The woeful performances by both Schalke and Wolves Tuesday night were so poor that Manchester United and Stoke City steamrolled past both teams respectively with relative ease. Schalke now faces an exit from the Champions League while Wolverhampton Wanderers have one foot in the grave with relegation beckoning unless they can create some miracles in the last few matches of the season. And even then it may not be enough.
Looking back at Tuesday, the most interesting aspect of the Schalke versus Manchester United match wasn’t the game itself but it was the production of the broadcast by Fox Soccer Channel for viewers in the United States. Hosted by Curt Menefee, he seems to be warming up to covering the Champions League and appearing more confident talking about soccer. He was joined by Eric Wynalda, Christopher Sullivan and Warren Barton, the trio that we’ve been used to seeing for most Champions League matches during the season.
The biggest difference Tuesday though was the set that the four on-air talent were sitting in. The new studio set was far more professional looking and had much more depth than the cramped Fox Soccer Channel one. Situated in the Fox Network Center in Los Angeles, the new set definitely improved the look-and-feel of the broadcast to produce a much more polished pre-match, half-time and post-match program. On top of that, the actual commentary in the game itself was far better than in the last round when we were subjected to Ray Wilkins’s embarrassing performance. This time we had Graeme Souness who was far more accomplished than Wilkins and fit in perfectly next to Martin Tyler.
Moving on to today, FX will be broadcasting the first Champions League match in their history. The network, which is available in 99 million US homes, will broadcast the game between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And then next week, FX will show the second leg between Manchester United and Schalke, while the second leg of Barcelona versus Real Madrid will air on Fox Soccer Channel. The final, just like last year, will be broadcast on FOX, the main TV network.
What were your impressions of the new studio set and the coverage and analysis that Menefee, Barton, Sullivan and Wynalda gave yesterday? Share your feedback in the comments section below.