Top 10 stupid phrases about football that we hear way too much

Football having been practiced for more than a century in our beautiful country, the years have seen the emergence of thinkers, sages who, thanks to a passage through AS Saint Etienne, vehemently assert truths about what is pass on the meadow. Sometimes, we are surprised at the intelligence of the sentences of footballers. Not often: the problem with ready-made sentences is that they are not necessarily completely true sentences. Small anthology of sentences engraved in the marble of the round ball, without knowing why…

1. “Just before half-time is the best time to score”

To spoil the atmosphere in the locker room? While it is even more profitable to score just AFTER half-time, once the opposing coach has given his instructions and we explode them in 2 minutes. A fair goal on the restart calls into question the entire opposing strategy, and it’s even harder to digest. But a goal is still a goal, just before or just after half-time. Even at the 20th.

2. “To dominate is to win”

I’m not teaching you anything by telling you that this sentence is obviously false as the contrary examples are multiplying. One of the most notable is the France-Brazil match in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico in which Brazil monopolized the ball, but lost to the blues in the penalty shootout.

Other examples during the 2018 World Cup where Germany and Spain had much more possession of the ball, but failed to win their match…

In short, having the ball is good, but scoring is better.

3. “A great player plays with both feet”

Except when you have Messi’s left foot or Luigi Riva’s efficiency. When you only have one foot, you use the inside AND the outside, and you have the right to become a great player.

4. “Football is a sport that is played eleven against eleven, and in the end, Germany wins”

We owe this phrase to the famous English striker Gary Lineker. Well it’s not totally false, but it’s not totally true either when we know that the Germans lost to Korea (2-0) at the World Cup in 2018, or that they were knocked out (2 more -0) from the 8th against England in the last edition of the euro.

5. “Teams are sometimes more dangerous at 10”

Often followed by a “but not always”. No team has ever sought to get a red card to have a player sent off in order to supposedly become “more dangerous” as the legend would have it. Usually, teams are reduced to 10 simply because one of the players made a move that was too dangerous, such as a bad tackle, but they are very rarely more formidable than an 11-player team.

6. “Whoever wins the first leg by at least 2 goals difference is necessarily qualified for the next round”

What’s funny is that this sentence should be true, but life has many surprises in store for us (it would be boring otherwise), and we have seen many comebacks in the history of football: Barça’s comeback against PSG in 2017, the comeback of Metz against Barça in 2014 or even Juve de CR7 against Atletico Madrid in 2019. As we say, you must always be wary of sleeping water.

7. “The most difficult thing in football is control”

Another sentence that we owe to Michel Platini. To which FC Nantes coach Jean-Claude Suaudeau replied “So OK, I say: we play without control”. And FC Nantes was champion of France. Like what.

8. “First post, first served”

This is a sentence that Jean-Michel Larqué, famous sports journalist lent to Just Fontaine (former French player and trainer), when he could not place “flat foot, safety”. Well, it’s not totally false in itself: during a corner, the one who is placed at the near post will have a better chance of receiving the ball and therefore of scoring. But it’s the kind of remarks that don’t add much to the analysis, it doesn’t mean much, but it justifies a consultant status.

9. “Luck is part of the talent of a great goalkeeper”

Luck is part of the success of any team, indeed any player. A very great goalkeeper is above all someone who has relaxation, explosiveness and confidence, and not a goalkeeper who manages to direct the opposing shots on his posts by the sheer force of thought, and with a bit of luck.

Top 10 stupid phrases about football that we hear way too much
Photo credits (CC BY-SA 3.0): Nick Wiebe 06:19, 30 October 2007 (UTC), edited by Fir0002

10. “Bad pitch puts more technical teams at a disadvantage”

It’s well known that filthy, sloping ground with a badly mown lawn is whey for big nags at the bottom of the table. On a potato field, Francis Llacer is Lionel Messi.

As you will have understood, bad grounds disadvantage everyone, and perhaps even more weak teams. Nobody likes to play on a minefield, neither the technical players nor the others.

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