"play (someone)" instead of "play with (someone)" or "play against (someone)" in sports

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  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, you can use "play" transitively like that, with the name of your opponent or the opposing team as the object of the verb. :)
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In BrE at least, "play someone" is not confined to tennis or to individual opponents. It can be used for football (soccer), for example: "Manchester United play Derby County next week". I'm not sure that AmE uses just "play" for teams.
     
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