From impassioned debates around the kitchen table to detailed reports about matches that never happened, Europe’s soccer media are working overtime to give fans a welcome distraction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona and England striker Gary Lineker, a keen amateur chef, even opened up his home in a bid to satisfy the public’s appetite for sports talk.
As presenter of long-running British top-flight highlights show Match of the Day, Lineker, ignoring social distancing guidelines, played host to regular studio guests Alan Shearer and Ian Wright around his kitchen table at the weekend.
Match of the Day was screened as a panel show on Saturday, with Lineker, Shearer and Wright debating the greatest captains of the English Premier League era.
For once there was no talk of the video assistant referee, as former Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers star Shearer detailed his memorable battles with Manchester United’s Roy Keane, while former Arsenal striker Wright described his use of “Franglais” to annoy teammate Patrick Vieira.
In what was due to be FA Cup quarter-final weekend, the BBC also filled the void of what would have been live games with classic matches from the competition’s past.
Linker, 59, has since gone into self-isolation after his 28-year-old son George told him that he might have contracted the coronavirus.
In one of the nations worst hit by the pandemic, the Italian media have been focused on boosting national pride.
Sky Sports have already broadcast Italy’s matches on their way to victory in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The schedule for Monday was “a whole day spent together with Italian coaches who have left their mark in England.”
There were segments on Claudio Ranieri, who masterminded Leicester City’s fairy-tale Premier League title triumph, Roberto Mancini, who won the title at Manchester City, and Carlo Ancelotti, a double winner at Chelsea.
Much of the weekend’s French coverage was given over to the big clash between Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain, which was meant to be played on Sunday.
Sunday’s edition of sports daily L’Equipe had a front-page montage of current PSG defender Marquinhos giving chase to Chris Waddle in a Marseille shirt.
Inside, the paper pitched together a dream team for each side — Marseille with Waddle, Didier Deschamps, Didier Drogba and Jean-Pierre Papin against PSG with Rai, Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and George Weah.
Nostalgia has been a recurring theme and on Sunday night Canal Plus filled the slot that should have been dedicated to live coverage of the match by showing highlights of games between Marseille and PSG in the past decade.
BeIN Sports showed France’s 2018 FIFA World Cup final win against Croatia at the same time.
Sky Sports’ German channel spent the weekend running Bundesliga compilation packages featuring great goals and dramatic late winners.
Streaming service DAZN have put up every single UEFA Champions League final since 1991-1992.
Newspaper Bild summed up the desperation for some sporting drama the best. It teamed up with the Chess24 Web site to stream the World Chess Championship Candidates Tournament from Russia, under the headline: “Finally, some sport.”
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