This week, introduces the football phrase ‘on paper‘. You can understand more about this phrase by reading the transcript below. You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.
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This week’s weekly English for football phrase is ‘on paper’, which refers to the team sheet on which the names of the players who will start the game (the starting XI) are written down. Fans like to compare the two teams before a game; they like to see which team has the better players and to do this we look at these players in an idealised form, that is, if those players were to play to their full potential. Therefore, when we use the phrase on paper we are referring to an idealised world when one team should beat another team. Of course, the so-called stronger team does not always win as football is an unpredictable sport with many different variables involved including the weather, the pitch, the mentality of the players, injuries, the performance of the referee among others. These variables mean that the best team on paper does not always win. On paper.

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