Learn English Through Football Podcast: World Cup 2022 – European Qualifiers

In this football language post we look back at some of the language that was used to describe some of the drama in the European qualification matches for the 2022 World Cup. We will focus on some of the newspaper headlines from these matches and look at phrases such as ‘leapfrog‘; ‘to confirm‘; ‘to secure‘ and ‘demolition‘. There is a transcript with this listening activity along with some vocabulary practice and you can also check out our football glossary and football cliches pages for hundreds more explanations of the language of soccer. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at: admin@languagecaster.com.

Learning English Through Football Podcast: World Cup 2022 – European Qualifiers

DF: Hello everyone, this is Damian from the Learning English Through Football team. I hope we are all doing well and enjoying the football. Did you watch any of the recent World Cup qualifiers? How did your side do? Well, my country Ireland were already eliminated from the tournament – they could not qualify for the finals next year – but it was still nice to see them pick up four points and two clean sheets in matches against Luxembourg and Portugal – more on them later!

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (Irish fan).

OK, so the latest set of World Cup qualifying games is over and what an action-packed set of fixtures it has proved to be, particularly in the European section where the final group matches have now all been completed. The ten group winners have been decided but to find out the remaining three sides who will play in the 2022 finals, we will have to wait until next March when a series of play-offs take place. Now, the play-off route will be a tricky one – teams will have to win a semi-final and a final in one-off games which meant that finishing second in their qualifying groups would not be ideal.

So in this football language podcast we take a look at how newspaper headlines have described some of these final group matches that decided which teams would qualify for Qatar 2022, which ones would go into the play-offs and which ones would be eliminated.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (French fan).

Now, don’t forget there is of course a transcript to go with this podcast – it’s great for teaching and learning English – and if you have any questions or comments about any of the football language in this report then you can contact us  at: admin@languagecaster.com or ask a question on our football language forum.

Portugal 1-2 Serbia

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Portugal 1-2 Serbia: Drama in Lisbon as late Aleksandar Mitrovic header sees Serbs leapfrog opponents to World Cup spot
OK, let’s start with this Portugal-Serbia match which took place in Lisbon and which saw the Serbian side score a dramatic late winner – the 90th minute – to qualify for the finals and push Portugal into the play-offs. This is how the ESPN website reported on the late winner from Serbia which saw them move into first place in their group by leapfrogging the Portuguese side – they jumped over them into first place into top spot in the group. Now in this example, we can see the Serbs leapfrog opponents to World Cup spot; so they leapfrogged Portugal to claim, or secure, a World Cup spot. Now, we have recently covered late Ronaldo goals in a couple of our podcasts – one on his Champions League goals and one on the World Cup qualifier against Ireland but this time he was on the receiving end of a late winning goal. Such drama!

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (Spanish fan).

Spain 1-0 Sweden

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Spain 1-0 Sweden: Alvaro Morata strikes late to confirm World Cup place as Swedes face playoffs
So, in another winner-takes-all match up, Spain hosted Sweden in Seville and needed a draw to make it through directly to the finals after the Swedes had slipped up four days before away in Georgia – the return of Zlatan Ibra did not seem to work for them at all. Juventus striker Álvaro Morata (the Spanish striker) scored a late winning goal – that’s the strike – and it was a beautiful dink over the keeper to send the Spanish side through to the finals. In the headline, we can see the verb ‘confirm‘ and this is often used when a goal settles a match. If something is confirmed it means that it is certain and so we can say that the goal from Morata made sure that Spain would qualify and not Sweden who have to face a play-off, or play in the play-offs.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (Italian fan).

Northern Ireland 0-0 Italy

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Italy go into World Cup play-offs after Northern Ireland draw as Swiss qualify
So in another dramatic night of football, the Italian side joined Portugal in the play-offs after failing to defeat Northern Ireland in Belfast. The goalless draw meant that Switzerland finished top of the group and secured qualification to the 2022 finals and left the current European champions having to play off for a spot (or place) in the finals. For such a dramatic result the headline from the Guardian newspaper is quite tame (or dull) and simply reports that Italy will go into the play-offs – now we often use this verb to describe if a team qualifies for something (so goes into the second round) or if they go into a draw or play-off. Imagine it, if the last two European champions have to face each other in a play-off final in March! Italy v Portugal. Wow!

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

Netherlands 2-0 Norway

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Bergwijn and Depay secure finals spot for Netherlands
This headline is also from the Guardian newspaper and in it they explain that the Dutch side beat Norway 2-0 to qualify for the finals – they’ve secured a spot (or place) or sometimes we can hear ‘secure a berth‘ which means the same thing. So, to secure something means to make sure of something (so a little like confirm in the Spanish headline), so in this headline we can see that the Dutch won and therefore qualified – there was some uncertainty beforehand so winning secured their place. And of course their two goals were scored by Bergwijn and Depay

San Marino 0-10 England

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England confirm World Cup 2022 spot with 10-goal demolition of San Marino
England did not really have too much to worry about before their game against the weakest team in the European qualifying section, the minnows San Marino but the headline from The Guardian newspaper uses the word ‘demolition‘ (the verb form is to demolish) which describes a huge victory for one side over another one. So, to demolish a building, for example, would be to knock down the building – completely destroy it. So this idea of a demolition in football means that the opponent has been destroyed – completely thrashed. Like the Spanish headline, the verb ‘confirm’ is used here. So England needed a point beforehand; they got the win so they are definitely going to the World Cup, they confirmed their spot at the 2022 World Cup.

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

DF: Yes, that message is in German – another side who demolished a World Cup qualifying opponent this week (Liechtenstein 9-0) – but if you’d like to send a message in any language for our podcast then contact us here at languagecaster.com – we’d love to hear from you.

OK, that’s it for this short podcast in which we’ve looked at some language connected to World Cup qualifying, particularly from the European section,  including, leapfrog‘; ‘to confirm‘; ‘to secure‘ and ‘demolition‘. Let us know if you know any other words to describe World Cup qualification – in any language – by adding a comment below our post or by dropping us a line at: admin@languagecaster.com.

Don’t forget that you can also come along to our forum where you can ask or answer any questions you have on football language. Now, recently we have looked at the phrases, ‘scorcher‘ and ‘blockbuster‘ – so come along and participate in our football language community on the forums.

And don’t forget there is a transcript for this report and of course we have a huge glossary of football language here at languagecaster.com – hundreds and hundreds of entries, including many of the words and phrases from today’s show. OK, myself and Damon, who is of course watching all of his football in Tokyo, will be back soon with some more football language. Enjoy all the football this week as domestic football returns; so club football comes back and we’ll see you again soon. Bye bye.

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here. If you have any suggestions, contact us at admin@languagecaster.com

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.

Welcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Soccer fans can enhance these skills with lots of free language resources: a weekly podcast, football phrases, explanations of football vocabulary, football cliches, worksheets, quizzes and much more at languagecaster.com.

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PodcastEpisode 189