During the buildup to yesterday’s Champions League final, as the always-rousing official UEFA anthem played and Ronaldo winked mischievously at the camera, I thought to myself: This is completely ridiculous. The dancers, the banners, the beer ads, the #riskeverything hashtag, the Portuguese guys dressed as sailors – the whole pre-game spectacle.
And then Fox cut to its Los Angeles studio – to Warren Barton, Rob Stone and Brad Friedel, who should have known better – and I soon found myself pining for more bad Euro pop, more weird dancing and more Heineken commercials.
Before the game, I hoped that Fox’s studio crew, or even its dumb-and-dumber commentary team, would produce something more than the usual platitudes about “the rivalry aspect” of a match featuring two teams from the same city. I hoped that someone at Fox would delve into the complex political history of Real and Atletico and that Stone would stop calling the kickoff “the kick.” Alas, my hopes were disappointed. In a dull pregame montage, Real and Atletico fans talked about how excited they were. After Sergio Ramos’ equalizer, Barton, whose lengthy career heading balls in the Premier League explains a lot, noted that “the pendulum [had] turned” in Real Madrid’s favor.