ESPN has announced the first five analysts for its coverage of the 2014 World Cup. ESPN has selected Michael Ballack, Steve McManaman, Alexi Lalas, Taylor Twellman and Santiago Solari.
Ballack, Lalas, McManaman and Solari will appear on pre-match, halftime and post-match shows, SportsCenter, ESPN FC and FIFA World Cup-themed news and information programs. Twellman will primarily serve as a co-commentator, while McManaman will co-commentate on select matches.
“The quality and diversity of our analyst team was one of the keys to our 2010 World Cup success,” said Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer. “Michael, Alexi, Macca, Santiago, Taylor and others to come, will form what we expect to be one of the best collections of football minds available anywhere for this global sporting event.”
Soccer fans will be familiar with all of the pundits. The only one that some hardcore soccer fans may not be familiar with is Santiago Solari, who is one of the pundits on ESPN FC. He’s a former Real Madrid winger and Argentina national team player.
Specific assignments are to be determined, and other ESPN commentators for the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be announced at a later date.
The selections made today by ESPN make sense. The on-air arguments between Ballack and Lalas, particularly during Euro 2012, were enjoyable to watch. Twellman is a passionate co-commentator who calls it like he sees it, and offers a more direct approach in regards to sharing a former player’s perspective, which is always refreshing to hear. The news that McManaman will be back on US TV screens is encouraging, while Solari will be able to shine his expertise on the South American teams especially.
What’s your opinion about the appointments that ESPN has made thus far? Share your opinions in the comments section below.