1

The build-up to this game was played out in the context of who would top the group.

Source: BBC World Cup News

What the phrasal verb play out here mean? I have referred to dictionaries, but I can't find a matched or suitable meaning in this sentence. Most of explanation of this phrasal verb is playing something to the very end or finishing something.

3

'Played out' refers to the manner in which a particular situation develops and comes to a conclusion. In this case it suggests that there was significant interest as to who the winner would be, but no-one emerged as a clear winner until the game was nearly finished.

  • Thank you for your help. What is the meaning here of in the context?@James – Young Jun 30 '18 at 8:17
  • I just noticed that the source of the quote is BBC World Cup News. This provides additional information that helps us to divine the meaning of the sentence. It would have helped to know which Group and which game the sentence refers to. For simplicity, I will assume you have some understanding of the Group Stage of the World Cup. So the sentence is effectively saying that the result of this match would determine which team in the group of four would take the top position in that group. Overall, their was more interest in the resultant group outcome than the actual match outcome. – James Jun 30 '18 at 9:31
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You have to split up the sentence to get a clear picture of what it would like to convey.

[the build-up to this game] - the description of this game

[was played out in the context] - was made manifest in the context

[of who would top the group] - of who would be the first in the group

I think it gives you the meaning of that sentence.

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