It was a hell of a day for the underdog yesterday across the European football landscape. Stoke downed Manchester City 2-0 with two Marko Anautovic efforts in less than eight minutes. Bayern Munich suffered just their second league defeat all season in a 3-1 result against Borussia Monchengladbach. American international Fabian Johnson scored the dagger for Die Borussen. Angers made sure that Lyon's final moments at the Stade Gerland were sour, defeating the home side 2-0 and moving to second in Ligue 1. The most shocking, and satisfying, bit of football magic came at Stamford Bridge as a late Glenn Murray goal helped Bournemouth earn a victory for the ages over Chelsea. Will there be underdog fairy dust in the air again today? Let's head to France first and see if I believe that to be the case.
FRENCH LIGUE 1
FC Girondins de Bordeaux vs EA Guingamp (11:00 AM ET/beIN Sports)
There won't be any type of particular upset today in the Ligue 1 clash between Guingamp and Bordeaux. Both clubs are near the relegation zone in the table, but neither is far off from a decent amount of success in French football. Guingamp have won two Coupe de Frances in six years (2009, 2014) and made the knockout stage of the Europa League last season. Bordeaux participated in that same competition this year after finishing sixth in Ligue 1 last year. While I doubt either of these teams will end up being relegated, today's game is crucial to putting distance between themselves and the drop. Neither team is going to set the world on fire in attack, but both have men who can get a goal in the clutch. Tunisian international Wahbi Khazri is a set piece aficionado for Bordeaux. The 24 year old midfielder has scored four times this season and three of his five assists have come from set pieces. He has drawn interest from both Spanish and English clubs ahead of the January window. Nobody is knocking on Guingamp's door showering them with cash for Jimmy Briand, but the former French international has been a stabilizing force for the team during this rocky season. The winger has scored three times and registered just as many assists on the year. There has been nothing but talk about attack so far, but this game will ultimately come down to which Cedric Carrasso shows up in net for Bordeaux. When he's on, Bordeaux look a European challenger. When he's off, which has been often this year, they are putrid. I'll go with him being good today as Bordeaux takes all three points at home.
PREDICTION: Bordeaux 2 Guingamp 1
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Liverpool FC vs Newcastle United FC (11:00 AM ET/NBC Sports)
I have been smiling ear to ear as a Liverpool supporter since Jurgen Klopp arrived to revive the Kop. The team is in smashing form and all the parts that seemed ill-fitting under Brendan Rodgers have been melded together to make some sort of footballing Megazord. Things have been quite the opposite for Newcastle United under Steve McCLaren. Liverpool head to St. James' Park today coming off a 6-1 undressing of Southampton in the midweek in which Divock Origi netted a hat trick for his first three goals in a Liverpool shirt. Newcastle on the other hand have lost their last two games to Leicester City and Crystal Palace by a combined margin of 8-1. The Magpies are going to be in the relegation zone even with a win (they'd need to win by five clear goals to get out) but it may be a tough ask against England's, and maybe Europe's hottest team at the moment. The good news for Newcastle is that the game is at home where at least they look like they can score. They've scored 14 goals in the league this year, but 11 of those have come on their home pitch. Liverpool are just as dangerous under Klopp away as they are at home, maybe even more so. It will be interesting to see if Daniel Sturridge makes the starting XI after scoring twice in the Capital One Cup. The oft-injured striker is still recovering from his latest setback which means he may be coming off the bench like he did versus Swansea in his first game back. Liverpool don't need Sturridge to start though to beat this Newcastle side. They may get one past the in-form Simon Mignolet, but there is no way their tissue paper defense is keeping Liverpool off the scoresheet at all, if not in bunches.
PREDICTION: Liverpool 3 Newcastle 1
ITALIAN SERIE A
US Sassuolo Calcio vs UC Sampdoria (12:00 PM ET/beIN Sports ñ)
When we started the season in Serie A, one would have thought that Sampdoria would be battling for a Europa League spot and Sassuolo would be fighting for survival. A third of the way into the season those roles have been reversed between the two clubs. Sassuolo's tiny stadium (4,000 capacity) is still used for their training sessions, but they play their games at rival club Modena's park. That information is useless today as the game is at Sampdoria's Stadio Luigi Ferraris other than to point out how truly remarkable Sassuolo is doing on a shoestring budget. Sampdoria have their own budgetary woes this year, but that is more of their own doing than other circumstances. President Massimo Ferrero had assets seized early in the season and was sentenced to jail time for tax evasion. The purse strings tightened even further when the Blucerchiati Serie A rookie manager Walter Zenga in favor of the more experienced, and alas more expensive, Vincenzo Montella from Fiorentina. Sassuolo are not the same team on the road as they are at home, but I believe that they can go to Sampdoria and get a result to push them within one point of a Europa League place in the Serie A table. It won't be the flashiest of games, but it will prove that Sassuolo has more staying power in the top half of the table than most folks think.
PREDICTION: Sassuolo 1 Sampdoria 0
Enjoy this fine batch of supplemental European football for your American football Sunday. If you are so inclined, and you probably are at least a bit if you are reading this, check out the MLS Cup Final today at 4:00 PM on ESPN. The NFL games will all be blowouts and while the game between Columbus and Portland may not have the league's most glittering names, they surely know how to infuse drama into a big match setting. So get those beers cracked, fire up your television or laptop and have at it!