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Who is Your Euro 2012 Dream Team of ESPN Commentators and Pundits?


I’ll always remember World Cup 2010 for many different reasons. The goal that wasn’t a goal by Frank Lampard against Germany, the incredible feeling when Landon Donovan scored against Algeria, and Spain’s impressive performances throughout the tournament, to name just a few. But one of the lasting memories for me will be ESPN’s almost perfect broadcast of the entire tournament. The coverage was the best we’ve ever seen in the United States. And it may rank as the best ever coverage of a soccer tournament in the history of broadcasting.

In 100 days from tomorrow, ESPN will be back for a summer tournament when Euro 2012 kicks off from Poland and Ukraine. Whether the coverage of Euro 2012 will come anywhere close to World Cup 2010, we’ll have to wait and see. But what we do know is that beginning Friday, June 8 through Sunday, July 1, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will combine to present more than 200 hours of live coverage of the UEFA EURO 2012, the most comprehensive presentation of the quadrennial European championship in the United States.

We also know that former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack will be one of the studio pundits alongside Alexi Lalas and Steve McManaman. More pundits and commentators are expected to be announced in May.

But who is your Euro 2012 ESPN dream team of commentators and pundits? Who would you like to see providing analysis in the studio, and who would you like to hear behind the mic as commentators and color commentators? Share your dream team below.

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  1. Charles

    June 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    My dream team is any team that doesn’t include Michael Ballack. He’s a complete snore. Even the hyperactive Lalas looks like he’s about ready to take a nap waiting for Ballack to formulate some bland pronouncement.

    Could Ballack be fluent in a third language? Could it be that mentally he’s translating from the German, to Spanish (Italian? Dutch?) and then to English?

    Hoping he’s quickly replaced my Martinez or someone else on stage.

  2. AJ

    March 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    I do not want to see or hear from Mr. Marcotti, he knows absolutely nothing about football and looks to belittle everyone else before he is exposed.
    I must think Rae will be on since so many people love him in the States. Not to be mushy or anything but Rae is the voice of soccer for me because when I watched the CL after school at my grandparents.

    My dream teams:
    Champion/O’Reilly (I can’t spell him name)

    Studio Team 1:
    Ley, Lalas, Macca with special daily guests
    Lowe, Ballack, Mustoe with special daily guests

    I think the studio teams will alternate each day.

  3. TexasDevil

    March 1, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Gabriel the freelancer Marcotti, Adrian Durham (his constant cynicism is great) and the guy who calls the Napoli games or just the Cavani song set on loop.

  4. Perry

    March 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Darke, Champion, Tyler, Parry are all fine, as is Steve Banyard. The only American commentator I can stand (and I’m American) is Phil Schoen, I think he does an amazing job on Gol TV, especially considering he’s never on site, he does the whole thing from a studio monitor in Miami. Alan Fountain is very good also.

  5. CH

    March 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Im a Trini whose lived in the US & England for my life so my opinion will be a little different from most. Ill say an emphatic NO to Andy Gray, Graeme Souness & Efan Ekoku. They all do the typical EPL commentator thing during international tourneys, “the epl player is the best on the team the other players are looking for him to be a hero and do everything for the team”. I was in england for the Germany game for the WC and Souness said “theres nobody on the German that could start on England and England should win easily”. I could not knowing Ozil or Mueller(especially when all you watch is the EPL). But Schweinsteiger and Lahm and Podolski are some of the best in the world and had just went to the champions league final 2 months before. I remember Linekar looking at him as if he was an idiot.


    1-Derek Rae ( The best who has ever commentated on an ESPN game, listen to his commentary for Turkey v Croatia 2008 & Chelsea v Barcelona SF.Amazing!)
    2-Martin Tyler (legend)
    3-Ian Darke (A tad overrated because he called some amazing US Football games ,but he is quality)
    4-Phil Scheon (An underrated commentator probably because he commentates on GOL TV instead of FSC)

    All of these guys have commentated for multiple leagues in the past and dont really show a bias. They are among the best in the world in my opinion.


    Robbie Earle
    Robbie Mustoe
    Tommy Smith
    Ray Hudson- (who else is gonna get you excited when poland is playing Russia & Czech)

    Studio Team

    Adrian Healey
    Shaka Hislop
    Roberto Martinez
    Michael Ballack
    Gabriel Marcotti

    • Casey G.

      March 2, 2012 at 4:50 am

      #COSIGN on the Derek Rae comment when did the Match with Andy Gray for Croatia vs Turkey at EURO 2008, that was hands down the best commentary and best match the entire tourney, i still have that match on my DVR, thats how awesome it was.

      • Casey G.

        March 2, 2012 at 4:54 am

        correction i meant the final group game between, Turkey vs Czech Republic, that was the match he did with Andy Gray, AMAZING.

  6. Dust

    March 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I can’t believe Wilkins doesn’t get more love, the pairing of him and tyler are imo the best for a long time,I agree that neville is good, he is interesting and fair that manchester accent is a bit to much for me ar’ kid.

    Efan E and Alan Smith constantly get it wrong, e.g;…at the time of incident” “he was yards offside” after replay “oh no he was on”. This happens all the time with challenges also, keep a pen and paper and just score when this happens i promise you its a ton. It is like they are watching a completely different game. add Smiths bias and obvious dislike for certain teams, not impartial at all.

    Most interesting factoid / comment from commentator team was “no current Ajax players were in the current Dutch squad”.–I was Surprised.
    Least interesting factoid / comment from commentator team was the repeated observation that “Englad were playing to slow”.–no #$% sherlock

    I have 5 mins to share/blurt out a couple of other thoughts from yesterdays game.

    Tyler had a bad day yesterday along with England. I can’t say I’m surprised about the England performance, it was a friendly played as March football in the EPL is kicking in, players were not giving it their all. I have to believe that was why they were so poor, if it wasn’t then there are much bigger issues at hand that was a weak performance with no EPL pace at all. (Actually Gerrard, Parker and Welbeck showed life from the start)

    The ref was awful yesterday, the fouls Robben, Kuyt, Van Bommel, and De Jong were getting away with were terrible, Sneijder’s little kicks at shins with the most blatant the back heel horse kick out against Scott Parker summarized a poor game with apparent ill feeling between the two teams.

    Did anyone else notice the lack of friendliness from dutch players? there was literally no sportsmanship displayed in this “Friendly”?. i know we don’t get on with the dutch but still

    Oh and individual performance wise; Smalling was just terrible, as was Mikah, Grath Barry, Leighton Baines, Sturridge and Walcott (Again). How did Sturridge miss that open goal? there is no excuse for that not at international level, friendly or not. Maybe to much time in the vicinity of Torres?

    Gotta run…

    • The Gaffer

      March 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      I think Ray Wilkins is still recuperating from his “Stay on your feet” diatribe from last season. Personally I’d like to hear more commentaries from him.

      I agree about the Dutch players being very physical. I’m surprised there weren’t more yellow cards in this game. The one thing about the Dutch is that they don’t like to lose, so it was important to stamp their authority in the friendly.

      The Gaffer

  7. The Gaffer

    March 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I think the one thing we can all agree on is that none of us can agree on commentators and co-commentators. Some people love Ray Hudson and Ian Darke. Some people hate them. Some people love Martin Tyler and Gary Neville. Some people hate them.

    It’s all subjective. We hear and like different things in commentators, co-commentators and pundits. No matter what broadcasters do, they can never always win! There will always be critics.

    The Gaffer

  8. Chicken Vindaloo

    March 1, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I wish that Ray Hudson would commentate for me while I have sexual relations with my girlfriend. I wonder if he does private events. Just one of the many things I would do if I found a giant box full of money.

  9. bob

    March 1, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Can we all agree that neville should stick to what he does best (tossing ferggies salad) and stay away from the commentary business

    • The Gaffer

      March 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Gary Neville is one of the few rising stars in the commentary and pundit business in England. He’s been fair and honest in his criticism of United, which is very surprising. I would not have expected that from him.

      The Gaffer

      • bob

        March 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm

        Maybe you’re right i just dont care for the guy he comes off as a knowitall crank. Steve mcman also has his biases but he seems like a likable guy among the younger guys i would go with him. Ballack really? has he done this before?

  10. Anthony

    February 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Tyler has to be number one commentator, although I do like Darke. Alan Parry and Jon Champion would be in my booth and I would like to see Phil Schoenn to get an opportunity (should ESPN buy GolTV?).

    Co-hort Ekuku, Earle, Alan Smith and bring in Paul Visca and Richard Whittle from Italy.

    Can’t wait for the tournament

  11. S04th

    February 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Allan Fountain.

    That is all.

  12. scrumper

    February 29, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Bob Ley!!! OMG seeing his chubby manicured face with that maniacal grin I lose the will to live. They must hang him up in the career commentators closet and drag him out when there’s no one else remotely interested. If I hear him roll out his chronically annoying “signature” line – “iiinnnntttoooo the mixuuuuuur” – to describe a cross into the box I’m going to throw myself down the stairs. He timing is like an Andy Carroll heading attempt. He thinks about it after the ball is already in the box and finishes about half an hour after it has been cleared.

    For out and out common sense and good tactical awareness Stewart Robson is head and shoulders above the rest. I also like how Gary O’Reilly sometimes questions (and annoys) the game announcer. Although his voice can come across a bit know all at times.

    Don’t believe Martin Tyler has an equal. He has a way of commentating that resembles someone casually chatting to you at a match.

  13. The Gaffer

    February 29, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Here’s my dream team:

    Studio: Roberto Martinez, Michael Ballack, Bob Ley, Seamus Malin, Bobby McMahon and Eric Wynalda.
    Commentators: Derek Rae, Martin Tyler, Ray Hudson, Toby Charles, Robbie Earle, Efan Ekoku, Gary O’Reilly, Stewart Robson, Jon Champion, Ian Darke, Steve McManaman and Phil Schoen.

    And here’s my prediction of who ESPN will pick:

    Studio: Michael Ballack, Steve McManaman, Alexi Lalas, Julie Foudy, Bob Ley, Ruud Gullit, Allen Hopkins.
    Commentators: Ian Darke, Adrian Healey, Robbie Mustoe, Shaka Hislop, Robbie Earle, Gary O’Reilly, Stewart Robson, Shep Messing, Craig Burley.

    The Gaffer

  14. Matt

    February 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Not the ginger. Anyone but the ginger. He makes me a little ashamed of being a US soccer supporter (not enough to deter me, but just enough to make me feel thoroughly embarrassed).

    I mute the halftime shows now. It has gotten to that point. The last straw was when he picked Greece to win Group B in 2010 “on the back of their Euro 04 triumph”. Honestly now…

  15. RedMD

    February 28, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Lalas is just awful.

    Might like to see Mike Hill again though.

  16. Kobashi

    February 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Here is how I would staff ESPN if I was in charge of hiring for this summer’s Euros. I’m going with four hosts and four different commentary teams but I could see ESPN using just three since there is less teams in this competition compared to the World Cup.

    Studio Hosts: Bob Ley, Josh Elliott, Chris Fowler, and Rebecca Lowe

    Studio Analysts: Alexi Lalas, Philip Neville, Pat Dolan, Roberto Martinez, Robbie Earle, Graham Hunter, Taylor Twellmen, Julie Foudy, and a retired referee or two who can do studio work and can be called on when there is a big referee decision like the role Mike Perriera plays for Fox on NFL Sunday’s.

    Play By Play Teams

    Ian Darke/Steve McManaman
    Martin Tyler/Gary Neville
    Derrick Rae/Tommy Smyth
    Jon Champion/Ray Hudson

    Roving Reporters: Max Bretos, Darrell Currie, John Sutcliffe, and Jeremy Schapp

    The ESPN Radio/Streaming Audio crew would be made up of Adrian Healey/Robbie Mustoe, Andrew Orsatti/ Shaka Heslop, and Dan Thomas/Stewart Robson.

  17. AJ

    February 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Ian Darke!

  18. Andrew Puopolo

    February 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Ian Darke, Rae, maybe Ekoku
    That’s all I need

    Ian Darke needs to do every game though

  19. el pistolero

    February 28, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Andy GRAY. One of the best moments of the last euros was Andy commentating the Turkey czech match on fathers day. “They are stunned, they are shocked….they cannot believe it.”

    • Matt

      February 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      Dear God yes please. I have severely missed his commentary. I may have to go play fifa 11 just to hear him again.

      Let’s put it this way: I have been a manchester united supporter for as long as i have known the league existed, and my second favorite goal of all time was Gerrard’s goal against Olympiakos in the dying seconds of the champions league group stage in 04-05 (nothing beats the rooney bike last year). The influence of his commentary on my perception of that goal had this much impact.

    • Casey G.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:34 am

      Andy Gray was EXCELLENT doing EURO 2008 for ESPN, but given this past few years of controversy, do you think ESPN would take gamble on him?? in-fairness most/all casual soccer fans in the states won’t know who he is and his recent history from Sky Sports (or off it), so i don’t see why it would be a problem for US Audiences. I know he has his haters, but ill certainly take him ANYDAY over Tommy Smyth or Ray Hudson. At least Gray can pay attention to what he says during a match unlike the other two.

  20. Steve

    February 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I miss the days of Derek Rae and Tommy “with a wyyyy” Smith. Derek with anybody would also be fine in my book but certainly not The Mac. To me Steve MacNaman doesn’t bring a whole lot to the party as far as color analyst . I feel like he doesn’t do enough analytical comments and most of hsi comments pertain to the football side which is understandable as player. But he needs to really work on his analysis because most average fans can color the lines and ascertain what’s going on but I want more. I need someone to tell why certain things are happening, what formations are being implored and what are the casue and effect of that. Anyway Martin Tyler is good also.

  21. CTBlues

    February 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Wouldn’t mind having Roberto Martinez as one of the pundits again. Also would be nice to have that color commentator that filled in for McManaman a couple weeks ago.

    • The Gaffer

      February 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Gary O’Reily. Here’s an interview with him from 2010:

      The Gaffer

    • BD

      March 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      I’m sure Martinez will want the job since he should FINALLY get the sack at the end of this season when Wigan drops into the Championship…….

  22. Ben

    February 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    just keep JP Dellacamera off the mike and I’ll be happy

    • CTBlues

      February 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Well he works for FOX Soccer and does the Union games, so I doubt they will get him.

    • Ben

      February 29, 2012 at 11:12 am

      Hey stop using my name lol,

      Martin Tyler is the best, legend!

  23. Casey G.

    February 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Commentators: Darke, Tyler, Champion, Rae
    Co Commentators: Ekoku, Royle, Waddle, McCoist

    i havn’t read anything on Champion commentating for ITV like he did for WC 2010 so i’m hopeful, but i’m less optimistic on McCoist given his job at Rangers, but i think he would be the best of all the co-commentators, he was excellent during ESPN’s WC 2010 Broadcasts.

    • Steve

      February 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Great picks, I would add Robbie Earle to the Commentators. Stewart Robson ? not so much. He really pissed me off over the weekend watching Arsenal v. Spurs . I have no idea why he couldn’t bring himself to say Bale dove and it wasn’t a pk. Which he could have said and qualify that by saying he could also understand why the ref made the call instead of blaming it somehow on the 2 Arsenal players trying to run with Bale. Even after all the replays he kept skirting the issue instead of making definitive statement one way or the other which the guy who did Sky’s feed had no problem stating that that was not a pk and the ref got con. I haven’t been impressed with Robson over the last couple Arsenal games he has done. Nobody is asking him to be a homer or anything just call a spade a spade .

      • Casey G.

        February 29, 2012 at 12:23 am

        Robbie Earle would defo go in there as my replacement pick for Ally McCoist, i think Robson has more of a working relationship with ESPN US (not sure about ESPN UK) so i don’t know what difference that would make, but Earle would be awesome.

      • Kautzie

        February 29, 2012 at 10:46 am

        Completely agree with the Robson comment. And what’s more amazing is that he’s actually employed by Arsenal TV also. Why the club would employ someone who takes a swipe at the club and especially the manger every chance he gets is beyond me.

        On a side note I don’t want Ian Darke anywhere near the the announce team after his 2010 world cup performance.
        The guy was incredibly sycophantic and biased towards the US. The guy’s a hack and isn’t 1/10th the commentator that Martin Tyler is.

  24. Guy

    February 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Well, if Alexi is involved I have no dream…..just a nightmare.

  25. psyer

    February 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    James Richardson and Mark Bolton are the lead host of the studio coverage, switching off each day.

    Pundits: Roberto Martinez, Graeme Souness, Michael Cox from Zonal Marking, Jurgen Klinnsmann, Gary Neville for only England Matches

    Commentators: Martin Tyler, Ian Darke, Guy Mowbray, Alan Parry, Kevin Keatings

    Co-Commentators: Stewart Robson, Alan McIannly, Davie Provan, Alan Smith

    • Gaz

      February 28, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      Good call – would love to see James Richardson do a little TV coverage.

    • Casey G.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:25 am

      Guy Mowbray will be doing commentary for BBC, so you can count him out.

      • psyer

        February 29, 2012 at 2:19 am

        I know that he will be out. But that is my ultimate dream team of active commentators/broadcasters at the moment. Graeme Souness is probably out too. Will be working w/ Al-Jazeera and RTE probably.

        Most likely ESPN will have

        Host: Bob Ley, Rebecca Lowe
        Pundits: Michael Ballack, Steve McManaman, Alexis Lalas
        Commentators: Ian Darke, Adrian Healy, Derek Rae, Jim Proudfoot
        Co-Commentators: Efan Ekoku, Robbie Mustoe, Stewart Robson

        But if they are going to have commentary offtube then
        Host: Bob Ley, Rebecca Lowe
        Pundits: Michael Ballack, Steve McManaman, Alexis Lalas, Efan Ekoku, Robbie Mustoe
        Commentators: Ian Darke, Adrian Healy, Derek Rae
        Co-Commentators: Steve McManaman, Efan Ekoku, Robbie Mustoe

        • Grant

          February 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

          That’s pretty good, but how can you not have Jon Champion? He’s my second favorite announcer behind Darke.

  26. Ohgabe

    February 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Toby Charles! Legend

  27. TrippusMaximus

    February 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Ian Darke is number one. ray Hudson would be great as well

    • Jamie

      February 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Try getting that maniac Hudson to call any games. He is a flat out Messi and Argentina fangirl who thinks everyone else is of “lesser” quality. He has already orgasmed once from a Messi penalty, a freakin penalty bro. The less I hear from that man the more I can watch games.

      • The Gaffer

        February 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

        Is Messi not the greatest soccer player to have ever played this game? Why not get excited at some of the incredible goals and dribbling runs he goes on? Ray Hudson adds an excitement level to this game that is unheralded in the English-speaking game.

        Listen to Ray commentate Europa League games on GolTV, and you’ll hear him wax poetically about other teams and players. For example, last week, when he commentated the Manchester City against Porto game, he spoke fondly of the brilliant Manchester City team from the early to mid 1970s. And had some really poignant things to say about the current crop of City players.

        He loves Messi and Argentina, and why not? They’re exciting to watch, but Ray also shares his passion for any wonderful piece of play he sees before his eyes.

        The Gaffer

        • Cantona

          February 28, 2012 at 11:51 pm

          Hudson is totally unprofessional.. his screaming biased comedy routine gets old after 2mins… the
          poor mans Sid Waddel… for some reason Americans like this crap… I hope ESPN continues with their
          great decisions in the boothe.. Darke fantastic.. Tyler would be excellent..


      • The Gaffer

        February 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm

        And Jamie, who are your picks for the dream team?

        The Gaffer

      • Paul

        February 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

        Ray Hudson is a geordie. The geordie accennt is funny to listen to and sometimes hard to understand. My father is a geordie thorough and through.

        Ray Hudson has a horrible geordie accent. He over does it. He should not be allowed on TV. I turn down the volume on GOL TV when he is commentating.

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