ESPN pulling out all the stops for El Clasico Miami

Calling it “a sexy rivalry in a sexy city,” ESPN executives are sparing no expense for the network’s English and Spanish-language coverage of El Clasico Miami, the highly-anticipated July 29 match between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona at Hard Rock Stadium.

Plans include weeklong content, 25 on-air commentators, SportsCenter from Bayfront Park, a one-hour pregame special, and live bilingual match telecasts on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, making it ESPN’s most comprehensive coverage ever of a single soccer match.

They will also cover the July 26 International Champions Cup match between Champions League finalist Juventus and French power Paris Saint Germain at Hard Rock Stadium.

Why so much attention for what is essentially an exhibition match?

With a combined worth of $7.2 billion, Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the top three most valuable sports franchises in the world, behind only the Dallas Cowboys, according to Forbes. They have played each other outside Spanish soil only once in history.

Between them, their two stars – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – have won the past nine FIFA Ballon d’Or Awards given to the world’s top player. The two players have a combined 180 million followers on Instagram.