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Where to get the ultimate World Cup experience

So with just 78 days to go until the FIFA World Cup of 2010 gets underway the armchair viewer may be keen to start gearing up their plans. A crate of beer at the ready, all the necessary snacks to go with it and the only question that remains is where to watch the coverage: BBC or ITV?

The biggest football tournament in the world starts of with three matches per day being televised and, with the coverage plan recently confirmed, it got me thinking which broadcaster has any advantage over the other. The BBC already has one up on ITV because they will have first pick on the last 16 and quarter-final ties which England should be expected to competing in. However, both will show the final and any semi-final that involves England. When it comes to the group stages, ITV will show England’s first two games against the USA and Algeria. The pundits, presenters and the way in which both go about their pre and post match shows will be interesting to see for those who will be glued to the TV for the month long tournament. By the end of it remotes could be thrown at the sets in disagreement in someone’s analysis and I would not be surprised if I was completely fed up with some of these “experts” that we are supposed to listen to!

The first round of an indirect slanging match has already taken place with both the BBC and ITV’s heads of sports getting their views across. The Beeb’s Philip Bernie said: “The BBC has some of the most appetising of the group fixtures, and will be showing live every England match from their final group game onwards, so we hope to be with them for a long and successful campaign. The BBC will aim again to capture the very best of the biggest event of the year across all its outlets, on TV, on radio and online.” The response from ITV? Here is what their Controller of Sport (how posh) stated: “We’re delighted that ITV will kick off coverage of this summer’s World Cup and that England’s two opening games will be shown live on ITV1 in peak time. There is no bigger event on UK television or online than the World Cup and ITV will be at the heart of the action from the first kick through to the final whistle.” Now as much as this is a global event, surely ITV are gutted that they only get first choice on England’s two opening games. Let’s face it, the summary of this is that both broadcasters want as many England games as they can get and the BBC has won that battle.

Now that the formalities have been completed, I’ll be looking at some of these ex-professionals who get their 15 minutes of fame and attempt to talk a good game before and after the match. The BBC has some interesting characters. Gary “Walkers” Lineker is bound to come up with witty lines to end the show and will be presenting in sync with Steve Rider who will be in another studio somewhere in South Africa representing ITV. Rider has been in sport presenting for many years but every time I see him at the start of the coverage I get the feeling that he is being fed the lines and that he is robotic. Some of the lieutenants on both teams are right characters as well. Alan “oh the defence” Hansen is tried and trusted- a World Cup veteran. The other Alan, Alan Shearer, well let’s just say that he was a much better football player. How many times can one man state the obvious and give such bland views? Lineker: “That was a cool finish wasn’t it Alan?” To which Shearer is just as likely to say: “Yeah it was, he did well there.” Cheers for that Alan.

While Lineker is likely to have Shearer and Hansen as his main company, Rider is likely to be flanked by Andy Townsend and possibly an ex-manager or international. If Gareth Southgate is not in the commentary box he could find himself in the studio alongside someone like Terry Venables or Glenn Hoddle. These gentlemen are generally level-headed and quite good in their analysis but, and from what I gather from those who take watching coverage seriously, I sincerely hope that David Pleat is kept away. I mean he just, well, bleats doesn’t he? The interesting thing about both the BBC and ITV is that they have a lot of substitute type of pundits, ones who are just filling in to make an extra man. I refer to Lee Dixon, Robbie Earle and previous World Cups tell us that foreign views are likely to be added with Marcel Desailly, Leonardo and David Ginola being contenders for that role. In addition to that there will be some Premiership managers who will be holidaying and passing their time by offering their views during matches.

Don’t be surprised if both come up with some flashy new graphic that shows the teams and tactics and for both sets of studios to overlook some part of a South African city they will be based in, but I noticed that the BBC studio looked a long way up from the ground in Germany four years ago! ITV’s advertisements looks like it will hurt them in the long run and the BBC can make up with that by attracting more viewers. The commentary teams for both seem fairly balanced. Clive Tyldesley provides humour along with good knowledge of the game whereas the BBC now has Guy Mowbray as their front man and his co-commentator Mark Lawrenson will undoubtedly make a silly joke during some time in the match.

With a summer of football to look forward to, the entertainment on the pitch is likely to be backed up by views and commentary that is either going to be quality or leaving question marks about how certain people are still in the job. The BBC and ITV will be keen to keep as many of their viewers as possible seeing as they are going to be taking over the nation’s TV sets for one month.

Are there any particular favourite pundits or ones who are just useless in anyone’s eyes?

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Article title: Where to get the ultimate World Cup experience

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