardian (March 31, 2021), in particular we explain the phrases, ‘defensive lapse’; ‘swing the tie’; talisman’ and ‘roof of the net’. You can find more football words and expressions in our glossary of footballing phrases here, and you can visit our site to access all the previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then contact us at

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Football Language Podcast: 2022 World Cup Qualifier England vs Poland

DF: Hello everyone, this is Damian from the Learning English Through Football team. I hope we are all doing well and that we are safe wherever we are in the world. Now on this short football language podcast we take a look at some of the language from the World Cup qualifier between England and Poland at Wembley and in particular  the words, ‘defensive lapse’; ‘swing the tie’; talisman’ and ‘roof of the net’

Stinger: You are listening to (in Polish).

DF: Yes, you are listening to and that message was in Polish. Don’t forget that there’s a transcript to this podcast which you can access by coming along to our site. And you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or you can drop us a line at: Right, let’s take a look at some of the words and phrases from The Guardian newspaper’s report (March 31, 2021) on the England versus Poland World Cup qualifying tie.

Defensive lapse

A lapse is an error – one that happens due to a lack of concentration – and so a defensive lapse is a mistake made by a defender or a group of defenders. Here’s the sentence from the Guardian:

It was a horror moment and the central defender could not hide, a lapse that presented Poland with an equaliser to shock England…

The writer describes the lapse as a ‘horror moment’ which suggests that the mistake was a really bad one before going on to use the expression ‘present Poland with an equaliser’ which of course means that the defender gifted the goal to the opposition.

Swing the tie back in favour

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Momentum and rhythm are important parts of the game; sometimes it is clear that one side is dominating the match as they have more ball possession and are creating more dangerous chances. But we also know that anything can happen in a game (it’s a funny old game after all) and a single moment can change this momentum. The defensive lapse and the equaliser that resulted gave the English team some doubts – their confidence was hit – while the opposite happened for the Polish side who grew in confidence and started to attack more. The tie swung in Poland’s favour for these moments after they levelled but then Maguire’s goal changed the momentum back to England – his goal swung the tie (or match) back in England’s favour.


A talisman is a player that is fundamental to the team – a really important player. The meaning of a talisman is something that people think bring good luck thanks to magical powers and in football a team looks to their talisman when they are in trouble as they can help in difficult situations. The Polish side played without their main striker and talisman, Robert Lewandowski, and this showed in their first-half performance which was toothless – they failed to trouble the English keeper.

Into the roof of the net

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The roof of the net is the top of the inside part of the goal – under the crossbar. Hitting this part of the net makes it very difficult for the keeper to save and although there is some risk with this kind of shot because the ball is rising and it may go over the crossbar, there is a real sense of satisfaction when the ball goes into the roof of the net and there’s been a goal. Here’s how the Guardian described Maguire’s goal:

‘…getting his body shape right, to crash a side-on shot into the roof of the net‘.

Fantastic stuff!

Stinger: You’re listening to (in Irish).

Good Bye

DF: OK, that’s it for this short podcast and we hope you have enjoyed our look at some of the language from the Guardian newspaper about the World Cup qualifier between England and Poland. Let us know if you hear any of the words and phrases from the show or maybe if you know how to say them in another language – drop us a line at: And we’ll have more football phrases to talk about in our next podcast. Enjoy all the football this week and we’ll see you again soon. Bye bye.

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