How to pronounce the players' names correctly

With the UEFA Champions League round of 16 fast approaching, explains how to say those tricky names correctly.
ARSENALLondon is around 150km from Calais, but the linguistic distances between English and French are huge when it comes to pronunciations, a situation which has led to generations of French Arsenal players having their names mangled on the terraces.
Héctor Bellerín – Hector Bay-air-eenPetr Čech – Pet-r ChekhFrancis Coquelin – Francis Cock-er-lanMathieu Debuchy – Mat-yur De-boo-sheOlivier Giroud – Olivier Gee-rooLaurent Koscielny – Lo-ron Ko-sea-el-niMesut Özil – Mesut Er-zilGranit Xhaka – Granit Chaka

An-twan Gree-ez-man©AFP/Getty Images
ATLÉTICO MADRIDBasic rules: a ‘ć’ in the former Yugoslavian languages is a ‘ch’ and the ‘š’ is a ‘sh’. Antoine Griezmann’s surname has an extra syllable in it which most English speakers tend to miss.
Nicolás Gaitán – Guy-tanAntoine Griezmann – An-twan Gree-ez-manKoke – Ko-kaySaúl Ñíguez – Sow-ool Nyee-gessStefan Savić – Sa-vichNicolás Schiappacasse – Ski-appa-cass-eyŠime Vrsaljko – Shee-may Ver-sal-ko
BARCELONABarcelona’s universal popularity has ironed out most pronunciation errors, but Lucas Digne is a tricky one and don’t forget that Ivan Rakitić’s ‘ć’ is a ‘ch’ for English speakers.
Lucas Digne – Loo-cah Dee-nyuhIvan Rakitić – Ra-key-titch

Man-well Noy-er©Getty Images
BAYERN MÜNCHENManuel Neuer’s surname can be a problem for English-speakers, who tend to panic when they see more than two vowels in a row. For Robert Lewandowski, remember that the Polish ‘w’ is more like an English ‘v’.
Joshua Kimmich – Kim-ikhRobert Lewandowski – Le-van-dov-skiManuel Neuer – Man-well Noy-er
BENFICAThe widespread assumption for English speakers that Portuguese is a bit like Spanish is one that should be challenged – the two languages sound very different. However, it is Benfica’s foreign signings that may prove the easiest to mispronounce.

Woo-cash Peace-check©AFP/Getty Images
Franco Cervi – Chair-veeLjubomir Fejsa – Fay-saGonçalo Guedes – Gair-dissVictor Lindelöf – Linda-love
BORUSSIA DORTMUNDGerman and English have plenty in common – and reassuringly, Marco Reus’s surname is very similar in pronunciation to the English surname ‘Royce’. Łukasz Piszczek’s name can also be rendered much less scary to English speakers by a phonetic translation, while pronouncing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s name the French way saves you a syllable – no small achievement in austere times. American-born Christian Pulišić does not pronounce his name the Croatian way.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Oh-bam-yongAlexander Isak – Ee-sackŁukasz Piszczek – Woo-cash Peesh-checkChristian Pulišić – Police-sickMarco Reus – RoyceNuri Şahin – Noo-ree Shah-hinRoman Weidenfeller – Vye-den-feller
JUVENTUSThe Italian ‘ch’ is more like a ‘k’ for English speakers, whereas the Croatian ‘ć’ is an English ‘ch’. Gonzalo Higuaín’s name has three vowels in a row – a red light for English speakers – but can be anglicised elegantly enough. Croatia is just across the Adriatic from Italy, so imagine Marco Pjaca’s name as an Italian ‘piazza’ and you will be pretty much there.
Gianluigi Buffon – Boo-fonGiorgio Chiellini – Kee-ell-ee-neeGonzalo Higuaín – Ee-gway-eenMario Mandžukić – Man-joo-kitchClaudio Marchisio – Mar-kee-sioMarko Pjaca – Pee-at-zaMiralem Pjanić – Pee-ah-nitch

Lay-oh-nar-doe Oo-show-ah©AFP/Getty Images
LEICESTER CITYEnglish fans have spent decades being proud of making the effort with Peter and then Kasper Schmeichel’s surname, but it seems we all got it wrong – they are not Shmai-kels but Smai-kels. Leonardo Ulloa’s name has lots of vowels and sounds nothing like it would naturally in English.
Robert Huth – HootBartosz Kapustka – Bar-toshKasper Schmeichel – Smai-kelLeonardo Ulloa – Lay-oh-nar-doe Oo-show-ah
BAYER LEVERKUSENLike its German counterpart, an umlauted Turkish ‘ö’ softens the vowel down to something like an English ‘er’. Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s surname is difficult, especially that ‘ğ’ – which is a softer version of a combative Scottish ‘och’. Take a deep breath and do not panic, and you can do it.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu – Chall-han-och-looAleksandar Dragović – Drago-vitchTin Jedvaj – Yed-vyeRamazan Özcan – Erz-janJoel Pohjanpalo – Po-hyan-palloÖmer Toprak – Er-mar Top-rukh

Ilk-eye Gun-doch-wan©AFP/Getty Images
MANCHESTER CITYMost English-language commentators have worked out that Spanish speakers pronounce the name Jesús very differently to English ones. İlkay Gündoğan’s many accents can alarm, but imagine that ‘ğ’ as a very soft Scottish-style ‘och’ and you will get there.
Willy Caballero – Caba-yair-oİlkay Gündoğan – Ilk-eye Gun-doch-wanJesús Navas – Hess-oosBacary Sagna – Sa-nyah
MONACOThe Croatian ‘š’ and ‘č’ are effectively an English ‘sh’ and ‘ch’, Tiémoué Bakayoko’s name has a lot of vowels, and it transpires we have all been pronouncing João Moutinho’s name wrong for years.
Tiémoué Bakayoko – Tee-ay-moo-ayJoão Moutinho – Joo-ow Mow-cheen-ooDanijel Subašić – Sooba-shitch

El-say-eed Hoo-sigh©AFP/Getty Images
NAPOLIElseid Hysaj packs a lot of syllables into his 11-character name, while Vlad Chiricheş’s surname is full of ‘false friends’ for English speakers – the Romanian ‘ch’ is not the same as an English one. Marek Hamšík, meanwhile, is not sick of ham, as English speakers might hope.
Vlad Chiricheş – Kiri-keshEmanuele Giaccherini – Ja-care-ee-neeMarek Hamšík – Ham-sheekElseid Hysaj – El-say-eed Hoo-sighLorenzo and Roberto Insigne – In-scene-yerNikola Maksimović – Mak-sim-ov-itchIvan Strinić – Stree-nitchPiotr Zieliński – Zhee-el-een-ski
PARIS SAINT-GERMAINThe French language’s many vowels continue to frighten English speakers, with Polish names in the Paris squad intensifying that sense of Anglo-Saxon dread. Take heart: it is easier than it looks.
Serge Aurier – Or-ee-ayGrzegorz Krychowiak – G-sheg-orsh Kri-ko-vyak Layvin Kurzawa – Kur-zha-vaThomas Meunier – Mer-nee-air

Ee-care Ca-see-yass©AFP/Getty Images
PORTOYears of effort have almost eradicated the English tendency to pronounce Iker Casillas’s first name as if he worked as an optician (eye care).
Iker Casillas – Ee-care Ca-see-yassJesús Corona – Hess-oosLaurent Depoitre – Lo-ron Der-pwat-r
REAL MADRIDPepe does not use that second vowel if you pronounce his name in Portuguese, while the ‘oo’ in Toni Kroos’s surname does not sound like English speakers would like it to. The Colombian pronounciation of the common English first name ‘James’ is also markedly different.
Dani Carvajal – Car-va-halMateo Kovačić – Ko-va-chitchToni Kroos – CrowsLuka Modrić – Mod-richPepe – PepJames Rodríguez – Ha-mess
SEVILLA Benoît Trémoulinas’s name takes a bit of unpacking, and Daniel Carriço’s sounds a good deal softer in his native Portuguese than you would expect. English speakers meanwhile will be relieved that Thimothée Kolodziejczak was loaned out to Mönchengladbach during the winter break.
Daniel Carriço – Car-hiss-ohStevan Jovetić – Yo-veh-titchBenoît Trémoulinas – Ben-wah Tray-moo-lee-nass

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