In this football language post we explain the football phrase ‘title decider’, which is often heard at the business end of the season. 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:
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Football Language: Title decider

This week in the Bundesliga the top two (Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich) faced each other in what many pundits were calling a title decider. As Munich were four points clear with seven games remaining a win for them would give them not only a seven point cushion over Dortmund but psychologically it would also weaken their rivals. Of course, Munich could lose a couple of games – they still have to play teams from the top six – but it is unlikely from a team that has won 12 of its last 13 matches. They won 1-0 in yesterday’s game which means that although they have not won the title – the title has not yet been officially decided – most people now feel that Bayern will win their eighth league title in a row – they are closing in on the title; they have almost won the title race.

A title decider usually involves the two teams that can still win the league (the title), though not always. Sometimes one of the teams involved in the title race (the battle to win the league) has to play a tough opponent – maybe a local rival – and this can also be a title decider as the result of the game can affect the title race. In a perfect sense, a title decider should really be a match between the top two sides towards the end of the season in which the winner becomes champion – almost like a play-off. This kind of game does happen sometimes and perhaps the most famous in England occurred in 1989 on May 26th (today!) when Arsenal needed to win at Anfield by two clear goals to win the title while Liverpool only needed to better this result. Arsenal scored their second goal in the 91st minute to win 2-0 and to claim the title – this was one of the most dramatic title deciders in English football history.

  • Example: ‘…Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick insists clash with Borussia Dortmund is not a Bundesliga title decider‘  (Independent, May 24 2020).
  • Example: ‘Old Firm set for another last-day title decider‘ (BBC, 13 May 2011)

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Football GlossaryEpisode 916