We all may have our predictions about who will win the competition on the pitch but Britain’s two main terrestrial channels, the BBC and ITV, will be having their own off-field battle to see who can present the finals with the most quality. This is your comprehensive guide to both channels. In this feature we will compare the group stage fixtures each channel has to offer, the presenters, the pundits (regular) and the pundits (those drafted in). Who will win?
Round 1: Fixtures
Here I will compare the top 5 fixtures that each channel will offer during the group stages and see who has come out on top.
1. 12th June: Brazil vs Croatia 9pm.
Whilst this may not necessarily be the biggest game on paper, it will certainly have one of the most exciting atmospheres of any game in the tournament due to it being the first match of the competition. There will be a huge opening ceremony prior to the game and ITV will be pleased to have landed a game that will likely draw in millions to watch it.
2. 16th June: Germany vs Portugal 5pm.
This match will have people across Britain scampering home from work or going home via the pub so not to miss one of the tastiest matches of the group stages. With players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Thomas Muller, Pepe and Bastian Schweinsteiger on show this is not one to be missed.
3. 19th June: England vs Uruguay 8pm.
Arguably England’s biggest game of the group stages and definitely more favourably timed than the Italy game in Manaus. This game will have pubs packed across the whole country.
4. 23rd June: Netherlands vs Chile 5pm.
This match is likely to be a direct shootout between two sides desperate to qualify for the last 16. Both sides are full of attacking flair and this match could be one of the highlights of the group stages.
5. 24th June: England vs Costa Rica/Italy vs Uruguay 5pm.
No football fan in the country will want to miss this collection of fixtures that will most probably seal England’s World Cup fate. A real coup for ITV.
1. 13th June: Spain vs Netherlands 8pm.
This is the repeat of the 2010 World Cup final and is likely to be a fascinating captivating watch. Both sides have the ability to go deep into the tournament and this is certainly one of the picks of the group stage matches.
2. 14th June: England vs Italy 11pm.
Despite the late kick off time, this game falls on a Saturday night so few England fans will be likely to miss it. It is England’s first match of the tournament so expect even more anticipation and a great atmosphere whilst watching.
3. 17th June: Brazil vs Mexico 8pm.
Brazil vs Mexico should be an extremely colourful spectacle between two exciting sides who both play attacking football. Not a game for the avid football fan to miss.
4. 18th June: Spain vs Chile 8pm.
This is another game in this truly encapsulating group that you simply can’t afford to miss. Chile came close to claiming the top spot over Spain in South Africa, losing only 2-1 to the Spaniards despite being down to ten men.
5. 26th June: USA vs Germany 5pm.
Here we see a former German international player and manager, Jurgen Klinsmann, who now will coach the USA against his own country. Expect a tasty affair as both sides could need to win to qualify.
Winner: ITV: They have managed to get the most crucial games at the most suitable watching times and will be the happier of the two channels with the matches they will show. ITV 1-0 BBC.
Round 2: The Presenter
BBC: Gary Lineker vs ITV: Adrian Chiles
Lineker: England football’s golden boy has turned himself into a very popular presenter and has hosted Match of the Day for well over 10 years now. He is also England’s top goal scorer at the World Cup finals with 10 goals.
Chiles: An avid West Bromwich Albion fan who began life at the BBC hosting shows such as the One Show and Match of the Day 2 before being snapped up by ITV. He is yet to score a goal at the World Cup finals…
Winner: Gary Lineker: I would love to say it came down to who scored the most goals at the World Cup finals but it wasn’t really that close. Gary is generally viewed as the more amenable personality which, ultimately, is what an audience requires in a presenter. Lineker reins supreme in this category. ITV 1-1 BBC.
Round 3: The Pundits (Regular)
In this section we shall have a “pundit-off” and head-to-head competition between the four regular pundits on the two channels.
Alan Hansen (BBC) vs Lee Dixon (ITV)
This is a battle akin to a Master vs Padawan as Dixon was once a member of the BBC punditry team under main man Hansen but left to join the “dark side”, ITV, to become their mainstay pundit. This will be Hansen’s final punditry contribution after years of offering high standard tactical analysis in an easy way to digest for the British public. Dixon is also very tactically astute and has is a big asset to the ITV punditry team. This is a pretty close-run thing but as it’s Hansen’s last tournament and he’ll never get a chance to win this prestigious accolade again, we will give him the nod. Master defeats Padawan! BBC 1-0 ITV
Alan Shearer (BBC) vs Ian Wright (ITV)
Shearer has been one of the main pundits on Match of the Day for some time now, despite briefly leaving to attempt (and fail) to pull his beloved Newcastle away from relegation, and will likely succeed Hansen as BBC’s number 1 pundit. He is often accused of being a bit mundane and dull in his presentation but in fairness he does seem to have better tactical knowledge than many pundits on television. Conversely, Ian Wright is possibly the worst pundit on television today. Champion’s League matches are ruined by his incessant use of the word “we” when talking about Arsenal when he is supposed to be giving a, relatively, impartial view. He will most probably get away with this annoying habit at the World Cup as the whole nation will be encapsulated in that “we” he will use to describe England but there is still a large lack of tactical knowledge and content and, in truth, he brings very little to the table. An easy, if unspectacular, win for Shearer. BBC 2-0 ITV
Robbie Savage (BBC) vs Glenn Hoddle (ITV)
Savage has been a relatively recent addition to the main coverage of football on the BBC and has brought a cheeky and relaxed punditry style to the table that perhaps can go missing with Shearer and Hansen. Hoddle, on the other hand, is often heralded as a man that people in the game can’t believe is out of work on the management side of things and clearly has good tactical knowledge and insight but perhaps lacks Savage’s charisma. Having said that, Savage can often be way wide of the mark with his tactical analysis so despite getting better marks for presentation, he lacks the content that Hoddle brings to the table. Hoddle comes (narrowly) out on top. BBC 2-1 ITV
Danny Murphy (BBC) vs Gordon Strachan (ITV)
Danny Murphy has recently undergone a smooth transformation from playing football to becoming a pundit for the BBC. He seems to have a good knowledge of the game, at least at Premier League level, and is one for the future for the BBC. Gordon Strachan, on the other hand, has been there and done it all before and his level of tactical knowledge is ever so slightly sharper than Murphy’s due to his extra experience. Whilst I’m sure Murphy will win this battle in the future, Strachan salvages a draw for ITV in the present day. BBC 2-2 ITV
Result: Draw: Not much to split the two sides here and generally the punditry is of a decent standard. Both sides can take heart from their performance.
ITV 2-2 BBC.
Round 4: The Pundits (those drafted in)
Admittedly, it is pretty tough to decide who will have the stronger set of pundits when very few of them have graced the punditry stage prior to this competition. There are some notable exceptions such as Martin O’Neill, the now Republic of Ireland manager, who was a pundit for BBC during Euro 2008 and famously quipped that he could win a race against Jan Koller, the then Czech Republic centre forward. The only fair way to decide who has the stronger drafted punditry team is to make a 5-a-side team for each and see who comes out on top.
BBC FC (2-2-1) ITV FC (1-2-2)
DF: Rio Ferdinand DF: Fabio Cannavaro
DF: Phil Neville DM: Patrick Vieira
MF: Neil Lennon DM: Gus Poyet
MF: Clarence Seedorf LW: Martin O’Neill
ST: Thierry Henry RW: Andros Townsend
It would be an intriguing match between two fine sides and one that would be very difficult to determine the outcome to. Perhaps it would be best to call it a draw and write to both channels urging them to organise the match so we can resolve our dilemma. Alternatively tweet @0riginalfooty who you think would be victorious.
Overall Result: Draw: ITV 3-3 BBC: Both stations have their merits and flaws and different people will have differing views on which is better but there is really not too much in it. One thing is for sure; both are more than capable of presenting a great World Cup.