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ESPN Announces First Five Analysts For Its World Cup 2014 Coverage

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.”

Read: ESPN’s coverage plans for World Cup 2014.

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.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Jon Howerton

    May 25, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Lalas is worse than useless. He played in a few world cups because he was big and strong and athletic. His skill and ability to read the game as a player is only equaled by his abilities as an analyst: terrible. I do not want to listen to his lack of insight during this World Cup.

  2. He's Livid

    December 4, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Solid choices. I have no problem with Twellman and Lalas. Lalas assertion after England was crushed by Germany in 2010 that “They are not good enough” was spot on and all that needed to be said. As for Ballack, hopefully he has improved since the last time I saw him because he was a tad boring and understated.

  3. Rick

    December 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Is John Motson still announcing games?

  4. scrumper

    December 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I can still remember Bob Ley hilariously pronouncing Michael Ballack as “bollock”

  5. Smokey Bacon

    December 3, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Espn playing it safe. Hard to dis them after the superb job last time out. We need to make the most of it as the next two will be run by the amateurs over at Fox.

    • Len F

      December 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Agreed… they did a great job in 2010 and expect a similar effort in 2014. I do hope they leverage their ESPN FC talent (Burley, Moreno, Nicholls, etc…).

      I saw Solari during ESPN FC’s preview of El Classico about six weeks back and he came across very sharp and a bit understated (much like Martinez). It was a small sample but he could compliment some of their “louder” talent.

  6. krazymunky

    December 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I would love Gary Neville to be an analysts for American audiences!

    • Christopher Harris

      December 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Me too, but Gary’s going to be in Brazil as the assistant coach sitting next to Roy Hodgson!

      • Mufc77

        December 4, 2013 at 7:30 am

        He will be available after the group stage is over.

        • Guy

          December 4, 2013 at 10:30 am

          You are on a bit of a roll. 😉

  7. David

    December 3, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Let the Eurosnobbery commence.

    This is an American network that will be covering the tournament so of course Americans will be present. Who would you prefer, exactly?

    • Flyvanescence

      December 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Not twellman. Not Lalas. Almost anyone else. Got it?

      • David

        December 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm

        And I thought someone couldn’t be any less insightful than those two…

      • David

        December 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm

        For what it’s worth, I’m not saying that I love Twellman and Lalas, but if you’re going to complain about their choices it would seem reasonable to ask for some realistic alternatives. It’s easy to shoot something down and be smart about it, but to provide nothing to the contrary is just lame.

    • James

      December 3, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Being critical of poor analysts is not Euro-snobbery. What soccer fans expect are well-informed and knowledgeable people.

      When I watch the Tour de France I enjoy it because the commentators are well-informed and know how to explain it to the American audience, and they are not American. So just because the coverage is for an American market does not mandate that an American presence is required.

      The best way to promote a sport is to have knowledgeable people explain it. To think that people want an American presence or they won’t watch is being disrespectful of the intelligence of the American people. They want the best not tokenism.

      • David

        December 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

        That’s you, James. One could easily argue Lalas and Twellman do a great job of explaining the sport. Maybe not in the way you care, or me much for that matter, but keep in mind a lot of Lalas’ shtick is preconceived.

        He’s there to be the alternative view guy. Everyone at the round table says one thing, he says another. Same with non-Americans like Tommy Smyth. You may not like him either, but both of these guys are there for a reason.

        I’m just amazed we’re even having these conversations as if Lalas and Twellman wouldn’t be there, amongst the others. It’s obvious since they’re regularly employed by ESPN.

        Either way, this is a losing battle because people just expect them to fill the broadcast booth and roundtable with Martin Tyler’s and Neville’s.

      • He's Livid

        December 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

        Lalas and Twellman are well respected and liked in the world soccer pantheon. Saying thay don’t have knowledge shows ignorance on your part. Lalas style may not be to your liking, but he played the game globally and knows what he’s talking about.

    • tim

      December 4, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Could not agree more! Lalas and Twellman are fine. Most the Eurosnobs dont agree with them so they dont like them…Shocker!

  8. Scrumper

    December 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Twellman is an idiot and Lalas needs to grow his hair and beard again and disappear in a Captain Morgan rum ad.

    Pretty disappointing line up from ESPN so far.

  9. BD

    December 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I hope to see Ballack punch Lalas dead in his face after he disagrees him for the umpteenth time. The Twellman matches I will watch on mute…

    • RJ

      December 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Seriously. Twellman is awful. His tone is so negative. He always sounds like he’s in an argument.

  10. Cantona

    December 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Where’s Craig Burley??? Will he do commentating?

    Are the commentators set? Hopefully we will hear the soothing tones of one Martin Tyler!

    Cantona—

  11. krazymunky

    December 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    No Martinez ? 🙁

    • Christopher Harris

      December 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      More announcements will made in the coming weeks.

    • Patrick

      December 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Martinez was actually my favorite analyst and thought he proped up that group quite a bit. I really hope he makes the cut to be Alexi’s stupidity counterweight. Ballack wont say anything he just gives Alexi stupid looks when he says dumb things.

    • EPLNFL

      December 4, 2013 at 3:56 am

      He was a surprise solid voice from 2014.

  12. Frank

    December 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Ballack is too borng o liten to, Lalas and Twellman are absolutely useless anIdnt know anythig about Solari. Not a good start by ESPN in my opinion.

    • sucka99

      December 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Ballack has apparently been getting better working in the UK but he still might not be ESPN-style material like Lalas.

      No surprises there but also no bold moves IMO. Not familiar with Solari (even from ESPN FC) so maybe he becomes the breakout content star like Roberto Martinez was in 2010

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