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[SA POLL] Former Germany captain Michael Ballack is serving, along with Alexi Lalas, as ESPN's primary studio analyst during
the network's extensive Euro 2012 coverage. How do you rate the German star's expertise?
I just loved him after the France vs. England game, after Lalas had gushed about how the English had done great because they did what they needed to do: "I'm not impressed." Right on. It was a dreary, ugly game, where England only had one shot on goal all game long and got lucky. We're not all England fans and EPL partisans, so his commentary was a breath of fresh air.
Lalas is all about Lalas and calling attention to himself. While Ballack doesn't have the linguistic skill to verbalize everything, keep in mind that English is his 3rd or 4th language. Still, Ballack knows the international game more than the red-haired narcissist across from him.
I voted C because he hasn't punched Lalas in the face yet. When he finally knocks the snot out of the Ginger Man he will go to a A+.
Ballack has had to correct Alexi Lalas several times. I am just completely surprised that that ESPN moderators don't ask Ballack, if you were captain and permitted by Trainer Joggi Loew to speak to the squad right now, what would you say? Both before kickoff and at the half. Tomorrow ask him point: What final three things would Loew emphasize against the Dutch? And will the Germans commit to an all-out win with three points? Also ask him: These "indoor-like" heat and humidity conditions, how much do they really allow northern European based players to give 80 or even 85% effort? Lots of very pointed questions one could give to both Ballack and Rossi. And incidentally, what happened to Bob Lee? The ESPN (chair) person now in the right hand side chair at the ESPN desk (from the viewer's perspective) keeps changing. Yesterday it was the perky English accent woman, today one or two different men. Either way, there is no real time for any analysis for anyone. The whole thing is a wash and a farce; at most one gets about 6 to 7 seconds per max one comment and then it is a commercial break or the game itself. No real loss there, so I wonder why have someone like Ballack or Rossi sitting in the seat, i.e. why pay them real good money to add a sum total of 23 seconds worth of commentary per day. All of them need to stop "selling" this. Overall there have only been about 35 minutes worth watching. These games are fixed (see Poland-Russia).
@Peter Moran, you are correct 100%, Barrack's linguistic skills are keeping him from making Lalas look like a complete ignorant soccer commentator...Lalas is for Lalas, no idea why ESPN keeps "paying" Lalas for his "usual" ignorant and ridiculous comments. Barrack is very knowledgeable when it comes to world soccer, while Lalas is a "dumb" wannabe commentator!
Ballack has been refreshing. He's succinct...I've found most whose English is a second language to have better command of it than those of us using it as our primary language because they don't have our bad habits of trying to dress up what we're attempting to say.
While he has taken Lalas to task a couple of times...how about when he demolished Tommy Smythe after the Ole Onion Bagger said Luka Modric didn't have a good game against Ireland. Even Lalas got that one right.
There's no doubt he knows the international game better than anyone else with whom he's shared a set (except Kasey Keller-who's also been very good). Both were good pick-ups by ESPN.
Agree with all the comments below. Ballack obviously knows the international game, but more importantly is not afraid to speak his mind. Glad to see him point out Geo Rossi was right in choosing Azzuri over the Red, White and Blue because they are a better soccer nation! I support the US team over any other, but we are not Italy (don't take too much from that last friendly). and yes, Lalas is a big dope. I feel dumber listening to him. should be Geo Rossi and Ballack in the booth with Bob Lee-or better yet, that pretty English girl!
I thought Rossi was a complete bore. Seemed as though he was a little camera shy, and that he did not want to be there.
Ballack has been great.
Lalas and Twellman continue to do their winded brand of analysis. At times it is difficult to comprehend how ex-pro soccer players can't express themselves in a laconic manner. Perhaps it's the American culture of sports commentary which is heavy on triviality and supposition. Ballack and Giuseppe Rossi on the other hand keep it simple and clear.
Lalas represents almost everyone here: His comments are based on his opinions that result from his experience.
Balak just represents the German experience.
Ballack's opinion post Eng-Fra displays the difference between gettting a result and playing to win. Lalas suggested that England result was somehow a win. I would like Lalas to ask an English fan, Is this how you want England to play during Euro 2012? It reminds me how the USA played in 1998 playing a 3-6-1 against Germany or USA v. Brazil with a 4-5-1. Although getting a result which England did may have been good, Ballack asserted, "I'm not impressed." Ballack has rightfully displayed why Germany, Italy, and Brazil are still the cream of the crop on the international level, they take risks! All these countries play to win, Yes, Brazil plays the beatiful game with technical ability, Germany with physical presence and tactical awareness, and Italy with a counter-attack that destroys teams. If you want to win, play to win, if you are content with tying play like the USA in 98, if you want to win play like the USA in 2002!
Ballack is knowledgeable and seems to have a much more balanced approach than Lallas. Alexi has spent too much time banging and absorbing the "British game." But he often forgets to speak; he'll utter a monosyllable and then if prodded he'll say more. He seems diffident where he ought to be much more assertive, particularly to keep Lallas from saying more incorrect or inane things.
I agree with Ric. Amos has no idea what he is saying. Ballack is not bad for this Euro2012.
Ballack gets an A+, Lalas on the other hand gets an 'F' for his banal and annoying commentary. The contrast between the two was particularly evident in the post-game show after England-France where all Lalas could do was make excuses about the boring defensive play of England while Ballack made the observation that England's style left much to be desired in terms of the attractiveness of their football. Lalas became so defensive and curt it made me wonder if he holds dual citizenship with the UK. Bottom line, if ESPN were smart, they would get rid of the banal thin-skinned Anglophile Lalas in favor of some other more qualified American announcer.
Good comments. Agree that Ballack has been quite good and knowledgable, Keller has done a pretty good job too. Like Bob Ley in the anchor chair as well.
I hope that the editors at Soccer America will permit us to also critique the ESPN during match commentary by the different pairs. Frankly I prefer just one person. And I DO NOT WANT RUNNING, NON-STOP COMMENTARY. This is a broadcast for viewers who are not sight impaired, thus we do not require radio commentary. Do not insult us and assault our ears by telling us what we can view with our own eyes. (I only wish to keep the volume up to hear the occasional stadium crowd reactions which we could not hear two years ago due to FIFA's failure to ban the vuvuzelas. However, I must inevitably turn down the volume because NONE of the ESPN commentators knows brevity or the value of silence.)
I give Ballack a B only because his first language isn't English. A+ for having to deal with Lalas daily. My Gosh, for years us Americans have had to deal with his tough guy roll and comments that are no brainers. He's Just not a likable, approachable guy and I really can't believe that the Networks ignore this fact as it ruins the experience for viewers. The only save card for Lalas is if he can bring Ballack back to the table to play for the MLS a couple of years! Everyone loves Ballack and the MLS would gain huge crowds and profit from Ballack playing in the U.S (I think even more than Beckham) MLS needs a boost, and someone be smart and offer him a deal to keep ticket sales in the U.S and interest on U.S soccer alive. I'm Completely confident Ballack playing in the U.S will do the Job! Serious...get a deal together while he is in the U.S.I'm hoping that is why Ballack is doing the Euro 2012...then fall into the MLS.I have talked to many Male Coaches over the years and they ALL have said years ago...Ballack to the U.S would be a genious move.