Netherlands vs. Spain The Analysts Predict The 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals

Spain 2Earlier today, ESPN conducted a media conference call with lead play-by-play commentator Martin Tyler, match analyst Efan Ekoku, executive producer Jed Drake, and sr. vice president of programming Scott Guglielmino to discuss the culmination of ESPN’s month-long coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Tyler and Ekoku will call the Finals matchup, Netherlands vs. Spain, Sunday, July 11, from Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg at 2 p.m. ET on ABC and ABC HD. Select comments from the conference call:

On the Netherlands vs. Spain finals match…
Tyler: “We’re going to have a new winner and that’s particularly exciting…Spain is really setting the agenda and reminding us all that the actual game is a passing game, a team game. They’ve worked so well as a unit, they haven’t been overly spectacular, but they’ve been very consistent and a joy to watch. Efan and I had a real privilege watching them dismantle a really exciting German team last night…To do that they have to be very good. They’d have to be my favorite in the final.

“The Dutch have got to do a little bit more than Germany managed to do…The Dutch have got Wesley Sneijder who is having a fantastic tournament, of course, and capable of opening up at any game. Arjen Robben…at his best is certainly a match winner at this level. Robin Van Persie, a striker from Arsenal who’s played but not really functioned…Those that have had the pleasure of seeing Van Persie play on a regular basis know that he’s an outstanding talent, and I don’t think the World Cup has seen the best of him yet…They have got tools, the Dutch. It would be a marginal surprise. I think Spain would be the favorite, but not a foregone conclusion by any means.”

Ekoku: “Star wise, they are evenly matched…Spain I feel has that extra belief and that’s what’s been missing on the Dutch side in the last 25 or 30 years.”

On the 2010 World Cup: South Africa as host, vuvuzelas and the overall atmosphere…
Ekoku: “Congratulations to the South African organizing committee…They’ve done a fantastic job…I remember quite a lot of World Cups and this is my fourth as a player, fan and commentator as well. The organization levels, the warmness, the friendliness has been fantastic – as good, if not better than, any World Cup that I’ve been to before.”

Tyler: “Germany traditionally used to have clacks and horns…(the vuvuzela) it’s been the sound of this World Cup and we’re pleased to recognize it…In terms of World Cup comparisons, it’s been really humbling to be a guest of this rainbow nation. I stayed here seven years ago with England for a week and I didn’t see too many smiles, but I think now they’re further down the road towards democratization and everyone seems very together about it. I think to be honest with you the World Cup in five weeks has moved the country forward as much as five years…some of the old divides and suspicions and prejudices, they’ve been quickly wiped out and that’s been a joy to behold. In terms of competition of the tournament, it’s hard to compare. It certainly was slow to get going in terms of goals, which we all like to see…Once it got going and the four quarterfinals were as good as any that I remember.”

On the potential of the United States hosting a future World Cup…
Ekoku: “As long as the passion and interest for the game in the States continues to increase, I don’t see why not. The U.S. held a fantastic World Cup back in 1994…Everything is held to a very high professional standard. FIFA does their best to make sure that the tournament is very protected around the continent and there will be many other nations from all the continents trying to get their first crack at holding their first World Cup. Sometimes you just have to wait your turn…Certainly the U.S. will be among the frontrunners.”

Tyler: “I am absolutely sure that the U.S. will hold a brilliant World Cup…Clearly the success of an African World Cup is encouraging those who have never had a World Cup. I know that the Middle East is very keen…Australia wants to have it as well. It’s great for the game. It’s truly a global sport and it has to be represented really in a global way when it comes to selecting the lucky nation.”

On ESPN’s record viewership ratings and production of the 2010 FIFA World Cup…
Guglielmino: “It’s been a terrific event for us – a great demonstration of the overall interest that fans have in the FIFA World Cup in the U.S., and our ability to reach and serve those fans, wherever and whenever they would like to consume World Cup content. It’s been terrific, lots of planning and preparation has gone into it. The work that my colleagues have done on this call and will continue to do over the next 72 hours has exceeded our expectations across the board.”

Drake: “The passion that the U.S. viewers have shown, clearly with the U.S. team when it was still in play, the numbers were extraordinary. But, since then, the numbers have held up quite nicely. I think that we’ve achieved what we set out to do, with two games to be played, in that we’ve served knowledgeable football fans very well with our breadth of coverage. Not just with number of hours but with analysis and insight we brought to it…I think perhaps in some measure due to the U.S., and how they played initially, U.S. viewers were drawn to this event itself. Even when the U.S. ended their run, that halo of this event has captured them.”

ESPN 2010 FIFA World Cup Final Conference Call Replay
With Commentators Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku, Executive Producer Jed Drake, and Sr. Vice President of Programming Scott Guglielmino