Euro 2016 is almost upon us, and ESPN has added to last month’s announcement of match commentators by announcing their lineup of studio hosts and analysts for the June 10-July 10 soccer tournament in France. Bob Ley will lead a team of studio hosts that also includes Mike Tirico (in his final ESPN assignment before decamping for NBC) and England-based hosts Steve Bower and Alison Bender. The lineup of analysts is intriguing as well, combining plenty of familiar faces (Kasey Keller, Taylor Twellman, Michael Ballack) with some new ones, including Abby Wambach in her debut as a TV analyst. Here’s the full list of English-language analysts:
English-language studio analysts include former German National Team captain Michael Ballack, former Scottish National Team defender Craig Burley, former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper and Soccer Hall of Famer Kasey Keller, 1998 FIFA World Cup champion and former French National Team defender Frank Leboeuf, former Everton FC manager and FA Cup-winning coach Roberto Martinez, former Argentina National Team player Santiago Solari, and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and former U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach. ESPN’s lead soccer analyst Taylor Twellman and former England National Team player Steve McManaman, who will call matches with Ian Darke, will also appear in-studio.
ESPN’s Euro coverage will be interesting to watch, especially as the tournament will face some rare top-drawer competition this year with the June 3-June 26 Copa America Centenario (a special edition of the usually-South American tournament, which will be held in the U.S. for the first time and feature the U.S. national team as well as five other CONCACAF teams), which will be broadcast on Fox and its various networks. That may put even more pressure than normal on ESPN to deliver a solid Euro broadcast, as they don’t have the only big soccer event out there this summer. Their lineup of hosts and analysts looks strong, though, and should have them in good position. We’ll see how it plays out.