ESPN: Not Good Coverage

Damn their pregame is just as bad as their post game. Thankfully Julie Foudy and Eric Wynalda are no longer with us as in studio guests. Although Alexi Lalas is not much better. But it’s the host for those shows who don’t know a damn thing about the sport, yet their try to sound like they know the game and have studied it, when that is not the case. They are promoted with scripts that try to make then sound knowledgeable. While I am not a real big fan of the Fox Soccer Channel, at least they provide a bit better insight, unfortunately games are not shown on FSC. Setanta Sports, now part of FSC would have been excellent, but again ESPN has the rights to the 2010 World Cup and we must go with their below average coverage. With that said, at least ESPN did hire some on air talent in Martin Tyler, Ian Darke, Derek Rae and Adrian Healey.

As for the matches themselves, the RSA v Mexico match was a bit more entertaining that the last 35 minutes of the Uruguay v France match I saw. France just looked terrible and maybe Mexico, who showed flashes of brilliance will advance, possibly with Uruguay who played the last 10 minutes or so down a man. RSA, much like France were terrible. A nice goal in the second half gave Bafana Bafana some life, as did the crowd in the stadium, but I think they will come back down to earth in the next match.

Mexico looked much better and controlled the flow of play for a majority of the time, but they could not finish and in my opinion got caught too high on defense at times, once which led to the South African goal. All teams still have a shot at advancing. After seeing France (and I”ll watch the rest of the game today) it looks as if Mexico and Uruguay could both advance.

A True Championship!

One of the BEST football games I have ever seen took place today (well yesterday) in Moscow. The Champions League Final! For the first time ever it was an all English final featuring Manchester U versus Chelsea.

Just a week prior to this match, Manchester United won the Premiership straight out, as Chelsea allowed a late goal for a 1-1 draw. Manchester United would have won regardless, even with a Chelsea win because of goal differential.

Today’s game was live from Moscow on ESPN. How I missed the live broadcast of it, I don’t know. I guess I was looking for a REAL football channel to cover the action, not a wannabe football channel. Thankfully we had two of the best announcers in Martin Tyler and Andy Gray.

I was able to catch the entire game on Setanta after it had been concluded and I knew the outcome (because I had to watch a penalty shootout on, but that did not make the game any less dramatic or exciting.

Overall, the teams played very offensively, just look at 27 shots Chelsea had. An unheard of number! The action was all Manchester United in the first half, with some good end to end action and beautiful header by the second best player in the world, Christiano Ronaldo. Oh the best player, Kaka, of course!

A late, “excuse me” goal by Frank Lampard evened the team, as Edwin Van Der Sar slipped coming out, cutting down the angle, as the ball took two odd ricochets off players and ended up in the net.

The game was great into the second half, as there were some great chances for both team, especially Man U. Yet with all the action and excitement, no goals could be had by either squad. This meat overtime periods.

If the only unfortunate event, Didier Drogba, lost his head for a moment and had a swipe at Nemanja Vidic on the chin, late in the 114 minute after some “controversy” on a throw in by Manchester United. As the scuffle broke out, players had to be separated and when it was all said and done, two yellows and one red were handed out.

Now this event alone did not loose the game for Chelsea. It was just a black eye on Chelsea and looks even worse in how things transpired.

The penalty shootout was exciting! No other word can describe it. Petr Cech made a great save on Ronaldo, who pussy footed up the ball and was not rewarded. That alone was enough to give Man U the finger and present the CL trophy to the Blues. But more drama was to unfold.

England and Chelsea Captain, John Terry strode up the ball, rain coming down facing Edwin Van Der Sar. It was one of those sporting moments that defines “the agony of defeat” (remember the ski jumper on Wide World of Sports?). Terry made his approach and just as he struck the ball, his planted left foot gave out, and as if in slow motion, the ball went right, off the woodwork.

At that point Chelsea was done. It was truly Manchester United’s match to give away. Ryan Giggs and Anderson both scored, while Nicolas Anelka, the newest member of Chelsea took his shot, to the left that was saved by Van Der Sar. The match was over.

Truly one of the BEST matches to be watched, all-time. I have seen some good matches, some exciting matches, some dramatic victories. But this game captured the essence of “the beautiful game.”