So much focus is put on the Champions League Final and what happened during the game that it’s often easy to overlook the admirable job that ESPN2 did behind the scenes yesterday.
Their production was excellent and what I was most impressed by is that they continued the coverage all the way through until after Man United lifted the trophy. They could have easily cut away and gone to regular programming, but they kept the coverage going. This is definitely a positive sign that soccer carries more weight at ESPN. And it’s also a reassuring sign that the network will provide an exemplary experience this summer for ESPN’s coverage of Euro 2008.
Clarence Seedorf alongside Tommy Smyth and Derek Rae was a smart choice. Smyth was at his worst throughout the match saying inane things when it would have been better to think before he spoke. Rae was the rock that we’ve grown to love and trust. How he wasn’t involved in commentating ESPN’s coverage of World Cup 2006 I don’t know. Seedorf added a lot of great insight from a player’s perspective. It was a shame that he wasn’t there for the full match though.
I usually have a disdain for touchline reporters, but I thought ESPN’s Dave Roberts did a superb job at pitchside. His thoughts and observations were valuable. One perfect example was when he provided insight about the large divots in front of Van der Sar’s goal that were causing the goalkeeper some worries.
Kudos to ESPN for wonderful coverage.