Football Language Podcast: A (NAME) Shaped Hole: 2021 Champions League

In this football language podcast we look at a phrase linked to the 2021 Champions League Final game. The phrase is a player’s name-shaped hole. You can read a transcript for this podcast below, and there are thousands more phrases in our glossary of footballing phrases. Visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions then you can contact us at

Football Language Podcast: A (NAME) shaped hole: 2021 Champions League

DB: You’re listening to’s football language podcast. Hello everyone, this is Damon from the Learning English Through Football team. How are things? We hope you are all well and enjoying the football. Of course, last weekend saw the 2021 Champions League and soon to come will be the delayed European Championship! Great stuff.

Last week, Damian posted on the Europa League final, subscribe to our podcasts or come along to to check that post out. And this week, I’ll be talking about a football phrase connected with the Champions League final – a – insert player’s name – shaped hole.

Stinger: You are listening to (in German).

Embed from Getty Images

Congratulations Chelsea

First of all, congratulations to Chelsea on their second European Championship League title. The London team beat the side from Manchester 1-0 in an exciting game. Commiserations of course to Manchester City, who lost their first ever Champions League final.

The tie was a tight affair, meaning the teams were evenly matched, there was no dominant side. And the game was decided towards the end of the first half, as Chelsea countered quickly with a long pass down the centre of the pitch. Kai Havertz latched on to, collected, the pass, rounded the keeper, and slotted home.

While Manchester City dominated possession, they couldn’t break down a stubborn Chelsea defence and the Blues always looked dangerous on the counter attack.

A Fernandinho-shaped hole

Now, the phrase I want to talk about is connected to what most pundits and reports on the match commented on. They couldn’t understand why Guardiola had not chosen a defensive midfielder – either Fernandinho or Rodri.

Manchester City set up with no recognised defensive midfielder. This meant their back line was not protected. The opening goal, a ball played right through the middle of the pitch, would usually be blocked or intercepted by a defensive midfielder.

But there was no midfielder there. There was a gap, a space, or a hole in that part of the pitch. Everyone expected a player like Fernandinho to be there, so we can say there was a Fernandinho-shaped hole in the midfield. Because he wasn’t there, there was a space where Chelsea could pass the ball.


We could also say a Fernandinho-shaped space, or gap. And we can also replace shaped with sized: a Fernandinho-sized space, for example.

The fact they didn’t have a defensive midfielder left Manchester City light at the back. Light at the back means they had a weakness in defence. Of course, we can say a team is light in attack, or light up top, and so on.


Let’s look at a real example of –a player-shaped hole, space, or gap. This one is from 2014 and talks about Steven Gerrard playing for England.

Example: “It must be said Gerrard had a horrible match here. For a start he was in exactly the wrong place at exactly the wrong time for Uruguay’s opening goal, allowing Edinson Cavani to gallop past into the Gerrard-shaped hole in front of the central defence.” (The Guaradian, 2014)

In this example, Gerrard is playing, but he in the wrong position; he has left a space where he should have been. There is a Gerrard-shaped hole.

Stinger: You are listening to (in French).

Good Bye

So, the Champions League was decided by one goal, one pass going through a defensive midfielder-shaped space in Manchester City’s team. I hope you enjoyed this short podcast and remember to tell your friends about us and if you want to support us and keep our website and podcasts free, think about donating a little via We do appreciate your support!

Take care, ta-ra!

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

Free football language podcast for learners of English brought to you by Damian and Damon. Interviews, match reviews, predictions all with full language support for football fans around the world who wish to improve their English language skills.

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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Football GlossaryEpisode 971