Are you a La Liga football fan? Then know these 10 Spanish words
Check out this list of expressions that no true LaLiga lover should be unfamiliar with
Consider yourself a big La Liga fan? Check out this list of expressions that no true La Liga lover should be unfamiliar with.
A ‘croqueta’ is a way of quickly shifting the ball between a player’s feet, especially when tempting a defender into making a challenge by first slowing down and then sprinting away. The signature move of former Barcelona captain and nine-time LaLiga winner Andres Iniesta, the word literally means ‘croquette,’ that famous staple of Spanish tapa bars and granny’s cooking.
In Spanish Sombrero is a hat, but in Spanish football it is where a player lifts the ball over his opponent’s head and controls it as it drops to the floor, leaving his rival confused and out of the play. A famous example would be Neymar’s goal for Barcelona against Villarreal in LaLiga in 2016, which was nominated for that year’s FIFA Puskas award.
When a player pushes himself into the air with one foot, then acrobatically volleys it with the other, often lifting his boot well over head height. Similar to a ‘bicycle kick’ in English. Although a ‘Chilena’ literally refers to someone from Chile, its most famous exponent was Mexico international Hugo Sanchez. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have more recently scored screamers like this.
4. “Colgarse del larguero”
Literally meaning ‘hang from the goalposts,’ the expression is used when a team brings all their players back to defend inside their own penalty area. Similar to the English phrase ‘Park the bus,’ the tactic is often used by a team defending a narrow lead or facing a much more powerful opponent and used to criticise them by managers whose team cannot find a way through.
5. “Hacer la cama”
A team thought to not be making 100% effort in games can be said to be ‘making the bed’ for their coach, which means trying – consciously or not – to get their boss fired!
The patented signature move of legendary 1920s and 30s Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora was to fake catch a ball, then double his arm, flex his elbow and propel the ball far up the pitch with surprising power. Besides clearing danger from his own box, the ‘Zamorana’ often helped start counter-attacks and had a highly demoralising effect on shocked opposition strikers, too.
7. “Tirarse en la piscina”
To ‘throw yourself into the swimming pool’ is a nicely poetic Spanish way of saying a player dived, or threw himself to the ground without any contact from a defender, to deceive the referee into whistling for a foul. Sometimes also described as ‘simulación’ which is closer to the English ‘simulation.’
8. “Tener flor”
A player, or more often a coach, who ‘has a flower’ is thought to have good fortune, similar to being 'charmed’ in English. The expression is also often used by defeated opposition fans or pundits as a way to avoid praising tactical or technical excellence in an opposition team.
When a player plants one foot in front of the ball, and then sweeps his other leg around behind to spectacularly strike the ball, you have a ‘Rabona.’ One-time Barcelona winger Ricardo Quaresma is an expert, while former Villarreal midfielder Pablo Fornals scored a superb rabona against Huesca in 2019.
10. “Pase de la Muerte”
The ‘pass of death’ has a specific meaning in Spanish football. It refers to a through ball which breaks an offside trap to leave a teammate clear in front of goal. Quite a few of Barça captain Lionel Messi’s 12 LaLiga assists this season have met this description. Deadly, and very hard to defend against.
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