Learn English Through Football Language Podcast: November International Break & Rattle the Crossbar

In this football language podcast we look at the phrase ‘rattle the crossbar‘ or ‘rattle the woodwork‘ which we use to describe a shot hitting the frame of the goal. 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: admin@languagecaster.com.

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Learn English Through Football Language Podcast: November International Break & Rattle the Crossbar

DF: Hello again everyone and welcome to Languagecaster.com – the football-language podcast for learners and teachers of English. I’m Damian and I’m based here in London and…where the weather is a little chilly actually. And of course the other member of the Languagecaster team is Damon who is based in Tokyo in Japan. 

Now, this week was an international break and so we had European Championship qualifiers for next year’s finals in Germany, while the 2026 World Cup qualifiers were also being played in Africa, South America and Asia. So, on this week’s podcast, we will be looking at some of the language from the good, the bad and the ugly from some of those international matches, while we will also be looking at some language used when a ball hits the crossbar, including rattle; hit; shave; cannon and smack against the bar.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (from a Brazilian fan).

Yes, that was from a Brazilian fan and we will be featuring Brazil in the bad section of our good, bad and ugly part of the show as we look back at some of the language that emerged from the November international break. Before we take a look at the stories here are some of the words and phrases that you will hear:

  1. Respective histories: This means both countries’ histories. So, when we use ‘respective’ it refers to two separate things that share something. 
  2. To top the group: This means to lead or to win the group (see also the phrase to top the table)
  3. Standings: This refers to the position that a team finds itself in the league or division
  4. An ill-tempered match: And this is a bad-tempered game where both sides behaved badly 
  5. Seleção: This is the nickname of the Brazilian national team
  6. showpiece: This the main event; the game everyone was waiting for
  7. disciplinary proceedings: An investigation set up to find out why trouble has occurred. 

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (from Vietnamese fans)

The Good

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OK, let’s take a look at some of the good stories from the recent November international break. Well, in Europe it was good for both Albania and Slovenia who qualified for only the second time in their respective histories. Albania topped Group E, while Slovenia finished level on points with Denmark in Group H to qualify for the first time since 2000. It was also good for Uruguay in their CONMEBOL South American World Cup qualifiers after they won twice to move into second place in the table – with one of those wins coming away in Argentina. The Marcelo Bielsa managerial effect is clearly working for the Uruguayan side. And we should also mention the Comoros national team after they recorded two victories in the African qualifiers (that’s CAF), including a home win against one of the strongest teams in the region, Ghana. I wonder if we’ll see Comoros in their first ever World Cup in 2026?

The Bad

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Well, it was a bad week of qualifying for Brazil who are now in sixth place in the South American standings which is the final qualification spot, after they were defeated twice over this international break. First, they lost away in Colombia with two late goals from Luis Díaz and then they were beaten by rivals Argentina in an ill-tempered match at home in Rio four days later. This was the first time that Brazil had been defeated in a home qualifier in their history, while it was also their third defeat in a row. Bad times for the Seleção.

The Ugly

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Well, for ugly we are going to stay with that game in Rio between Brazil and Argentina as some crowd trouble started during the national anthems – before the game had even started. The teams had to leave the pitch for ten minutes meaning there was a delayed start to the big showpiece game. FIFA have since opened disciplinary proceedings against both Argentina and Brazil which may mean future punishments. Pretty ugly scenes indeed.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Turkish) 

Rattle the crossbar

OK, let’s take a look at a phrase that I heard a couple of times over the international breakto rattle the crossbar or rattle the woodwork. This is used to describe a really hard shot hitting the crossbar (or the goal frame) in a fairly direct manner and this then makes the bar move or shake from the impact (because of the vibrations). If the verb ‘rattle‘ is used to describe a shot that hits the bar then it suggests that the shot was hit with power – we might also hear onomatopoeic terms such as ‘smack against the crossbar‘ or ‘cannon against the crossbar‘ which also suggests that the shot was hit with power and that we can hear the sound of the ball hitting the bar. These are different from the phrases ‘shave  or graze the bar‘ which are shots that might be hit with power but they suggest that the ball did not fully hit the bar but instead clipped the top or the side of the bar or the frame of the goal. Here are a couple of examples:  

Example: Both Bologna and Empoli rattled the frame of the goal along with other clear-cut chances, but nobody was able to find a winner at the Stadio Dall’Ara (Football Italia Feb 2022)

Example: Kingsley Coman was at the forefront of Bayern’s second-goal chase, as he first had a flicked header from a corner rattle the crossbar… (TNT 24 November 2023

Amrabat RATTLES the bar 💢 pic.twitter.com/DSXqzwNmUq

— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 21, 2023

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Japanese) 


Now, don’t forget that you can find out more about the phrase, ‘rattle the crossbar‘ and other words linked to the goal frame and woodwork and hundreds more football-language phrases by coming along to our football-language glossary here at Languagecaster.com.


Football Language Glossary

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Swahili).


DF: OK, if you have any questions or comments then drop us an email at admin@languagecaster.com and you can also look out for us on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram, while we are now posting some material on our new YouTube page. Come along and say hello. We also have a football-language forum where you can ask and answer any questions you have on the language of football. And recently we’ve had questions around the phrases, ‘cat and mouse‘ and ‘to work the keeper‘ or ‘to work the defence’. Take a look at these posts, do some of the quizzes that are there, add a comment or a question or simply say hi!


Don’t forget to subscribe to our football-language podcasts: recently here at Languagecaster we have posted some on the recent Copa Libertadores final in which Fluminense won their first ever continental title. We also have posted some new phrases on our site including, The Toffees and the phrases ‘to be at it‘ and ‘to rescue a point‘. Just come along to Languagecaster to find these and more language-learning resources.  

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in Dutch).


DF: Yes, you are listening to Languagecaster and that message was from a Dutch football fan. And well done to the Netherlands for qualifying for the Euros next summer in Germany. Don’t forget there’s a transcript for this short podcast with lots of vocabulary support. If you look at the posts on our site you can see that we explain lots of the meanings of these words in the transcript, so come along and have a look!

OK, that’s it for this podcast in which we looked back at some of the good, the bad and the ugly from the recent international break. Remember the phrases, ‘respective‘; ‘to top the group’; ‘standings’ and ‘an ill-tempered match‘. Of course, we we also explained the phrases, ‘rattle the crossbar‘; ‘rattle the woodwork‘ and also ‘to shave or to clip the bar‘.  Let us know if you hear these phrases – in any language – over the next week. 

Enjoy all the football and we’ll be back soon with some more football language. Bye!

  • Related Vocabulary

    • Woodwork
    • Hit the woodwork
    • Glance the top of the bar
    • The bar
    • Frame of the goal
    • Net
    • By line
    • Pitch markings
    • Penalty area
    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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Football GlossaryEpisode 1078