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What is the separates a "friendly match" from any other soccer match?

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If you've heard the term exhibition game, that's generally a synonym for a friendly. –  Nicholas V. May 12 at 19:46
    
Are these played at the beginning of the season or at various times? –  Dave Glass May 12 at 20:39
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4 Answers 4

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Usually what is call a friendly match is a game outside a tournament.

Like in many other sports, this kind of game is usually used as a test for both team.

Usually in this kind of game, although all the rule book is used, sometimes there are a relax in some rules, like quantity of substitutes, and many times both team plays in a relaxed way, and the refeere usually don´t show as many yellow and red cards.

Some games, like the ones that are the last one for a player, includes several more relaxed rules, like the player playing for both team, or an unlimited number of replacement players.

The last one are usually not call friendly match, are better know as tribute match.

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Oh there's no difference, it's just the evolution of confused people about the beautiful game. Follow the KISS principle kids!

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What you're calling regular games are actually tournament or league games. Club soccer teams compete in leagues/tournament (like British Premier League, FA Cup, LaLiga and Champion's League), and national teams compete in tournament such as the world cup, UEFA Euro, or the preliminaries to advance to such competitions.

The games that the teams play to get ready for such games are called friendlies. They are meant to prepare teams for important games described above usually immediately before major competitions.

Otherwise, almost all rules apply to both types of matches. Few differences exist however. In major cups/leagues you're only allowed to have 3 substitutions, but the limit is higher for friendlies (there used to be no limit), and some other differences in regulation when it comes to having advertisement on the jerseys(at least until a couple of years ago).

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A "friendly" (or exhibition game) is basically the term for all games that are not competitive fixtures.

Friendlies are most common in pre-season, as sort of a training to find "the form" and raise the tempo. Also, they're often used by coaches to experiment with tactics and try out new players.

In some leagues, where there's a mid-season break, friendlies are used by most teams to get in shape for the second half of the season. They may also be played at the end of the season, if a team has a couple of weeks off before a tournament or such.

International friendlies are also played. For national teams, these are perhaps even more important than for the clubs, as they don't play the same number of matches together over the course of a season.

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