Yesterday was a rough day for me across the continent in soccer. All the joy of Chelsea's humbling at the hands of Everton was dashed by brutal losses for both Celtic and Liverpool. Valencia only staved off the embarrassment of a draw with lowly Sporting Gijon with a last gasp header from Paco Alcacer. Couple that with the majority of my picks ending as draws or the reverse of my selection and needless to say I had a good buzz on by 1:00 PM. Now I am aware that the NFL returns to rule Sundays once again, so going forward there will be just three picks on Sunday as opposed to the usual five on Saturday. I am hoping my Colts aren't dealt the same fate as my two YNWA'ers. So, start your dual-football Sunday off with some of the European variety. We'll start off in Germany or as I like to call it these days, the US Men's National Team recruiting center.
TSG Hoffenheim vs SV Werder Bremen (9:30 AM ET/Fox Sports 1)
Hoffenheim has had the reputation in recent years of giving opportunities to young Americans looking to make their initial foray into European leagues. The once tiny village club made huge strides in the 2000's going from the fifth division all the way to the Bundesliga, mostly after infusing their club with players from the States. USMNT regulars Fabian Johnson (now at Borussia Monchengladbach) and Danny Williams (now at Reading) were both born in Germany but their allegiance to the USA gave them both a glisten and a dimness in the eyes of Bundesliga fans. The mantle of resident American on Hoffenheim is reserve midfielder Russell Canouse. The 19 year old US U-20 captain is biding his time with hopes that his return from injury means some first team football in 2015. Defender Jeremy Toljan is another German with US eligibility but he has already spurned several advances from both them (his father is American) and Croatia (his mother's native land) to continue on in the German youth system. On the Bremen side, current US striker Aron Johannsson has transitioned comfortably to the Bundesliga after a transfer from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. He's scored one of Bremen's three goals in three games. Both teams are hovering right above the relegation zone as of now, and have trouble putting the ball in the net. But, with the Bundesliga's Fox contract, folks will get to see both current and future American stars ply their trade in Germany's top flight, a practice that won't end as long as Klinsmann is the head man of the USMNT. That could make otherwise drab games interesting.
PREDICTION: Werder Bremen 1 Hoffenheim 0
SPANISH LA LIGA
Malaga CF vs SD Eibar (2:30 PM ET/beIN Sports 4)
When you look at the top of the La Liga table, you expect to see the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Those two are there now, but before yesterday's proceedings that spot was held by little Eibar. Granted it was just through two games, but two wins in a row for the Basque country club. Hell, Eibar wasn't even supposed to be in the Spanish Primera Division this year. Only the financial misdoings and administrative relegation of Elche gave the Spanish minnows a second lease on life following their own demotion after 2014-15. They've taken that second chance and ran with it. They slaughtered Granada in their first contest before imposing their will on a worn out Athletic Bilbao in their second. Eibar look as if they have the makings of a mid-table side, and that shouldn't be viewed as a negative comment. They are a shoot first, defend later type of team which is what you need to be when your stadium seats just over 6,000 people. They'll surely inject some life into their game with Malaga, a team that has the polar opposite of reputations. Malaga has sold off the majority of their stars in the past decade to remain solvent and have become a "more defensive" side. More defensive of course means holding possession and playing keep away while praying to a higher power for an own goal because you can't score one yourself. I am going to be optimistic for once and say that Ray Hudson's second favorite La Liga team can continue their shock start, go top again, and produce a bigger shock in forcing their opponents to actually try to score a goal.
PREDICTION: Eibar 2 Malaga 1
ITALIAN SERIE A
AC Milan vs FC Internazionale Milano (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports)
I usually end the picks with the English Premier League, but did you see the pair of games today. They were dreadful, plus I am trying to distance myself from memories of yesterday. Also, how could I not pick the Milan Derby! The blue and red sides of Milan collide at the San Siro in what is technically an Inter home game. Both sides have had their wounds to lick these past few years, but a slew of summer activity have both thinking about Champions League qualification again. Thus far, Inter is looking the more likely candidate to do so. Stefan Jovetic, on loan from Manchester City, has assimilated himself quite well to his new surroundings. He's scored all three of Inter's goals in a pair of wins versus Atalanta and Carpi. Milan's season needs a kickstart after a loss to Fiorentina and a less than impressive victory against Empoli. Will their own loanee, Liverpool's Mario Balotelli, be that jolt. I'd lean towards no. Inter manager Roberto Mancini has downplayed the early derby saying a win against their cross town rivals isn't vital. I couldn't disagree more. With Juventus struggling like they are early on, it is more than vital to get every point you can to build a buffer against a late charge. I think Inter has more talent and the more in-form striker which gives them the edge. I just hope Mancini doesn't go with "Hey guys, this one isn't important, just have fun" as his pre-match pep talk.
PREDICTION: Inter Milan 2 AC Milan 1
Enjoy today's football, both European and American. You can always follow me on Twitter @TREVORutley and with the site @B3WHYC3. I'm sure you'll see plenty about these games, as well as the Colts and my fantasy players, on both feeds over the course of the day. Crack open an AM brewski and have at it!