What is a Friendly Match in Soccer?

Oftentimes you will find that soccer teams are engaged in a friendly match. Despite being a common occurrence many people do not fully understand what a friendly match is. So we are here to tell you what exactly a friendly match is and why are they played. A friendly or exhibition game is played between two teams in a non-competitive match that is not part of any soccer competition. As a result, the match does not affect the teams’ position or standings in a league or tournament. Friendlies affect a national team’s international standing and FIFA world rankings. A score of 05 or 10 is given depending on the importance of a match, which is then the FIFA algorithm to establish a team ranking. These stand-alone games are not competitive, hence, the name friendlies. They usually take place before the season starts to prepare them for the season. This is because, after months of playing a couple of times a week, the players get fatigued and need rest.

Why are Friendly Matches Played?

What is a Friendly Match in Soccer?

There is a purpose for friendly matches in soccer, which is why there is a reason why they are played. One of the most common reasons is to increase the players’ fitness levels. This is done right before the season begins.

During the off-season, players take a break that can last for weeks and extend to months. Although some try to stick to the strict diet and fitness routine during that period, many players are not as successful. As a result, they end up gaining a few extra pounds. Even if they are back in shape while training they need to be at their peak shape to play professional soccer.

And this can only be achieved while taking part in a real game. It helps them improve their fitness levels in-game, and prepares them for the upcoming season. Squads have over 22 players and with 11 players on each side, it gives all the players an opportunity to take part in the match, and for youth players to play against the experienced ones. 

Friendly matches are also played for the new season. Players who have not played competitive matches for months use this as an opportunity to get back on their form. It allows the players to get used to playing together with their team again and to boost their confidence.

After training and working on their fitness for a bit, a friendly match will be held against a lower opposition, to gradually ease themselves back. This will continue for 4 to 8 matches, before moving on to a team of a similar level. What this does is provides time for the players to play alongside each other to improve their performance as a team. 

Because of its non-competitive style, friendly matches are utilized to try out new tactics and test new players, which would have otherwise been difficult to do. This opportunity is used to compare themselves to their competitors.

As there is no competition involved, teams have an opportunity to try out new tactics. This allows them to try new things to figure out which is suitable for their team or what has to be discarded such as a new formation, or a different position. Similarly, new players are given an opportunity to play in friendly matches.

This is an instance where how well the new players adapt to the team and players around them are tested. If a player shows potential, chances are they will be considered to play during a real match. This is simply a good time to try out various things without the fear of any consequences. 

To mark an occasion such as the anniversary of an important event or to celebrate the end of a player’s career, a friendly match is organized. This is when all the players come together to honor the occasion or thank the player for their loyalty with a proper send-off.

A game that is organized for when a player is leaving is known as a testimonial match where the financial earning from that game is given to that player as a retirement present. This is just a sweet sentiment for special instances where players do what they know best, play soccer.

This also gives both the club and fans something to remember. Speaking of fans, oftentimes clubs will combine the need for a trip to a different country and visit international fans and take part in something called a mini-tournament. This is a friendly match, which acts as a great opportunity to promote the club to the international market and play with the top teams. 

Yet another fairly common reason why a friendly match is played is to raise money. As previously mentioned, testimonial matches can be an example. But money is also raised by these friendly matches for charity. All the money raised from the tickets sold and additional donations are given to those in need. Given that literally, thousands of spectators come to view these friendly matches, the money raised is substantial, to say the least.

Another instance is Soccer Aid, which is a British charity event for UNICEF donations. At first soccer aid would take every two years, but has been changed to annually from 2018. The donation given to UNICEF goes towards providing children with vaccines, clean water, any sort of protection they may need against violence and abuse. This is just a good way to give back to the world out of one’s goodwill.

Final remarks

A friendly match in soccer is a fun, and effective way to improve players’ fitness, help them try out new tactics, helps the players gel and adapt to playing as a team, and raise money for special occasions. There are no consequences involved which allows eases the tension and lets players enjoy the game.

You can also read: How Long is a Soccer Game?

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