Written by Esther Sanz, regular contributor on the Spotahome Spanish blog
The football season is winding down. Barcelona seem to have the Spanish League all sown up, but there are still quite a few interesting clashes to watch with the (always) passionate Spanish football fans. The April 21st Spanish Cup Final between Barcelona and Sevilla is the first of the hyped "partido del siglo" (match of the Century). But there are also quite a few good Champions League matches, with either Barcelona or Real Madrid prepped as favourites to clinch the Kiev Final end-May. Also, Atlético de Madrid fans or "colchoneros" (mattress makers -given their red and white stripes) will support their team along the road to the UEFA Europa League Final.
Still this year, football fans are blessed with the World Cup in Russia in June-July. So, even more opportunities for foreigners to enjoy a balmy evening match with a cerveza in hand in one of the terrazas across Iberia. For clarity: to blend in with the passionate Spaniards by all means side with the locals.
As you know, football matches are almost 2 hours long, with plenty of interruptions. Spanish commentators will throw in all sorts of biased opinions and metaphors to liven up the retransmission.
Here are a few colloquial phrases to help foreigners understand proceedings, blend into the crowd and, if properly timed, even get invited to a cold "caña" (draft) or two.
The line up (all with "el" unless specified):
The goalkeeper or "portero" is also known as "cancerbero" (from Cerberus, the dog guarding the gates of hell in Greek mythology). A defender will be "zaguero" (from Basque handball). While wingers are "carrileros" (meaning lane runners and tricksters), the center forward will be referred to as "nueve" (nine) or "ariete" (ram). Be advised that when a small guy (partially) plays in that position he will be called a "falso nueve" (deceptive nine).
The ball handler or playmaker is "cerebro" (brain). And, if there are a couple or even three closely moving players in charge of breaking into the opponents they'll be anything from "doble pivote" (double pivot) or even a "tri-vote" (no translation). The midfield is also known as "la medular" (bone marrow).
The "árbitro" (referee) is always known by his two full last names. This handily includes his mother's so she can be properly referenced to throughout the match.
During the match:
Some English words have already migrated into Spanish: "Corner" (kick), "penalti" (shot) are used regularly. "Orsay" (offsides), "friqui" (free kick) or "gol" (goal) require a slight phonetic interpretation. Still, after over a century, the trainer/coach is still called "el mister".
Other words are absolutely undecipherable. The "elástica" is the team uniform- until a defender grabs a chunk of it proves it's not so elastic at all. A successful feint or dribble is a "regate". An overhead upside down kick is a "chilena" (Chilean).
And the League's Golden Boot is known as the "Pichichi" (a legendary early 1900's Bilbao player's nickname).
Some (always biased) nuances:
If our tackling player is called for a foul: always say "tocó balón" (he touched the ball). If it's a hand ball against, then there are three stages. First, "Tenía el brazo pegado al cuerpo" (had his arm glued to the body). If the replay shows the arm actually flying in the breeze "el balón ha ido a la mano" (it's THE ball that hit his hand). And, if it's just too obvious, then we emphatically say "ha sido in-vo-lun-ta-ria" (Clearly un-in-ten-tion-al. Bonus beer points if you also hold up one elbow with the other hand).
If a player misses the ball, the commentator might say it's a "semifallo" (a half-miss- as if one could also be half pregnant).
If it's one of ours, we justify saying the passer sent him a "melón" (melon), obviously an unplayable assist attempt.
For extra points, you can say the attacker "le ha hecho una sotana" (he's pulled a priest's frock) if the ball successfully passes between the defender's legs.
If in Madrid among "merengues" (meringues): Suppose Sergio Ramos kicks a goal chance ball into the grand stands. We will excuse the blunder saying "el balón no quiso entrar" (the ball just didn't want to go in). Anywhere else, we can say "éste ha pasado más tiempo en el estilista que entrenando" (the guy spent more time at his hairdresser's than at the training pitch.
If in Barcelona among "culés" (butt danglers- yes, it's a long story!): When Piqué or any other attack minded defender fails to get back in time giving opponents a goal chance: "No se puede estar en misa y repicando" (you can't be at Mass while ringing the church bells).
Anywhere else, "se le dan más rápidos los tuits" (he's faster tweeting), referring to Pique's prevalent use of incendiary social media.
After the match:
For unknown reasons, once the 90 minutes are up, injury or over time is known in Spanish as "tiempo de descuento" (discounted time).
If our team does not get a good result there are two views:
1) Conformist: "El fútbol es así" (that's football); "No hay enemigo pequeño" (there's no small adversary); "Se han dejado la piel" (they left their skin behind). But this would only be our position if our team was overwhelmingly outplayed.
2) Conspirational theorist: "Vaya robo" (we were robbed), "Ellos jugaban con 12" (they had 12 players); "La FIFA quiere que ganen los de siempre" (FIFA always wants the same guys to win).
If our guys win, just enjoy the contagious feel-good ambiance.
In any case, participate, enjoy the cheers, jeers and electrifying atmosphere. But, remember, whatever the result, as my grand-father used to say: "You know, I still have to get up to go to work tomorrow".
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