Although Michael Ballack was worthy of the comparisons to Magic Johnson, Emmitt Smith, and other awkward star athletes turned analysts at the beginning of Euro 2012, the German captain has rebounded to his moonlighting as a studio analyst for ESPN. While Ballack isn't yet Kirk Herbstreit by a long way, he's improved in communicating with viewers (after all, it's not like English is his first language) and being able to produce coherent analysis... and he still looks like the perfect Bond villiain.
However, one aspect of the ESPN studio that viewers are still tuned into is the awkward tension between Ballack and Alexi Lalas, far from a fan favorite in his own right. The disagreements between the two haven't reached the Mike Milbury v Jeremy Roenick level of intensity, but the pair's on-set chemistry has become one of the talking points of the tournament. The term "polar opposites" can't even begin to describe the differences between Michael Ballack and Alexi Lalas in many ways. If only one emerges from the ESPN studio alive at the end of the tournament, nobody will be surprised. As always, these are Real Tweets from Real People...
@MenInBlazers Dear ESPN Suggestion Box: If you are looking to kill time during rainbreak, please arm @AlexiLalas and Michael Ballack with Nerf Blasters
@jarrettgreen I share Michael Ballack's obvious disdain for Alexi Lalas. #fb
@SherwoodStrauss Best part of Euro Cup: Michael Ballack & Alexi Lalas hate each other
@timtheredmenace At this point, we're all just waiting for Michael Ballack to punch Alexi Lalas in the face.
@RobDauster Every interaction between Alexi Lalas and Michael Ballack is unbearably awkward. I can't even watch it.
@MartySwag14 I don't think Alexi Lalas and Ballack have agreed on one thing this whole euro
@SchnixB04 I would give my left nut to see Ballack grab Lalas' necktie and slam his head into the desk. #doitdoitdoitdoit
@O87Minutes Lalas/Ballack = Zack Morris/AC Slater
@gabezal I keep expecting for Michael Ballack to say, "I must Break You," and then punch Alexi Lalas in the nose. Keeps me watching.
@SherwoodStrauss I watch for the chance that Ballack kicks Lalas under the table, really hard
@RWhittall Alexi Lalas HATES Michael Ballack. They will both be dead by the end of this tournament.
@keeneTV @liverpooldeep watching Alexi Lalas and Michael Ballack on ESPN is more painful, although their hatred of each other is mildly amusing
@JoshCJ_ Michael Ballack looks at Alexi Lalas like he's an idiot. And he's right. #euro2012
@joshkulak It's fun to watch Michael Ballack smirk when Alexi Lalas starts bragging about himself
@HesGotTheData I could cut the tension between Michael Ballack and Alexi Lalas with a warm stick of butter. #awkward @espn
@dcastanheira30 Michael Ballack wants to punch Alexi Lalas in the face
@TKKincanon If I was Michael Ballack, I'd punch Alexi Lalas in the face.
@edsbs Would really love it if Michael Ballack just responded to a question by walking over to a piano and playing a moving concerto.