Topical Guides

Topical Guides are provided by the AP Stylebook editors for timely events. Here is the most recent topical guide:

2014 World Cup

4-2-3-1 formation
The typical lineup of a modern-day soccer team, with four defenders, two deep midfielders, three attacking midfielders and a lone forward. [more...]
backpass
A pass that a player makes back toward his own goal, to the goalkeeper on his team. The goalkeeper is unable to pick up the ball if the pass comes from the player's foot.
"catenaccio"
A highly defensive style of play, widely seen as originating in the 1960s and '70s and often associated with Italian teams. The system literally translates as "door-bolt" or "lock."
corner
A kick taken from the corner of the field by an attacking player. Awarded when the ball has passed over the goal line after last touching a defensive player. The shot is taken from the corner nearest to where the ball went out.
false nine
A forward player who appears to be playing as a team's main attacker but who drops back, closer to the midfield. [more...]
free kick
A kick awarded to a team if its player is fouled by an opponent anywhere on the field except for the two penalty areas near the goals. The kick can either be direct (able to shoot straight into the net) or indirect (cannot shoot into the net).
hand ball
A foul awarded when a player deliberately touches the ball with his hand or any part of his arm.
hospital pass
A pass to a player who will be heavily tackled by an opponent upon receiving it.
offside
"What is offside?" is often the test question to identify true soccer fans. [more...]
one-two
When a player passes the ball to a teammate, who then returns it to the same player with his first touch. A move usually done on the run, making it hard to defend against.
"Panenka"
A nonchalant type of penalty kick that sees an attacker deftly chip the ball toward the middle of the goal, fooling a goalkeeper who has dived to one side or the other. [more...]
parking the bus
A phrase used increasingly by coaches in the English Premier League, and some elsewhere, to describe how a team packs its defense to protect a lead or a draw. Can often involve using all 10 outfield players as defenders.
penalty
A refereeing decision awarded if a player from the defensive team fouls a player from the attacking team inside the penalty area. The attacking team chooses a player to have a free shot at goal from the penalty spot, 12 yards from the goal line.
red card
Issued to a player who commits a serious foul or who has been issued with two yellow cards in the same game. The player must leave the field and cannot be replaced.
simulation
A formal term for when a player dives to the ground or attempts to deceive the referee into awarding a penalty. This offense can result in a yellow card.
the quarterback role
The name given to the player who plays as a deep-lying midfielder and starts attacks by spraying passes, short and long, to teammates. [more...]
throw-in
When a player restarts play by throwing the ball back onto the pitch from its perimeter. The player must keep both feet on the ground and have both hands behind his head as he throws the ball.
"tiki-taka"
A system of intricate, one-touch and rapid passing artistry developed by Spanish club Barcelona and eventually adopted by Spain's national team.
total football
The label given to a tactical theory, pioneered in international soccer by the Netherlands in the 1974 World Cup, in which any outfield player can take over the role of any of his teammates. [more...]
wall
A line of defensive players that protects the team's goalkeeper at a free kick.
zonal marking
A system of defending at corners where players from the defensive team mark areas rather than opposition players. An alternative to man-to-man marking.
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