On the line

Something is "on the line" if it is at risk or can be lost

Today's story: Croatia vs Russia
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On the line

Today’s English expression is “on the line.” When something is “on the line” it means something is at risk, something can be lost. If you have a lot on the line, you care about it. You might lose something. So here’s how you heard it before:

Belgium has a lot on the line at this World Cup because its golden generation of players is at its peak and will likely be too old to compete at the 2022 World Cup. For this reason, Belgium feels the pressure to win this year; if they don’t win this year, it might be a long time before they can be competitive at the World Cup again. They have a lot on the line; they have a lot to lose. France, by contrast, has less on the line since their players tend to be younger and their team will likely enter its prime just as the next World Cup comes around.

Lots of people around the world have some money on the line as they watch these games. That means they’ve placed bets. They are betting that one team will win; if their team doesn’t win, they’ll lose the money they’ve bet. In that sense, those people who have bet on the games have something on the line—namely, a little bit of money. I, by contrast, have nothing on the line. Not only do I not have a favorite team in soccer, but I have also not bet anything since I don’t bet on sports. So I have absolutely nothing on the line.

The head coach of England’s soccer team had a lot on the line going into this year’s World Cup. England had not met its fans’ expectations in recent international tournaments. Coach Gareth Southgate was heavily criticized after the final group game against Belgium because he made eight changes—a high number of changes. They lost—and the coach was heavily criticized. He had a lot on the line, because if they lost in the knockout round, he would be blamed for over-coaching the team. But it turns out that loss to Belgium didn’t hurt England at all, and the team went on to win its knockout games so far. Gareth Southgate had a lot on the line in the knockout round, and now his team is one win away from the World Cup finals.


Thanks for joining us for today’s special World Cup episode. Two regular episodes are coming up this Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday’s episode is going to be about the women in Saudi Arabia. They were finally able to get driver’s licenses and they’re enjoying their new driving privileges. And then on Friday—you won’t want to miss Friday’s episode. Have you been following the story about the soccer team trapped in the cave system in Thailand? That is going to be the episode on Friday. I wrote most of it, but the news is changing day to day, so I’ll update it later in the week so you have the most current information when the episode comes out Friday morning. It’s an incredible story—I’m refreshing my phone every few hours to see the latest news. I know you’ll like hearing about that story on Friday.

Okay that’s it for today—thanks for joining us and don’t forget, semifinal matches on Tuesday and Wednesday; finals on Sunday.

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Story: Croatia vs Russia