ESPN is going all out with its coverage of the UEFA Champions League final next Wednesday.
The total sports network will cast its multimedia net around the May 27 event pitting English Premier League champion Manchester United, led by FIFA world player of the year Christiano Ronaldo, against La Liga titlist FC Barcelona, topped by Lionel Messi, the player who may become this year's top futboler.
Through its various networks, ESPN will make the top club championship available to 167.8 million households in 115 nations and territories U.S., Canada, Latin America, Africa, the Pacific Rim and Asia.
The 2009 final marks the 15th straight year ESPN and its international networks have televised the Champions League final. However, it will be the last for at least three years in the States as Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports USA outbid the sports leader for rights to the tourney from 2010 through 2012.
In addition to the live 2009 Champions League final telecast, ESPN will deliver its "game around the game" coverage with news, information, highlights and analysis across its media platforms in the U.S. and beyond. ESPN's global coverage will feature 14 on-air commentators from State Olimpico in Rome. The on-site commentators calling the match in three languages: Fernando Palomo, Quique Wolff, Juan Yankilevich, Jose Ramon Fernandez, Martin Ainstein (Spanish television), and Jorge Ramos and Hernan Pereyra (Spanish radio); Derek Rae, Tommy Smyth, and Dave Roberts (English); and José Trajano, Paulo Andrade, Paulo Vinicius, and Andre Kfouri (Portuguese).
Stateside, ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise the match on May 27 at 2:25 p.m. (ET).
Leading up to the contest in which ManU is looking to repeat, ESPN2 will air a one-hour preview special on May 26 at 7:30 p.m., hosted by Adrian Healey with analysts Janusz Michallik, Shaka Hislop and Robbie Mustoe, including reports from Rome. Moreover, there will be extensive segments on SportsCenter and First Take devoted to the futbol championship. The aforementioned on-air quartet will also handle the halftime and post-match segments on ESPN HD. ESPN Classic will encore the match at 5:30 p.m.
For its part, ESPN Deportes SportsCenter will have on-site reporting from all editions, kicking off May 25. In addition to its match coverage, ESPN Deportes will flank the game with 30-minute pre- and post-match shows.
Digitally, broadband service ESPN360.com, which announced a distribution deal with Comcast.net earlier this week, will feature live English- and Spanish-language simulcasts in the U.S. and in Latin America. ESPN360.com in Mexico and Chile will also be streaming the ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes feeds. The service will also simulcast the 60-minute ESPN International English-language pre-match program.
For the final, ESPNdeportes.com and ESPNsoccernet.com will provide complete highlights and coverage, including previews, recaps and post-game analysis, "Road to Rome" photo galleries, exclusive video highlights and podcasts, columns, blogs and chats with ESPN television commentators and soccer experts and online polls.
In print, a profile about Messi is the cover story for ESPN The Magazine.
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