That’s right, Gus Johnson will be officially introduced to viewers as a member of the Fox Sports team, but he won’t be calling the game. He’ll be involved in a pregame feature with him doing calls of soccer if he were calling soccer. It’s also a way of introducing himself to a different audience as well.
Fox’s coverage will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern time from the famed Wembley Stadium in London with Fox NFL Sunday’s Curt Menefee hosting along with Eric Wynalda, Warren Barton and Brad Friedel. Calling the final between Barcelona and Manchester United will be Martin Tyler and Alan Smith. Fox Soccer Channel will have its own pregame show featuring the Fox mothership crew at 1 p.m. Then the game begins at 2:45 p.m.
We have your press release from Fox Sports right here.
FOX SPORTS NOTES, QUOTES & ANECDOTES
FOX Sports Invades Wembley for Dream Championship: Barcelona – Manchester United UEFA Champions League Final – Saturday at 2:00 PM ET on FOX
FOX SPORTS INVADES WEMBLEY FOR BARCELONA – MANCHESTER UNITED CLASSIC: UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL SATURDAY – On Saturday, May 28 FOX Sports presents the pinnacle of European club soccer as Barcelona takes on Manchester United in the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final. FOX Sports, for the second consecutive year, is the exclusive over-the-air broadcast home for the UEFA Champions League Final, and live HD coverage kicks off at 2:00 PM ET.
Curt Menefee, FOX NFL SUNDAY co-host, anchors pregame, halftime and postgame coverage for FOX Sports live from Wembley. Menefee is joined by FOX Soccer analysts Eric Wynalda, a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and the second-leading goal scorer in U.S. soccer history and retired English national team and Newcastle United player Warren Barton. Aston Villa goalkeeper and former U.S. international player Brad Friedel joins the panel in London as guest analyst. Martin Tyler (play-by-play) and Alan Smith (expert analyst) call the action from legendary Wembley Stadium.
PREGAME FEATURES – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 2:00 PM ET
Landon Donovan, USA’s all-time leader in World Cup games played and goals scored, breaks down what makes Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, generally regarded as the world’s best player, such a dominating force.
FOX NFL SUNDAY analyst Michael Strahan, who grew up in Europe watching soccer, talks about what makes the two sports that are close to his heart – soccer and American football – so special.
Gus Johnson, the newest addition to FOX Sports’ broadcasting roster, introduces his unique style to fans in a fun segment that illustrates what soccer’s most exciting moments would sound like if Johnson were behind the mike for them.
Analysts break down the exciting matchup, pick their keys to victory and take a look back at the top goals and moments from the Champions League this season.
PRESS CALL TRANSCRIPT & REPLAY
During Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League Final on FOX preview press call, FOX Sports Media Group Co-President and Co-COO Eric Shanks, pregame host Curt Menefee and analyst and American National Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda previewed the matchup and the popularity of soccer in the US.
Wynalda on whether or not Messi needs to win a World Cup in order to cement his place in history: “Nobody has any control, outside of their coach, of FIFA and the World Cup. That’s what I would call forced friendship. You have to be born in that country or of that nationality to compete together. When you’re dealing with UEFA Champions League, you’re dealing with the strongest, richest clubs with the biggest wallets who spend the money to get the best players on the planet on the field at the same time. That’s why UEFA Champions League soccer is so much better than a World Cup. I think Messi has already proven to be the best ever but that certainly would cap things off if somebody could figure how to get those Argentines to get along. That’s always been the issue.”
Menefee on how broadcasting a game of this importance compares to other broadcasting highlights: “I’ve been fortunate in my career to be in this position. You look at the last 12 months, I got to do the Champions League final last year as the host from Madrid, then the Super Bowl this year which was the largest watched program in American history, and now you get an event that probably, at least worldwide, will have more viewers than the Super Bowl did. To be able to be here in person is what I’m looking forward to as much as anything else. The atmosphere and electricity that we’re going to try and capture on FOX is going to be unlike anything anybody has done in television back home.”
Wynalda on the coaching matchup between Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson and Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola: “Barcelona has a possession driven game. They like to keep the ball and force the issue quite a bit. They force open those spaces, as opposed to waiting for them to open. Sir Alex always gets the right formula and this matchup serves United well. His style is all about the one-on-one battles, whereas Pep Guardiola will make it much more of a team sport. That may play to the advantage of Manchester United who have two very experienced defenders in Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidi? who can use that experience to get a toe in or a little nudge that will make it difficult for the likes of Lionel Messi.”
Wynalda on Barcelona’s play-acting and diving on the field: “I think diving is something that has become quite embarrassing for the sport. For as beautiful the soccer they can play, the culprits are the Sergio Busquets, Pedro and Daniel Alves. It’s a disgrace and it needs to stop. My hope is that UEFA will start fining these players after the game is over. It’s not part of the game to try and fool everybody that you have a broken leg, go off on a stretcher, come back and celebrate goal as if you were a 15-year-old kid.”
Shanks on the growth of soccer in the US: “All of the pieces are there for continued growth. Both internationally and domestically, we as a broadcaster want to work with the leagues as much as we can to help continue to grow. We have two 24-hour soccer channels and an online business. As a company, we’re very much behind it and here in the U.S., we want to do everything possible to help the sport grow both bringing in the best international soccer and helping have a strong domestic product. International soccer is the spectacle and I think it has the widest appeal, but having a team in your hometown that you want to see, that you want to get behind, and create some rivalries domestically is important long-term.”