Is there any difference between "to open" and "to open up" in the two following sentences, besides the emphasis expressed by "up" (reference: What is the difference between "open" and "open up")?

  • A goal at the beginning would open the game/match.
  • A goal at the beginning would open up the game/match.

The intended meaning is that, in a soccer game, if someone scores a goal early, then the opposing team is more likely to attack than defend in order to score an equalising goal. Thus, there is more space on the field, there could be more opportunities of scoring additional goals and the game becomes more interesting.

1 Answer 1


Of the two, "open up" implies the meaning you intend, although I couldn't comment as to whether it is particularly idiomatic in connection with "a game" (eg a football match).

The difference with "open" and "open up" is that the former normally means to begin and the latter can mean "to create new opportunities". In this sporting context, "opened up" could mean that the game has become more exciting or interesting, perhaps because of something that has happened that means there are unknown "possibilities" and the game could go in any direction, eg:

Once the team had scored a goal, the game really opened up.

"Open", meaning to begin, does not seem correct in your examples because a game does not "begin" with a goal - it begins at "kick-off", or when a referee declares that it has begun. Some games pass with no goals at all.

That said "the opening" of a game can idiomatically refer to the start, or the early minutes of a game, for example:

The player scored within the opening minutes of the game.

  • AFAIK "a match begins with sth" and "something happens at the beginning of a match" do not necessarily mean the same; the latter can mean that something happens in the first minutes of the match. That's what I meant. Sep 27, 2019 at 11:15
  • @AlanEvangelista I've updated my answer, I feel it more directly answers your question now. I rambled a bit about other meanings of the two phrases and I think my point got a bit lost.
    – Astralbee
    Sep 27, 2019 at 11:18

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