[12/03/13 - 09:34 AM]
ESPN Names First Five Analysts for 2014 FIFA World Cup Team
Michael Ballack, Alexi Lalas, Steve McManaman, Santiago Solari and Taylor Twellman are on tap for the month-long tournament, June 12 - July 13, 2014.

[via press release from ESPN]

ESPN Names First Five Analysts for 2014 FIFA World Cup Team

Analysts Michael Ballack, Alexi Lalas, Steve McManaman, Santiago Solari and Taylor Twellman

Five soccer professionals and national team players - Michael Ballack (Germany), Alexi Lalas (USA), Steve McManaman (England), Santiago Solari (Argentina) and Taylor Twellman (USA) - have been named analysts for ESPN's 2014 FIFA World Cup team in Brazil. With a combined five FIFA World Cup tournament teams between them this group will be part of ESPN's English-language presentation in the United States on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and WatchESPN throughout the month-long tournament, June 12 - July 13, 2014.

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. McManaman will also co-commentate on select matches.

In their first assignment, the analysts will join host Bob Ley at the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., to present the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup(TM) on ESPN2, Friday, December 6, at 11:30 a.m. ET - the kickoff event for ESPN's multimedia coverage of the quadrennial tournament in Brazil when the groups and matchups are determined.

"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."

Ballack was the German National Team captain from 2004 until injury forced him off the World Cup team in 2010. He debuted on ESPN networks as a pundit for UEFA EURO 2012. Brazil 2014 will mark his debut as a World Cup analyst.

Lalas, a U.S. Men's National Team defender and the face of USA '94 team, will work his third straight FIFA World Cup for ESPN having debuted in 2006 as a guest analyst. He is ESPN's lead studio analyst for U.S. Men's National Team and Major League Soccer matches.

McManaman, Liverpool legend and former England National Team player, debuted on ESPN during South Africa 2010. He has since served as match analyst for the network's critically acclaimed coverage of the Barclays Premier League from 2010-2013, working alongside play-by-play commentator Ian Darke. McManaman teamed with Darke again as the network's lead match commentator team for the UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

Solari, former Real Madrid winger and Argentina National team player, will make his World Cup debut on U.S. television with the Draw on Friday and through the month-long Brazil 2014 tournament. He is one of the pundits on ESPN FC, the company's global soccer news and information program.

Twellman, a former U.S. National Team player and one of the most prolific forwards to ever wear a Major League Soccer jersey playing for the New England Revolution, will make his World Cup debut in the booth in Brazil. He is ESPN's lead match analyst for the U.S. Men's National Team and Major League Soccer.

Specific assignments are to be determined, and other ESPN commentators for the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be announced at a later date.

ESPN Inc.'s 2014 FIFA World Cup in the United States

The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be ESPN's eighth World Cup and most comprehensive presentation to date. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will combine to air all 64 matches live and in high definition (June 12 - July 13, 2014), and WatchESPN will show all ESPN and ESPN2 games. ESPN3, ESPN's live multi-screen sports network available in more than 85 million homes, will present matches live in multiple languages (other than English and Spanish).

Additionally, all ESPN studio programming - World Cup Tonight, ESPN FC World Cup Encore, ESPN FC, editions of SportsCenter, as well as the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows - and ESPN Deportes' game-around-the-game programs will originate from the company's production headquarters throughout the month at Clube dos Marimbás on the southern tip of the famed Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

ESPN garnered more than 40 industry awards, including three Sports Emmys, for its presentation of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa - more accolades than any single event in the company's history.

ESPN and Past FIFA World Cup Tournaments (Men's):

South Africa 2010 - All 64 matches live and high definition. All World Cup studio programming originated from South Africa

Germany '06 - All 64 matches live and in high definition

Korea/Japan '02 - 58 ESPN and ESPN2 matches live (six tape-delayed broadcasts on ABC)

France '98 - ESPN 27, ESPN2 23 and ABC Sports 14 (all 64 matches live)

USA '94 - ESPN, 41, and ABC, 11 (all 52 matches)

Mexico '86 - ESPN, 15 matches (U.S. cable television rights)

Spain '82 - ESPN, 7 matches

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