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Spanish soccer

Everything You Need to Know About Spanish Soccer

Spain is not only a country of fiestas, jamón Serrano, and flamenco. Spanish soccer might be the main reason this Mediterranean country is famous.

The Spanish soccer game is a big part of Spanish culture and by far the most popular sport in Spain. In every souvenir shop in Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia, and even other cities, you will find symbols of the Spain soccer game, such as jersies, or a mug with popular Spanish soccer players.

The culture and the language go hand in hand, so it’s a must that you know something about Spanish soccer. If you are a Spanish soccer teams fan then this is the right place for you to learn some soccer vocabulary.

So, let’s dive into the culture, facts, and vocabulary related to Spanish soccer.

Spanish Soccer Culture

The National Sport

Without a doubt, soccer is the national sport in Spain. Spaniards are very passionate when it comes to the Spanish soccer game, especially when the national team plays. The entire country can stop for an important game and it will be the only thing that the news talks about for a long time.

There are even tv programs and newspapers that exclusively talk about Spanish soccer. Soccer, soccer, soccer! It seems to be everywhere at any time!

Spanish Soccer and TV

You are in Spain and want to watch a soccer a Spain soccer game? It’s simple, there is always some kind of Spanish soccer game throughout the week. You can choose among La Liga Española, La Liga de Campeones, La Copa de la UEFA, La Copa del Rey… you name it! Also, if you cannot watch a Spain soccer game for any reason, don’t worry, the replay or at least the best plays will be on television soon.

How do Spaniards Watch Soccer?

People usually watch Spanish soccer at home, in bars, or at the stadium. If they decide to watch a game at home, they may bring friends or family to cheer for their Spanish soccer teams while yelling at the players and referees as if they could hear them. If you could only see that scene!

At bars, people get together to drink and eat something while watching the match, again cheering and yelling at the players and other members of the Spanish soccer teams. You can really feel like you’re at the stadium.

The same thing happens at the actual stadium but maybe with more passion, given that the match is right in front of you. Before the game starts, you can feel the festive environment around you.

People gather at bars to drink and eat while discussing who may win, who deserves to win or the possible score. The stadium is full of excited fans wearing their favorite Spanish soccer teams’ jerseys and carrying flags. During the game, they sing, cheer, and protest against referees and the opposing team.

People watching a Spanish soccer game in a stadium
People watching a Spanish soccer game in a stadium

When it Comes to Important Matches

If the Spanish soccer teams play an important game (like a national team game), usually a giant television screen is placed in the city centers so people can easily watch and support their teams.

Bars and restaurants have much more work than normal. Fans come and do the same they would do in other places: cheer, yell, celebrate goals… The only difference is that, besides the Spanish soccer game, you can also enjoy the nice weather in Spain while watching from the patio.

When the game ends, there is still time to drink or eat something at the bars to celebrate the victory or to cry over a beer about the fact that their team lost.

However, if the victory is a historic one or against an eternal rival (such as Real Madrid), fans go to symbolic places to celebrate. Among these places are La Fuente de Cibeles in Madrid and La Fuente de la Canaletas in Barcelona.

Spanish Soccer Facts You Didn’t Know

1. In Spanish, soccer is fútbol. 

2. La Liga, also known as La Primera División, is the men’s top professional soccer league in Spain and one of the most important in the world. Unlike the USA leagues, teams that are part of La Liga can be relegated to the second league. Also, teams from the second league can get promoted to La Liga.

3. F. C. Barcelona (also known as Barça) followed by Real Madrid are the teams with the most spectators during games with 38,496 and 35,018 spectators on average respectively according to the data from Statista in the 2019-2020 season.

4. Real Madrid is the world’s most valuable soccer team, and Barça is the second. If you are a Barça fan, take a look at these jerseys right here. But if you prefer Real Madrid’s, you can buy them by clicking here.

5. There are more Spanish soccer teams besides Real Madrid and Barça that are part of La Liga. There are 20 teams in total, including Atlético de Bilbao, Atlético de Madrid, Valencia, Real Sociedad, and Espanyol.

6. Real Madrid fans are called merengues, while Barça fans are called blaugranas, azulgrana or culés, and Espanyol fans are called periquitos. Below, you can see the origin of some Spanish soccer teams’ nicknames.

7. Camp Nou (Catalan for New Field), Barça’s soccer stadium, is the largest stadium in Europe and the fourth largest soccer stadium in the world. It can hold around 100,000 spectators!

8. Spaniards call their national team La Roja. You can purchase a Spain national soccer team jersey by clicking here.

9. The men’s Spanish national soccer team won the 2010 World Cup for the first time, while the Spanish women’s national soccer team won their first FIFA World Cup in 2023.

10. The 1982 World Cup took place in Spain.

Soccer World Cup national flags
Soccer World Cup national flags

Origin of Some Spanish Soccer Teams Nicknames

According to the official website of La Liga, the nickname of Madrid fans is merengues because the color of their jerseys is similar to the color of the dessert meringue (or merengue in Spanish).

La Liga’s webpage also states that the name culés, what we today call Barça fans, emerged in the 20 century. The stands of the stadium where Barça used to play couldn’t hold all the fans. Because of this, some of the fans used to sit down on the walls around the stadium.

The first thing a person would see when walking by the stadium was the fans’ butts sitting on the walls. Due to this, Barça fans were known as culers, which is pronounced as culés. This word comes from the Catalan word cul, which means butt.

Another nickname of Barça fans is blaugrana. This word comes from the Catalan words blau (blue) and granat (deep-red). In Spanish, we translate it as azulgrana.

According to the La Liga website, periquitos became a popular word for Espanyol fans in the 20th century. The nickname comes from the fact that Espanyol used to play at a stadium that used to be frequented by a lot of periquitos (parakeets).

Spanish Soccer Vocabulary

Like the weather and food, Spanish soccer can be a common topic for conversations (for those who like it, of course!). Thus, if you ever go to Spain, you will usually hear people talking about it. That is why we have put together the most common Spanish soccer game vocabulary used in Spain. It will help you understand everyday conversation topics.

Check out the nouns, verbs, and expressions related to the Spain soccer game.

Nouns

SpanishEnglish
El/la aficionado/a
El/la hincha
El/la seguidor/a
Fan
El árbitro
Referee
El balón
La pelota
Ball
El banquillo
Bench
El campo de fútbol
Soccer field
El/la capitán/a
Capitan
El centro
Cross pass
El/la centrocampista

Midfielder
El córner
Corner
La copa
Cup
La Copa del Mundial
La Copa del Mundo
El Mundial (de fútbol)
The world Cup
El/la defensa
Defender
El/la delantero/a
Forward
La defensa

Defense
La delantera
Forwards
El encuentro
Game (in the USA)
La entrada
Tackle
El/la entrenador/a
Coach
El estadio
Stadium
El/la extremo
Winger
La falta
Foul
El fuera de juego
Offside
El gol
Goal
El golazo
Great goal
El/la jugador/a
Player
La liga
League
La Liga de Campeones

Champions League
El partido
Game (in the USA)
El partido amistoso
Friendly match
El pase
Pass
El penalti
Penalty kick
La portería
Goal (posts and net)
El/la portero/a
Goalie
El saque de esquina
Corner kick
La tanda de penaltis
Penalty shoot-out
La tarjeta amarilla
Yellow card
La tarjeta roja
Red card
El tiempo extra
Overtime
La victoria
Victory

Verbs

SpanishEnglish
Atacar
To attack
Bloquear
To block
Centrar
To center
Chutar

To shoot
Contraatacar
To counterattack
Defender
To defend
Derrotar
To defeat
Empatar
To tie
Expulsar
To eject
To throw out
Ganar
To win or to beat
Hacer falta
To foul
Interceptar
To block
Jugar
To play
Marcar
Anotar
To score
Pasar
To pass
Pitar
To whistle
Regatear
To dribble past
Vencer
To defeat

Expressions

SpanishEnglish
¡A por ellos, oé!
Let’s beat them!
Creo que ganarán
I think they will win
Deberían ganar
They should win
Deberían haber ganado
They should have won
Espero que ganen
I hope they win
No creo que ganen
I don't think they will win
¡Qué golazo!
¡Qué pedazo de gol!
What a (great) goal!
¡Qué parada!
What a save!
¡Qué pase!
What a pass!
¡Roja y a la calle!
Literal translation: Red (meaning red card) and to the street!
Translation: To be ejected
¡Yo soy español, español, español!
I’m Spanish, Spanish, Spanish!
¡Vamos a ganar!
We are going to win!


Final thoughts

If you want to experience an important part of Spanish culture, you need to go to a game, even if you don’t like soccer. Surround yourself and be in the environment at least one time and of course, use the vocabulary that we compiled.

Any kind of cultural activity will help you improve and understand the language better. The more you practice it in the native environment, the better your Spanish will be. But also let’s not forget – a good understanding of the culture will make the language-learning process easier for you.

Master soccer-related vocabulary even more and converse like a native Spaniard! Discover additional phrases in our Common Conversation Starters Audio & eBook to enhance your skills further.

Now, tell us this:

  • Have you ever watched a Spanish soccer game?
  • What is your favorite cheer?
  • And your favorite Spanish team?

17 Tips to Becoming Conversationally Fluent in Spanish

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