World Cup on TV: Roy Keane’s beard balm, the best pairing in football and why Des Lynam is still the king

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Most of us can’t, or don’t want to, be there (some who are can’t even get into the stadiums) so Chris Holt is here to reflect on our favourite presenters, pundits and commentators as the World Cup kicks off in Qatar.

"It's the most controversial World Cup in history and a ball hasn't even been kicked..."

Gary Lineker began in very earnest fashion, as he probably should have done; a serious face as he listed - without outright saying it - all the reasons why Qatar shouldn't really be hosting the biggest show on earth. It did jar a little with BBC's hyperactive opening credits for the tournament which featured a slice of cut commentary to repeat "here we, here we, here we ...go!"

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Minus the f-word, it felt as though we were about to be treated to a crowd scene from a Tiësto concert in Glasgow and I've since found out that the company that produced it - Studio Something - is based in Edinburgh, so I may be onto something there.

Of course everything about the BBC coverage of the opening day was beautifully presented; that was until Lineker, Alan Shearer, Alex Scott and Ashley Williams were forced to stumble through the final minutes of the programme because frankly Qatar v Equador had been absolutely terrible and the quartet managed to eke out everything they could possibly say about it.

Fast forward to the following day and it was a lunchtime kick off for England, which for those of a certain vintage brought back memories of Des Lynam's eye-twinkling "Shouldn't you be at work?" ahead of the Three Lions' early afternoon start against Tunisia at France 98. Lineker had a go, most likely in tribute to his broadcasting mentor, but "this isn't a bank holiday, you know" won't become quite so iconic.

Given that he seemingly lacks the ability to say 'no' to any offer, the omnipresent Jermaine Jenas was on co-commentary duty and he did his bit to appeal to a much younger audience by expressing his delight that the absolutely huge amount of injury time meant it was now home time for the kids watching along at school.

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The boundless energy of Micah Richards made sure that whatever the result, there would be no one flagging early doors but of course the football itself would bring its own joy as England defied the odds by actually being entertaining.

BBC Sport’s pundits are among the best and there is genuine insight offered from the likes of Alex Scott, Shearer, Richards and indeed Lineker when he adds his opinion the odd time. We could, however, do without the constant ‘joking’ about the respective international goalscoring records of Shearer and Lineker.

Into the early evening and it was ITV's turn, with the superb Laura Woods heading things up but we should have known that Senegal v Holland was going to be a stinker because they went for football's greatest partnership - John Champion and Ally McCoist - to talk us through it and help us all forget just how boring the action was.

Of course they didn't let us down, Champion's gentle ribbing about everyone but McCoist being linked with the newly-vacated job as Rangers manager bringing the mirth when on the pitch it was far from a teatime treat.

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So it was onto Wales v USA where Roy Keane and Hal Robson-Kanu distracted us with their attire. I refuse to believe that Keane is a man too concerned about his appearance but he definitely looks after that beard, otherwise there's no way he'd risk wearing the black shirt he turned up in. You could never imagine the cartoon grump rocking up to the studio with a washbag full of essential citrus oils and a black-pepper balm, but there you go.

Oh, and Robson-Kanu wasn't wearing any socks. I don't care how warm it is.

John Hartson brought the passion to the co-commentary as Wales turned up a little late to the party having been awful for the first 45 minutes of their match against USA! USA! USA! With voice-breaking enthusiasm Hartson sounded like he might leave poor old Clive on his own for rest of the game after Gareth Bale equalised from the penalty spot. Probably for the best that Wales' next two matches are on BBC... poor John's voice might not have made it through the group stages, even if Wales manage it.

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