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The Penalty Shootout

The Penalty Shootout

Welcome to This Week from Premier Skills English, a weekly review of football action for learners of English from across the globe. In This Week, Jack talks about stories from this week in the Premier League and there are lots of football English words and phrases for you to learn.

Transcript

If the listening was difficult, you can listen and read the transcript at the same time.
Read the transcript and listen at the same time.

Hello, my name’s Jack and welcome to This Week on Premier Skills English. In This Week, we’ve got lots of interesting words and phrases to help you talk about football in English.

If you are listening to this podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, you can also visit the Premier Skills English website at premierskillsenglish.britishcouncil.org where you’ll be able to download the podcast.

On the Premier Skills English website, you can read the transcript and join the Premier Skills English community by completing a language task in the comments section. This will really help you remember the new words and phrases from the stories from the Premier League.

Today, I am going to talk about a part of football that people from England used to hate … well, maybe not hate, but we used to fear it, even dread it ... Today, I am going to talk about the penalty shootout.

The words and phrases I am going to talk about today are:

  • The pressure on someone
  • Nerve wracking
  • Stalemate
  • Strain
  • To get it in the neck
  • Ruthless
  • To have the weight of the world on your shoulders
  • A psychological blow

Before I get to this week’s story, I want to look back at the last football phrase and the last fiendish football phrase. If you didn’t hear them last time, here’s one more chance to see if you can work them out.

The football phrase was the verb to ****. In the story I read, it said that the European Champions have strengthened their side. They have ****** Kylian Mbappé on a free transfer.

The fiendish football phrase was much harder. It’s a phrase we use to describe a young player who is impressing everyone and who is quickly becoming more and more popular. Tottenham have already secured such a player, they have brought in Swedish ****** **** Lucas Bergvall.

Congratulations to Alex from Ukraine, Ken from Japan, AndreTorre 102 from Brazil, Vietnguyenngo from Vietnam, Hasan from Turkey, Lukáš from Czechia, Kwesimanifest from Ghana, and Denis2000 from Brazil.

You all managed to work out that the football phrase was the verb to sign and the fiendish football phrase was the phrase a rising star.

There will be another football phrase and another fiendish football phrase at the end of the podcast.

Now it’s time for today’s story.

The Penaty Shootout

In a cup competition, like the Euros or the World Cup, there isn’t enough time for a replay for matches that finish in a draw. You have to have a winner, so clubs take turns taking five penalties and then if the scores are still level, they take turns until someone misses or is blocked.

It works ... At the end, there is a winner, but the pressure on the players is so great. And for the fans, it’s nerve-wracking. I find penalty shootouts hard to watch ... But at the same time, impossible to look away from.

The main reason that as an England fan, I find penalty shootouts so ... stressful is England does not have a great record. In fact, until the other day, I couldn’t even remember winning a penalty shootout.

I looked up the stats and before the Switzerland match, England had only won three out of their last ten shootouts. I don’t remember the wins. I can only remember England losing really important matches in penalty shootouts. In 1990, England lost to Germany in the semi finals of the World Cup, and then again against Germany in the semi finals of the Euros in 1996 and then, in 2020, at the last Euros, England made it all the way to the final and then lost in a shootout to Italy. Bukayo Saka, who was only 19 at the time, had his penalty saved. He left the pitch with tears running down his cheeks.

In the past, matches were settled by replays which is great if you have time. However, when it wasn’t possible to schedule a replay, stalemates were settled by drawing lots. It was a bit like flipping a coin which is not very satisfying. In a penalty shootout, there is a lot luck involved, but there is definitely a lot of skill involved as well and shootouts are very exciting for fans.

The International Football Association Board started using penalties as a way of settling stalemates in 1970, but penalty shootouts weren’t used in a world cup until 1982. France and Germany finished level in their match and Alain Giresse volunteered or was selected to become the first ever penalty taker in a World Cup penalty shootout. There’s an article on FIFA.com in which he is quoted as saying ‘Football is normally a team game – that finishes and the shoot-out is you and them, face to face.’

When it’s your turn, you have to walk from your half to the penalty spot, carrying the hopes of your nation on your shoulders as you walk step by step towards the goal. Under normal circumstances, a penalty is a brilliant opportunity. The strain is normally all on the keeper. However, for a keeper, the pressure is not as great as it is on a striker. Saving a penalty is too much to ask. All the keeper has to do is try their best; they just have to dive one way or the other. I’m sure that goal keepers feel bad if they fail to stop the penalty that puts their side out of a competition. But in the UK press, strikers who miss or who are blocked get it in the neck. The UK tabloids were really ruthless in their criticism of Bukayo Saka after his shot was blocked.

So the pressure is really all on the penalty taker who has to walk to the spot, alone, with the weight of the world on their shoulders and when they get to the spot, they have a conundrum: how should they take the penalty? Should they hit the ball really hard, or should they aim at the far corners to push the ball out of reach of the diving keeper? Both these techniques make the penalty harder to save, but both these techniques also increase the likelihood of a mistake and there’s nothing the fans want to see less than a missed penalty.

Another alternative is to try a Panenka. This approach involves chipping the ball right into the centre of the goal, relying on the goalkeeper to dive out of the way. It’s called a Panenka in England after the Czech player Antonin Panenka who scored a decisive penalty in the final against West Germany Keeper Sepp Maier in the 1976 UEFA Euro final. The thing about the Panenka is it makes the goal keeper look a bit silly because they are seen to dive out of the ay of the ball and this can have a psychological impact in a penalty shootout. In eth Euro 2012 competition, England were defeated by Italy in a penalty shootout. In that shootout, Andrea Pirlo took a risk and scored with a Panenka because he thought it would deliver a psychological blow to England. Italy on 4-2 on penalties.

Last week, the England match against Switzerland, the quarter-final Euro match ended regular time 1-1. The teams played an added 30 minutes, but neither team was able to score again so the match was decided by a penalty shootout.

Cole Palmer was the first to step up for England. At Chelsea, he has the nickname Cold Palmer because he’s so cool under pressure. He scored with a confident strike into the bottom left. Next up was Manuel Akanji for Switzerland. Jordan Pickford looked confident on the goal line. A photographer with a long lens caught a list of players on Pickford’s water bottle. Next to Akanji’s it said dive left. Pickford’s research paid off and when Akanji drilled the ball towards the bottom right corner, Pickford dived the right way and saved the penalty. Next up was Jude Bellingham for England who scored with a coolly place ball into the bottom right. Then Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar scored for Switzerland. And then it was Bukayo Saka’s turn.

I can’t imagine the pressure he must have felt, stepping up to the spot, knowing that if he failed to score, his failure would disappoint millions of England supporters. So when he stepped up this time, the pressure must have been enormous, I’m sure it would have overwhelmed most people. I doubt I could even walk straight with that sort of pressure. But Saka is not an ordinary person. He’d already saved England once that evening when he equalised with a brilliant solo effort. And he is a regular penalty taker for Arsenal so that must have helped with his confidence. He showed enormous composure and played the ball low and to the right.

Then Xherdan Shaqiri struck well for Switzerland. Pickford dived the right way, but he ball sailed over him. Then Ivan Toney walked to the spot and scored after staring the goalkeeper down. Next up was Burnley forward Zeki Amdouni for Switzerland. He knew that he had to score. If he failed to score, Switzerland was out. He scored with a confident strike after his run up sent Pickford the wrong way.

Finally, it all came down to Trent Alexander Arnold. When he walked to the spot, he knew that if he scored, England would be through. Can you imagine the toe curling neck prickling pressure he must have been enduring as he stood for those few seconds, staring down the Swiss keeper?

The fans in the stadium and watching on screens were on tenterhooks. Whatever the Liverpool man was feeling, it didn’t show. He blasted the ball into the net and the crowd erupted into cheers of wild excitement and joy. The penalty takers did it and the following day the papers were full of stories heralding their heroics.

What do you think? Do you enjoy penalty shootouts? How well can you cope with the stress? Are they too nerve-wracking for you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section on the page for this podcast on Premier Skills English.

Language Focus

The words from the story that I want to talk about are:

  • The pressure on someone
  • Nerve wracking
  • Stalemate
  • Strain
  • To get it in the neck
  • Ruthless
  • To have the weight of the world on your shoulders
  • A psychological blow

The pressure on someone
When we talk about pressure on a person, we are talking abut the emotional or mental stress that a person feels when there are very high expectations. So if you have lots to do at work or if your job has a lot of responsibility, then you could say that there is a lot of pressure on you because of your job. Normally, people feel pressure before an exam or generally at school, if their parents have very high expectations, or at work, if they are responsible for a lot of people and they are worried about being able to help everyone. We use the verb put with pressure to say that something makes someone feel pressure. We say it’s putting a lot of pressure on her. We also say that someone is under pressure, for example, Gareth Southgate is under a lot of pressure from the media and fans. When Bukayo Saka stepped up to take his penalty kick, he must have felt really stressed because of the pressure he was under to score.

Nerve-wracking
The adjective nerve-wracking describes events that make you feel very stressed and nervous. In biology, your nerves are the special cells that transmit information around your body. However, in this situation, your nerves describes your level of stress or worry. So, if you are in a tense situation, you might say your nerves are on edge or your nerves are jangling. You might need to take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves or soothe your nerves.

The verb to wrack, comes from a medieval torture device that was used to stretch people so a situation is nerve-wracking if it tortures or badly hurts your nerves. We don’t use the verb to wrack in many other phrases. You might hear that someone was wracked with guilt after they had done something wrong, meaning, they were tortured by guilt because of what they did and if you have to think really hard to remember something, you can say that you wracked your brain, but these phrases are not very common, at least, not as common as the adjective nerve-wracking.

Stalemate
The noun stalemate describes a situation where two people or teams that are competing with each other are stuck and neither team can advance. The word comes from the game of chess. In chess, if a player cannot move, but they are not in check, then the game is over and neither player has won. Outside of chess, we use the word to describe situations where people or teams or organizations are unable to make progress in negotiations or other deals.

Strain
The noun strain is very similar to pressure. It describes a state of stress or tension. It can also be used to talk about an injury to muscles and joints, but in the story, I used it as a synonym for pressure. I think, and this is just my sense of the word, that situations that continue for a very long time put a strain on people. So if you have a problem at work that you can deal with, but not solve, over time, the strain that it puts you under will have an impact on your nerves and well-being. However, in most cases, strain and pressure are very similar.

To get it in the neck
To get it in the neck is an informal expression that means to be severely criticised or told off for something. So if you don’t do your homework and your teacher is really strict, you might get it in the neck at school. I tried looking up the origin of this phrase and all I could find was a connection between to get it, meaning to be hurt or punished and the neck being a sensitive or vulnerable part of the body. The phrase is more common in British English.

Ruthless
The word ruthless is used to describe someone who will do anything they can to achieve their goal, without thinking about the impact or how much it might hurt others. If someone is ruthless, they have no empathy, no compassion or pity for others. It’s commonly used to talk about criminals who rob and cheat people for their own gain without thinking or caring about the people they are hurting.

To have the weight of the world on your shoulders
This is a fun expression. If you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, you have an overwhelming sense of responsibility, like the whole world needs you to work or provide for it. If you see someone who looks really worried, you might say that they look like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

A psychological blow
A blow is a hit. If someone hits you with their fist, it is a blow. The phrase a psychological blow describes an event that hits your psychology, that has a very strong negative impact on your psychology, how you feel about something. So if you think you are good at your job and you’re doing well and from nowhere, you are sacked, that might really shake your confidence. In that situation, you could describe being sacked as a psychological blow. When Andrea Pirlo scored against England with a Panenka, he wanted the goal to have a psychological impact and to make the England team feel worried, he wanted to deliver a psychological blow.

Today, I’ve spoken about 8 useful words and phrases.

The words and phrases were:

  • The pressure on someone
  • Nerve wracking
  • Stalemate
  • Strain
  • To get it in the neck
  • Ruthless
  • To have the weight of the world on your shoulders
  • A psychological blow

Listen to the stories one more time to hear this language in context.

The Penaty Shootout

In a cup competition, like the Euros or the World Cup, there isn’t enough time for a replay for matches that finish in a draw. You have to have a winner, so clubs take turns taking five penalties and then if the scores are still level, they take turns until someone misses or is blocked.

It works ... At the end, there is a winner, but the pressure on the players is so great. And for the fans, it’s nerve-wracking. I find penalty shootouts hard to watch ... But at the same time, impossible to look away from.

The main reason that as an England fan, I find penalty shootouts so ... stressful is England does not have a great record. In fact, until the other day, I couldn’t even remember winning a penalty shootout.

I looked up the stats and before the Switzerland match, England had only won three out of their last ten shootouts. I don’t remember the wins. I can only remember England losing really important matches in penalty shootouts. In 1990, England lost to Germany in the semi finals of the World Cup, and then again against Germany in the semi finals of the Euros in 1996 and then, in 2020, at the last Euros, England made it all the way to the final and then lost in a shootout to Italy. Bukayo Saka, who was only 19 at the time, had his penalty saved. He left the pitch with tears running down his cheeks.

In the past, matches were settled by replays which is great if you have time. However, when it wasn’t possible to schedule a replay, stalemates were settled by drawing lots. It was a bit like flipping a coin which is not very satisfying. In a penalty shootout, there is a lot luck involved, but there is definitely a lot of skill involved as well and shootouts are very exciting for fans.

The International Football Association Board started using penalties as a way of settling stalemates in 1970, but penalty shootouts weren’t used in a world cup until 1982. France and Germany finished level in their match and Alain Giresse volunteered or was selected to become the first ever penalty taker in a World Cup penalty shootout. There’s an article on FIFA.com in which he is quoted as saying ‘Football is normally a team game – that finishes and the shoot-out is you and them, face to face.’

When it’s your turn, you have to walk from your half to the penalty spot, carrying the hopes of your nation on your shoulders as you walk step by step towards the goal. Under normal circumstances, a penalty is a brilliant opportunity. The strain is normally all on the keeper. However, for a keeper, the pressure is not as great as it is on a striker. Saving a penalty is too much to ask. All the keeper has to do is try their best; they just have to dive one way or the other. I’m sure that goal keepers feel bad if they fail to stop the penalty that puts their side out of a competition. But in the UK press, strikers who miss or who are blocked get it in the neck. The UK tabloids were really ruthless in their criticism of Bukayo Saka after his shot was blocked.

So the pressure is really all on the penalty taker who has to walk to the spot, alone, with the weight of the world on their shoulders and when they get to the spot, they have a conundrum: how should they take the penalty? Should they hit the ball really hard, or should they aim at the far corners to push the ball out of reach of the diving keeper? Both these techniques make the penalty harder to save, but both these techniques also increase the likelihood of a mistake and there’s nothing the fans want to see less than a missed penalty.

Another alternative is to try a Panenka. This approach involves chipping the ball right into the centre of the goal, relying on the goalkeeper to dive out of the way. It’s called a Panenka in England after the Czech player Antonin Panenka who scored a decisive penalty in the final against West Germany Keeper Sepp Maier in the 1976 UEFA Euro final. The thing about the Panenka is it makes the goal keeper look a bit silly because they are seen to dive out of the ay of the ball and this can have a psychological impact in a penalty shootout. In eth Euro 2012 competition, England were defeated by Italy in a penalty shootout. In that shootout, Andrea Pirlo took a risk and scored with a Panenka because he thought it would deliver a psychological blow to England. Italy on 4-2 on penalties.

Last week, the England match against Switzerland, the quarter-final Euro match ended regular time 1-1. The teams played an added 30 minutes, but neither team was able to score again so the match was decided by a penalty shootout.

Cole Palmer was the first to step up for England. At Chelsea, he has the nickname Cold Palmer because he’s so cool under pressure. He scored with a confident strike into the bottom left. Next up was Manuel Akanji for Switzerland. Jordan Pickford looked confident on the goal line. A photographer with a long lens caught a list of players on Pickford’s water bottle. Next to Akanji’s it said dive left. Pickford’s research paid off and when Akanji drilled the ball towards the bottom right corner, Pickford dived the right way and saved the penalty. Next up was Jude Bellingham for England who scored with a coolly place ball into the bottom right. Then Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar scored for Switzerland. And then it was Bukayo Saka’s turn.

I can’t imagine the pressure he must have felt, stepping up to the spot, knowing that if he failed to score, his failure would disappoint millions of England supporters. So when he stepped up this time, the pressure must have been enormous, I’m sure it would have overwhelmed most people. I doubt I could even walk straight with that sort of pressure. But Saka is not an ordinary person. He’d already saved England once that evening when he equalised with a brilliant solo effort. And he is a regular penalty taker for Arsenal so that must have helped with his confidence. He showed enormous composure and played the ball low and to the right.

Then Xherdan Shaqiri struck well for Switzerland. Pickford dived the right way, but he ball sailed over him. Then Ivan Toney walked to the spot and scored after staring the goalkeeper down. Next up was Burnley forward Zeki Amdouni for Switzerland. He knew that he had to score. If he failed to score, Switzerland was out. He scored with a confident strike after his run up sent Pickford the wrong way.

Finally, it all came down to Trent Alexander Arnold. When he walked to the spot, he knew that if he scored, England would be through. Can you imagine the toe curling neck prickling pressure he must have been enduring as he stood for those few seconds, staring down the Swiss keeper?

The fans in the stadium and watching on screens were on tenterhooks. Whatever the Liverpool man was feeling, it didn’t show. He blasted the ball into the net and the crowd erupted into cheers of wild excitement and joy. The penalty takers did it and the following day the papers were full of stories heralding their heroics.

What do you think? Do you enjoy penalty shootouts? How well can you cope with the stress? Are they too nerve-wracking for you?

Language challenge

Now it’s time for this week’s language challenge. I have used AI to come up with 10 sentences that use the language from this week’s story. I have removed the language from the sentences so I want you to fill in the gaps with the words and phrases from the story.

Number 1. The CEO was known for her _________ business tactics, often cutting jobs to increase profits.

Number 2. They decided to hire an assistant to help relieve the ______ of their growing workload.

Number 3. Failing the final exam came as a _______________ to him, as he had studied so hard.

Number 4. Speaking in front of a large audience for the first time was a _____________ experience.

Number 5. The coach is under ________ to lead the team to victory this season.

Number 6. After being promoted to CEO, she felt _______________________________ with all the new responsibilities.

Number 7. The negotiations between the two countries reached a ________, with neither side willing to compromise.

Number 8. The manager got it ___________ for the team’s poor performance in the tournament.

Leave your answers to this language challenge in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website.

Football phrase

Now it’s time for this week's football phrases.

This week’s football phrase is the noun ********. This is a special way to describe a person or a club that they have earned or that describes them better. So in the story, I said that Cole Palmer has earned the ******** Cold Palmer because he is so cool under pressure.

This week’s fiendish football phrase is **** ****. This is a detailed strategy or series of tactics that a player can prepare before a match or competition that they think will help them succeed. Pickford had his shootout **** **** literally written on the side of his water bottle.

If you know the answer to the football phrase or the fiendish football phrase, be sure to leave them in a comment on the page for this podcast on Premier Skills English.

Task

The last things I want you to think about today are three discussion questions

Question 1: How do you feel when your team has to settle a match with a penalty shootout?

Question 2: Do you think that a penalty shootout is a good way to settle a stalemate?

Question 3: Can you think of another way to settle a stalemate?

Please share your ideas on the page for this podcast on Premier Skills English.

Before I finish, I am going to go through the answers to the last language challenge.

Number 1. The netball team practised their passing drills to improve their throwing and catching.

Number 2. Emily won a gold medal in gymnastics for her flawless routine on the balance beam.

Number 3. The captain scored the winning goal leading his football team to win the championship after a thrilling final match.

Number 4. The cricket match lasted for five days and ended in a thrilling draw.

Number 5. The hockey team practised their stickhandling and passing drills.

Number 6. Wimbledon is one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world.

Number 7. She bought a new badminton racket to improve her game.

Number 8. They went rock climbing in the mountains during their holiday.

Number 9. She practised her flips, twists and somersaults during her trampolining session.

Number 10. She participated in a cross-country race through the forest.

And that’s all I have time for today. Before I finish, I just wanted to say that I hope you found this podcast useful, and I hope everyone stays fit and healthy and safe.

Bye for now and enjoy your football.

Story

The Penaty Shootout

Players of England celebrate the sides winning penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2024 quarter-final match between England and Switzerland

In a cup competition, like the Euros or the World Cup, there isn’t enough time for a replay for matches that finish in a draw. You have to have a winner, so clubs take turns taking five penalties and then if the scores are still level, they take turns until someone misses or is blocked.

It works ... At the end, there is a winner, but the pressure on the players is so great. And for the fans, it’s nerve-wracking. I find penalty shootouts hard to watch ... But at the same time, impossible to look away from.

The main reason that as an England fan, I find penalty shootouts so ... stressful is England does not have a great record. In fact, until the other day, I couldn’t even remember winning a penalty shootout.

I looked up the stats and before the Switzerland match, England had only won three out of their last ten shootouts. I don’t remember the wins. I can only remember England losing really important matches in penalty shootouts. In 1990, England lost to Germany in the semi finals of the World Cup, and then again against Germany in the semi finals of the Euros in 1996 and then, in 2020, at the last Euros, England made it all the way to the final and then lost in a shootout to Italy. Bukayo Saka, who was only 19 at the time, had his penalty saved. He left the pitch with tears running down his cheeks.

In the past, matches were settled by replays which is great if you have time. However, when it wasn’t possible to schedule a replay, stalemates were settled by drawing lots. It was a bit like flipping a coin which is not very satisfying. In a penalty shootout, there is a lot luck involved, but there is definitely a lot of skill involved as well and shootouts are very exciting for fans.

The International Football Association Board started using penalties as a way of settling stalemates in 1970, but penalty shootouts weren’t used in a world cup until 1982. France and Germany finished level in their match and Alain Giresse volunteered or was selected to become the first ever penalty taker in a World Cup penalty shootout. There’s an article on FIFA.com in which he is quoted as saying ‘Football is normally a team game – that finishes and the shoot-out is you and them, face to face.’

When it’s your turn, you have to walk from your half to the penalty spot, carrying the hopes of your nation on your shoulders as you walk step by step towards the goal. Under normal circumstances, a penalty is a brilliant opportunity. The strain is normally all on the keeper. However, for a keeper, the pressure is not as great as it is on a striker. Saving a penalty is too much to ask. All the keeper has to do is try their best; they just have to dive one way or the other. I’m sure that goal keepers feel bad if they fail to stop the penalty that puts their side out of a competition. But in the UK press, strikers who miss or who are blocked get it in the neck. The UK tabloids were really ruthless in their criticism of Bukayo Saka after his shot was blocked.

So the pressure is really all on the penalty taker who has to walk to the spot, alone, with the weight of the world on their shoulders and when they get to the spot, they have a conundrum: how should they take the penalty? Should they hit the ball really hard, or should they aim at the far corners to push the ball out of reach of the diving keeper? Both these techniques make the penalty harder to save, but both these techniques also increase the likelihood of a mistake and there’s nothing the fans want to see less than a missed penalty.

Another alternative is to try a Panenka. This approach involves chipping the ball right into the centre of the goal, relying on the goalkeeper to dive out of the way. It’s called a Panenka in England after the Czech player Antonin Panenka who scored a decisive penalty in the final against West Germany Keeper Sepp Maier in the 1976 UEFA Euro final. The thing about the Panenka is it makes the goal keeper look a bit silly because they are seen to dive out of the ay of the ball and this can have a psychological impact in a penalty shootout. In eth Euro 2012 competition, England were defeated by Italy in a penalty shootout. In that shootout, Andrea Pirlo took a risk and scored with a Panenka because he thought it would deliver a psychological blow to England. Italy on 4-2 on penalties.

Last week, the England match against Switzerland, the quarter-final Euro match ended regular time 1-1. The teams played an added 30 minutes, but neither team was able to score again so the match was decided by a penalty shootout.

Cole Palmer was the first to step up for England. At Chelsea, he has the nickname Cold Palmer because he’s so cool under pressure. He scored with a confident strike into the bottom left. Next up was Manuel Akanji for Switzerland. Jordan Pickford looked confident on the goal line. A photographer with a long lens caught a list of players on Pickford’s water bottle. Next to Akanji’s it said dive left. Pickford’s research paid off and when Akanji drilled the ball towards the bottom right corner, Pickford dived the right way and saved the penalty.

Switzerland's defender Manuel Akanji shoots and misses in the penalty shootout during the UEFA Euro 2024 quarter-final football match

Next up was Jude Bellingham for England who scored with a coolly place ball into the bottom right. Then Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar scored for Switzerland. And then it was Bukayo Saka’s turn.

I can’t imagine the pressure he must have felt, stepping up to the spot, knowing that if he failed to score, his failure would disappoint millions of England supporters. So when he stepped up this time, the pressure must have been enormous, I’m sure it would have overwhelmed most people. I doubt I could even walk straight with that sort of pressure. But Saka is not an ordinary person. He’d already saved England once that evening when he equalised with a brilliant solo effort. And he is a regular penalty taker for Arsenal so that must have helped with his confidence. He showed enormous composure and played the ball low and to the right.

Then Xherdan Shaqiri struck well for Switzerland. Pickford dived the right way, but he ball sailed over him. Then Ivan Toney walked to the spot and scored after staring the goalkeeper down. Next up was Burnley forward Zeki Amdouni for Switzerland. He knew that he had to score. If he failed to score, Switzerland was out. He scored with a confident strike after his run up sent Pickford the wrong way.

Finally, it all came down to Trent Alexander Arnold. When he walked to the spot, he knew that if he scored, England would be through. Can you imagine the toe curling neck prickling pressure he must have been enduring as he stood for those few seconds, staring down the Swiss keeper?

The fans in the stadium and watching on screens were on tenterhooks. Whatever the Liverpool man was feeling, it didn’t show. He blasted the ball into the net and the crowd erupted into cheers of wild excitement and joy. The penalty takers did it and the following day the papers were full of stories heralding their heroics.

What do you think? Do you enjoy penalty shootouts? How well can you cope with the stress? Are they too nerve-wracking for you?

Vocabulary

Language Focus

The words from the story that I want to talk about are:

  • The pressure on someone
  • Nerve wracking
  • Stalemate
  • Strain
  • To get it in the neck
  • Ruthless
  • To have the weight of the world on your shoulders
  • A psychological blow

The pressure on someone
When we talk about pressure on a person, we are talking abut the emotional or mental stress that a person feels when there are very high expectations. So if you have lots to do at work or if your job has a lot of responsibility, then you could say that there is a lot of pressure on you because of your job. Normally, people feel pressure before an exam or generally at school, if their parents have very high expectations, or at work, if they are responsible for a lot of people and they are worried about being able to help everyone. We use the verb put with pressure to say that something makes someone feel pressure. We say it’s putting a lot of pressure on her. We also say that someone is under pressure, for example, Gareth Southgate is under a lot of pressure from the media and fans. When Bukayo Saka stepped up to take his penalty kick, he must have felt really stressed because of the pressure he was under to score.

Nerve-wracking
The adjective nerve-wracking describes events that make you feel very stressed and nervous. In biology, your nerves are the special cells that transmit information around your body. However, in this situation, your nerves describes your level of stress or worry. So, if you are in a tense situation, you might say your nerves are on edge or your nerves are jangling. You might need to take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves or soothe your nerves.

The verb to wrack, comes from a medieval torture device that was used to stretch people so a situation is nerve-wracking if it tortures or badly hurts your nerves. We don’t use the verb to wrack in many other phrases. You might hear that someone was wracked with guilt after they had done something wrong, meaning, they were tortured by guilt because of what they did and if you have to think really hard to remember something, you can say that you wracked your brain, but these phrases are not very common, at least, not as common as the adjective nerve-wracking.

Stalemate
The noun stalemate describes a situation where two people or teams that are competing with each other are stuck and neither team can advance. The word comes from the game of chess. In chess, if a player cannot move, but they are not in check, then the game is over and neither player has won. Outside of chess, we use the word to describe situations where people or teams or organizations are unable to make progress in negotiations or other deals.

Strain
The noun strain is very similar to pressure. It describes a state of stress or tension. It can also be used to talk about an injury to muscles and joints, but in the story, I used it as a synonym for pressure. I think, and this is just my sense of the word, that situations that continue for a very long time put a strain on people. So if you have a problem at work that you can deal with, but not solve, over time, the strain that it puts you under will have an impact on your nerves and well-being. However, in most cases, strain and pressure are very similar.

To get it in the neck
To get it in the neck is an informal expression that means to be severely criticised or told off for something. So if you don’t do your homework and your teacher is really strict, you might get it in the neck at school. I tried looking up the origin of this phrase and all I could find was a connection between to get it, meaning to be hurt or punished and the neck being a sensitive or vulnerable part of the body. The phrase is more common in British English.

Ruthless
The word ruthless is used to describe someone who will do anything they can to achieve their goal, without thinking about the impact or how much it might hurt others. If someone is ruthless, they have no empathy, no compassion or pity for others. It’s commonly used to talk about criminals who rob and cheat people for their own gain without thinking or caring about the people they are hurting.

To have the weight of the world on your shoulders
This is a fun expression. If you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, you have an overwhelming sense of responsibility, like the whole world needs you to work or provide for it. If you see someone who looks really worried, you might say that they look like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

A psychological blow
A blow is a hit. If someone hits you with their fist, it is a blow. The phrase a psychological blow describes an event that hits your psychology, that has a very strong negative impact on your psychology, how you feel about something. So if you think you are good at your job and you’re doing well and from nowhere, you are sacked, that might really shake your confidence. In that situation, you could describe being sacked as a psychological blow. When Andrea Pirlo scored against England with a Panenka, he wanted the goal to have a psychological impact and to make the England team feel worried, he wanted to deliver a psychological blow.

Challenge

Language challenge

Now it’s time for this week’s language challenge. I have used AI to come up with 10 sentences that use the language from this week’s story. I have removed the language from the sentences so I want you to fill in the gaps with the words and phrases from the story.

Number 1. The CEO was known for her _________ business tactics, often cutting jobs to increase profits.

Number 2. They decided to hire an assistant to help relieve the ______ of their growing workload.

Number 3. Failing the final exam came as a _______________ to him, as he had studied so hard.

Number 4. Speaking in front of a large audience for the first time was a _____________ experience.

Number 5. The coach is under ________ to lead the team to victory this season.

Number 6. After being promoted to CEO, she felt _______________________________ with all the new responsibilities.

Number 7. The negotiations between the two countries reached a ________, with neither side willing to compromise.

Number 8. The manager got it ___________ for the team’s poor performance in the tournament.

Leave your answers to this language challenge in the comments section at the bottom of the page

Football phrase

Football phrase

Now it’s time for this week's football phrases.

This week’s football phrase is the noun ********. This is a special way to describe a person or a club that they have earned or that describes them better. So in the story, I said that Cole Palmer has earned the ******** Cold Palmer because he is so cool under pressure.

This week’s fiendish football phrase is **** ****. This is a detailed strategy or series of tactics that a player can prepare before a match or competition that they think will help them succeed. Pickford had his shootout **** **** literally written on the side of his water bottle.

If you know the answer to the football phrase or the fiendish football phrase, be sure to leave it in a comment at the bottom of this page.

Task

Discussion questions

Question 1: How do you feel when your team has to settle a match with a penalty shootout?

Question 2: Do you think that a penalty shootout is a good way to settle a stalemate?

Question 3: Can you think of another way to settle a stalemate?

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Komentar

leofabiano's picture
leofabiano
12/07/2024
BR
16
points

Hello Jack!

My guesses for the football phrase and fiendish football phrase are: ******* and strategy

Here are the answers for this week´s Language Challenge

Number 1. The CEO was known for her ruthless business tactics, often cutting jobs to increase profits.

Number 2. They decided to hire an assistant to help relieve the strain of their growing workload.

Number 3. Failing the final exam came as a psychological blow to him, as he had studied so hard.

Number 4. Speaking in front of a large audience for the first time was a nerve wracking experience.

Number 5. The coach is under pressure to lead the team to victory this season.

Number 6. After being promoted to CEO, she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders with all the new responsibilities.

Number 7. The negotiations between the two countries reached a stalemate, with neither side willing to compromise.

Number 8. The manager got it in the neck for the team’s poor performance in the tournament.

How do you feel when your team has to settle a match with a penalty shootout?
When my team (Sao Paulo) is involved in a penalty shootout, it is nerve-wracking for me.
However, when the penalty shootout is between other teams, I really like to watch it.

Question 2: Do you think that a penalty shootout is a good way to settle a stalemate?
From my point of view, it is a good way, because involves psychological control and technique to put the ball into the net on top of that it´s very exciting.

Question 3: Can you think of another way to settle a stalemate?
I like the penalty shootout, however, for a less nervous way to settle a stalemate, they maybe can use the number of yellow and red cards or the number of corner kicks.
If I remember well, the FPF (Federação Paulista de Futebol) have used these criteria in an under-21 championship. It was kind of no fun in the end, but the funniest part was when a player of the other team took a yellow or red card, the supporters in the stadium celebrated like a goal :))

Regards,
Leo


leofabiano's picture
leofabiano
12/07/2024 22:11
Brazil
Tottenham Hotspur
16

Hello Jack!

My guesses for the football phrase and fiendish football phrase are: ******* and strategy

Here are the answers for this week´s Language Challenge

Number 1. The CEO was known for her ruthless business tactics, often cutting jobs to increase profits.

Number 2. They decided to hire an assistant to help relieve the strain of their growing workload.

Number 3. Failing the final exam came as a psychological blow to him, as he had studied so hard.

Number 4. Speaking in front of a large audience for the first time was a nerve wracking experience.

Number 5. The coach is under pressure to lead the team to victory this season.

Number 6. After being promoted to CEO, she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders with all the new responsibilities.

Number 7. The negotiations between the two countries reached a stalemate, with neither side willing to compromise.

Number 8. The manager got it in the neck for the team’s poor performance in the tournament.

How do you feel when your team has to settle a match with a penalty shootout?
When my team (Sao Paulo) is involved in a penalty shootout, it is nerve-wracking for me.
However, when the penalty shootout is between other teams, I really like to watch it.

Question 2: Do you think that a penalty shootout is a good way to settle a stalemate?
From my point of view, it is a good way, because involves psychological control and technique to put the ball into the net on top of that it´s very exciting.

Question 3: Can you think of another way to settle a stalemate?
I like the penalty shootout, however, for a less nervous way to settle a stalemate, they maybe can use the number of yellow and red cards or the number of corner kicks.
If I remember well, the FPF (Federação Paulista de Futebol) have used these criteria in an under-21 championship. It was kind of no fun in the end, but the funniest part was when a player of the other team took a yellow or red card, the supporters in the stadium celebrated like a goal :))

Regards,
Leo

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
15/07/2024
GB
22
points

Hi Leofabiano

I like that idea. It would also make people take more care about the rules. 

I'm afraid I've made a mistake with the FFP. It should be **** ****. I'm afraid I read it recently in an article as ********, but when I looked it up, it's **** **** in the dictionary.

Thanks

Jack


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
15/07/2024 06:59
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

Hi Leofabiano

I like that idea. It would also make people take more care about the rules. 

I'm afraid I've made a mistake with the FFP. It should be **** ****. I'm afraid I read it recently in an article as ********, but when I looked it up, it's **** **** in the dictionary.

Thanks

Jack

hsn's picture
hsn
12/07/2024
TR
5542
points

Language challenge
1. The CEO was known for her ruthless business tactics, often cutting jobs to increase profits.----- May Allah (=God) protect the employees from her evil:-):-):-)
2. They decided to hire an assistant to help relieve the strain of their growing workload.
3. Failing the final exam came as a psychological blow to him, as he had studied so hard.
4. Speaking in front of a large audience for the first time was a nerve wracking experience.
5. The coach is under the pressure to lead the team to victory this season.
6. After being promoted to CEO, she felt to have the weight of the world on her shoulders with all the new responsibilities.
7. The negotiations between the two countries reached a stalemate with neither side willing to compromise.
8. The manager got it in the neck for the team’s poor performance in the tournament.
Football phrase; ******* -Mission
Task
1: I would loose all my hopes. Leaving things to the last minute is a desperate situation.. I usually do not watch penalty shootouts.
2: Absolutely not. Rematch is a fair way. Cup tournaments could be scheduled with option of replay for matches.
3: Stalemate is a situation in which two teams have almost the same level features.Rematch gives opportunity to the managers to review and evaluate both teams's strength and weakness to determine new formation and tactics.
Notes
• Good luck to the teams of the final match of Euro 2024. May the best team win.(This is a cliche in my language)
• "Working under pressure" is one of the essential qualifications is looked for job appliers.
• "Mild" pressure is a preferable key of achievement.


hsn's picture
hsn
12/07/2024 17:53
Turkey
Tottenham Hotspur
5542

Language challenge
1. The CEO was known for her ruthless business tactics, often cutting jobs to increase profits.----- May Allah (=God) protect the employees from her evil:-):-):-)
2. They decided to hire an assistant to help relieve the strain of their growing workload.
3. Failing the final exam came as a psychological blow to him, as he had studied so hard.
4. Speaking in front of a large audience for the first time was a nerve wracking experience.
5. The coach is under the pressure to lead the team to victory this season.
6. After being promoted to CEO, she felt to have the weight of the world on her shoulders with all the new responsibilities.
7. The negotiations between the two countries reached a stalemate with neither side willing to compromise.
8. The manager got it in the neck for the team’s poor performance in the tournament.
Football phrase; ******* -Mission
Task
1: I would loose all my hopes. Leaving things to the last minute is a desperate situation.. I usually do not watch penalty shootouts.
2: Absolutely not. Rematch is a fair way. Cup tournaments could be scheduled with option of replay for matches.
3: Stalemate is a situation in which two teams have almost the same level features.Rematch gives opportunity to the managers to review and evaluate both teams's strength and weakness to determine new formation and tactics.
Notes
• Good luck to the teams of the final match of Euro 2024. May the best team win.(This is a cliche in my language)
• "Working under pressure" is one of the essential qualifications is looked for job appliers.
• "Mild" pressure is a preferable key of achievement.

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
15/07/2024
GB
22
points

Hi Hasan

I'm sorry, but I have made a mistake with the fiendish football phrase. It should be **** ****. I read the word in an article recently and it was written as one word, but when I looked it up, in the dictionary, it's two.

Thanks

Jack


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
15/07/2024 06:54
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

Hi Hasan

I'm sorry, but I have made a mistake with the fiendish football phrase. It should be **** ****. I read the word in an article recently and it was written as one word, but when I looked it up, in the dictionary, it's two.

Thanks

Jack

hsn's picture
hsn
15/07/2024
TR
5542
points

Hi Jack, it doesn’t matter:-) In my society, at the situation like this an expression “Don’t let it happen again” is said jokingly:-). Pickford had have great performance in Euro 2024. Notes on the side of his water bottle functionally help to remember something. So my choice is “Memo note(s)” Bye and take care.


hsn's picture
hsn
15/07/2024 12:51
Turkey
Tottenham Hotspur
5542

Hi Jack, it doesn’t matter:-) In my society, at the situation like this an expression “Don’t let it happen again” is said jokingly:-). Pickford had have great performance in Euro 2024. Notes on the side of his water bottle functionally help to remember something. So my choice is “Memo note(s)” Bye and take care.

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024
UA
6313
points

GUIDANCE or MANEUVER may be the FFP.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024 11:51
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

GUIDANCE or MANEUVER may be the FFP.

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024
GB
22
points

I love that you are still going with this. I think I'm going to have to give you another clue. I just looked this up and ... I'm really sorry. I promise you, I read this in an article about Jordan Pickford. The article said that Gary Lineker was urging Pickford not to stick his ******** to his water bottle. However, I just looked the word up and in the online Cambridge dictionary, it is **** ****, not ********. I'm really sorry Alex. I hope this makes it easier for you. 


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024 16:15
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

I love that you are still going with this. I think I'm going to have to give you another clue. I just looked this up and ... I'm really sorry. I promise you, I read this in an article about Jordan Pickford. The article said that Gary Lineker was urging Pickford not to stick his ******** to his water bottle. However, I just looked the word up and in the online Cambridge dictionary, it is **** ****, not ********. I'm really sorry Alex. I hope this makes it easier for you. 

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024
UA
6313
points

Then it might be **** ****.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024 18:14
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

Then it might be **** ****.

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
13/07/2024
GB
22
points

Well done - that's right. I really messed up this time with the stars for both phrases. I will have to eat some humble pie in the next podcast.


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
13/07/2024 15:46
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

Well done - that's right. I really messed up this time with the stars for both phrases. I will have to eat some humble pie in the next podcast.

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024
UA
6313
points

Question 3: Can you think of another way to settle a stalemate?

Yes. I was helped by Jack's commentary, thanks, Jack. Shootouts after added time should be performed ONLY by goalkeepers alternately until one of them fails (either as striker or keeper) and another gets a point.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024 08:26
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

Question 3: Can you think of another way to settle a stalemate?

Yes. I was helped by Jack's commentary, thanks, Jack. Shootouts after added time should be performed ONLY by goalkeepers alternately until one of them fails (either as striker or keeper) and another gets a point.

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024
GB
22
points

Thanks Alex - I like this idea. 


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024 08:47
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

Thanks Alex - I like this idea. 

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024
UA
6313
points

SCENARIO may be the FFP.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024 08:20
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

SCENARIO may be the FFP.

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024
UA
6313
points

******** may be the FP.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024 08:17
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

******** may be the FP.

BrandonArsenal
12/07/2024
CO
1
points

Hello the football phrase is: ********


BrandonArsenal
12/07/2024 01:42
Colombia
Arsenal
1

Hello the football phrase is: ********

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
11/07/2024
UA
6313
points

Question 2: Do you think that a penalty shootout is a good way to settle a stalemate?

Yes, I do. There's, unfortunately, a certain bias in doing this. A researcher holds that a team which has the first strike has a handicap: it wins in 60% of shootouts. If it's true, football gurus must find a better way when teams are in a stalemate. This researcher proposes another order while shooting out, not alternately.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
11/07/2024 17:42
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

Question 2: Do you think that a penalty shootout is a good way to settle a stalemate?

Yes, I do. There's, unfortunately, a certain bias in doing this. A researcher holds that a team which has the first strike has a handicap: it wins in 60% of shootouts. If it's true, football gurus must find a better way when teams are in a stalemate. This researcher proposes another order while shooting out, not alternately.

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024
GB
22
points

This is really interesting. I can see how the pressure is increased on the second team, they are having to catch up with the team that goes first.

I was hoping for some creative suggestions. How about the after 20 mins of added time, the goalkeepers have to leave the pitch? 


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024 05:35
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

This is really interesting. I can see how the pressure is increased on the second team, they are having to catch up with the team that goes first.

I was hoping for some creative suggestions. How about the after 20 mins of added time, the goalkeepers have to leave the pitch? 

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024
UA
6313
points

Added time is not the answer. Besides, shootouts usually happen after it was allocated with no success. The idea "without keepers" imho too. I'd propose the same shootouts, only they are performed by keepers only alternately. Until one of them fails. It seems to me being shorter procedure.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024 08:10
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

Added time is not the answer. Besides, shootouts usually happen after it was allocated with no success. The idea "without keepers" imho too. I'd propose the same shootouts, only they are performed by keepers only alternately. Until one of them fails. It seems to me being shorter procedure.

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
11/07/2024
UA
6313
points

APPROACH or PLANNING is the FFP.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
11/07/2024 17:29
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

APPROACH or PLANNING is the FFP.

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024
GB
22
points

Good guesses. These both fit the description, but are not the FFP that I am looking for. I think the FFP comes from American English, or at least, it sounds a bit American. 


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024 05:31
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

Good guesses. These both fit the description, but are not the FFP that I am looking for. I think the FFP comes from American English, or at least, it sounds a bit American. 

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
11/07/2024
UA
6313
points

MONIKER is the FP.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
11/07/2024 17:26
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

MONIKER is the FP.

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024
GB
22
points

This is a fantastic guess and might have been correct if this were the FFP. I'm looking for something simpler. I might have made a mistake with the number of stars - there should be 8.


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024 05:32
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

This is a fantastic guess and might have been correct if this were the FFP. I'm looking for something simpler. I might have made a mistake with the number of stars - there should be 8.

hsn's picture
hsn
12/07/2024
TR
5542
points

Hi Jack, I was about sending a message to remind you 8.th star that is a rising star:-) FF; *******.Bye.


hsn's picture
hsn
12/07/2024 07:34
Turkey
Tottenham Hotspur
5542

Hi Jack, I was about sending a message to remind you 8.th star that is a rising star:-) FF; *******.Bye.

Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024
GB
22
points

Thanks Hasan - it's very impressive that Alex has managed to come up with a fitting answer despite the wrong number of letters!


Jack Radford's picture
Jack Radford
12/07/2024 07:37
United Kingdom
Arsenal
22

Thanks Hasan - it's very impressive that Alex has managed to come up with a fitting answer despite the wrong number of letters!

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024
UA
6313
points

Maybe MONICKER is the FP?


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
12/07/2024 08:16
Ukraine
Liverpool
6313

Maybe MONICKER is the FP?

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