ESPN announced Monday that six renowned former La Liga players will headline the company’s coverage of LaLiga Santander in the U.S. beginning Aug. 13, when the 2021-22 season kicks off.
The television analysts will have recurring roles on the English- and Spanish-language presentation of La Liga across ESPN+, ABC, ESPN, and ESPN Deportes. ESPN+ will carry all 380 LaLiga matches live in English and Spanish.
Former Atlético Madrid’s Luis Garcίa, Real Madrid’s Steve McManaman and RCD Espanyol’s Pablo Zabaleta will share lead roles as English-language analysts. Former Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlán, former Valencia CF’s Mario Kempes and Real Madrid legend Hugo Sánchez lead the team of Spanish-language analysts.
The six analysts earned seven league titles, four Copa del Rey titles, and three UEFA Champions League titles. Forlán (2) and Sánchez (1) earned three European Golden Boot awards, as the top scorer for a season in Europe. Together, the six former players scored a combined 521 league goals, led by Sánchez (234), Forlán (128), and Kempes (126). The three forwards also won nine Pichichi Trophies, given to La Liga’s top goal-scorer each season.
“We are pleased to have these legendary players represent LaLiga on ESPN+ and ESPN networks for the foreseeable future,” said Rodolfo Martinez, Vice President, International, and ESPN Deportes Production, ESPN. “This group reflects our commitment and ambition to elevate how soccer fans in the U.S. experience LaLiga matches and exciting storylines throughout the year across our platforms.”
Bilingual analysts will appear on Spanish- and English-language pregame, halftime, and post-game programs across ABC, ESPN, and ESPN+, in addition to highlights and analysis shows including SportsCenter, ESPN FC Jorge Ramos y su Banda and Fuera de Juego.
The 91st season will kick off Friday, Aug. 13, with Valencia CF vs. Getafe CF at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+, the exclusive, new home of coverage in the U.S. La Liga content will also appear across a combination of ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ABC platforms. The season-opening weekend will include the first LaLiga on ABC broadcast – Barcelona FC vs. Real Sociedad – on Sunday, Aug. 15, starting at 1:30 p.m. The match will also be simulcast on ESPN Deportes and stream live on ESPN+.