The NFL once again is cutting into our soccer time with a game in London. Luckily, it is just the Jaguars and the Bills (on Yahoo! no less) so it can be readily ignored. That is unless you are a total degenerate for the NFL product like I am for European football. I do have a beer open and the sun is barely out. Nevertheless, here is a six pack, yes I went to six today, of soccer goodness to supplement your American football and firmly replace the game that was so bad they had to move it overseas and then put it online so people may actually watch it by accident. I'm going to try something new today and go chronologically through the games so you can plan out your viewing schedule. Therefore, let us start off in England with a massive game between two cross town heavyweights.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester City FC vs Manchester United FC (10:05 AM ET/NBC Sports Network)
I am double dipping with the Manchester Derby as I've already given a full preview right here. But one can not reiterate enough how big this game is in terms of global viewership as well as its importance in the EPL title race. Arsenal currently sit top of the table but either team could go top with a convincing win. Hell, City could go back to the apex with a nil-nil draw. Needless to say I don't think that'll happen (which you would have known if you clicked that link). United are at home and City are the walking wounded (Aguero, Silva, Nasri, Delph, Clichy ruled out as of now) but this game always provides drama and could become a wide open affair or a cagey chess match. For neutrals I am hoping it is the former, as both teams have glittering young goal getters, Anthony Martial for United and Raheem Sterling for City, that will inject new life into the 170th edition of this bitter rivalry. Seriously though, I'm going to put the score again, but click that damn link if you want any more analysis.
PREDICTION: Manchester United 2 Manchester City 1
Borussia Monchengladbach vs FC Schalke 04 (12:30 PM ET/Fox Sports 1)
As per the usual, Bayern Munich is running away with the Bundesliga. It is to be expected. The real battles are coming in the chase for the other European places, both Champions and Europa League. Two teams with European history in the mix are Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke. Gladbach has a lot of work to do in their group this term if they even want to qualify for Europa League following their elimination. Schalke, a UCL regular, tops their group in the Europa League currently after three games played. Both teams have similar placement in their European competition table and in the Bundesliga. Schalke could go right behind Bayern with a win as they sit in third currently. Gladbach is mid-table, but that is a vast improvement from the rock bottom status they were dealing with no less than a month ago. Schalke will be looking to take advantage of Gladbach's openness (AKA poor defense) as they try to get the wheels moving on a fairly stagnant offense. They have leaned on teenager Leroy Sane, potentially the center of the next big super power bidding war, who has scored three goals but needs support. Gladbach like to spread the wealth as well with the goal scoring, but if there is anybody most likely to score, it would be former Schalke man Raffael. After careful consideration, I am going with Schalke here and going with them big. OK, it was more of a gut feeling so sue me. (Please don't I'm poor)
PREDICTION: Schalke 4 Borussia Monchengladbach 1
ITALIAN SERIE A
AS Roma vs ACF Fiorentina (1:00 PM ET/beIn Sports 4)
The Manchester Derby isn't the only game with the league lead on the line today in Europe. In Italy, two teams look to pounce on Inter's draw with Palermo and create some distance for themselves at the top of Serie A. Fiorentina currently sit atop the league on goal difference but could build a three point cushion with a victory. Roma, in third, could leapfrog both Fiorentina and Inter into the lead with a victory of their own. A draw, something Roma experienced all too often last season (13 draws), would put the Giallorossi second. Both Scudetto contenders are coming off European competition this week, where they are in substantially different positions than they are in their homeland. Roma had a scintillating, record tying 4-4 draw with Bayer Leverkusen but are still dead last in their UCL group. Fiorentina are in the same boat in their Europa League group after their shock loss to Lech Poznan. Both teams play great football, but I think Fiorentina's defense is better and their keeper, Romanian #1 Ciprian Tatarusanu, is in smashing form in the league.
PREDICTION: Fiorentina 2 Roma 1
PORTUGUESE PRIMEIRA LIGA
Sporting Clube de Portugal vs SL Benfica (1:00 PM ET)
It has been a rough October for the defending Portuguese champions Benfica. They are entirely out of the European places in the Primeira Liga table. Their one chance this month to make up ground saw their game against Uniao da Madeira cancelled due to fog. Add in their soul crushing loss to Galatasaray in the UCL and the month can't end soon enough for Las Aguias. They will have one final test though before they can move on from fellow Lisbon residents Sporting. The Estadio da Luz will be electric as the two sides play in the 296th Derby de Lisboa. Sporting is second behind Porto in the Portuguese table and defeated Benfica in their last meeting in the Portuguese Super Cup, 1-0. The game may be the toughest though on Sporting coach Jorge Jesus. After leading Benfica to three championships he left for the Sporting, a risky move by a man who had worked his way all the way up the Portuguese coaching ranks. While Sporting is the hotter team right now, I think Benfica spoils Jesus' return party with an emphatic win.
PREDICTION: Benfica 2 Sporting Lisbon 0
SPANISH LA LIGA
Atletico Madrid vs Valencia CF (3:30 PM ET/beIn Sports)
Atletico Madrid and Valencia have been the closest things to competitors to Real Madrid and Barcelona over the past few years. Atletico Madrid won La Liga in 2013-14 while Valencia has just been on the periphery of contention in the 3rd to 5th place range. The two will square off today at Atletico's raucous home, the Vicente Calderon. Valencia is hoping to keep their winning ways going after defeating Gent in the Champions League but Los Che have yet to taste victory against Atletico in the Diego Simeone era. Atletico is also trying to build off a big UCL win, 4-0 over minnows Astana. The most important thing to come out of that game may have been that striker Jackson Martinez got on the scoresheet. The Colombian international has found form lacking since his £25.1million move from Porto, but he's been stuck with by Simeone and it may be finally paying dividends. I think Martinez will get on the scoresheet again today against my beloved Valencia but so will Valencia striker Paco Alcacer. This one ends in a draw just like it did in this fixture last season.
PREDICTION: Atletico Madrid 1 Valencia 1
FRENCH LIGUE 1
Paris Saint-Germain FC vs AS Saint-Etienne (4:00 PM ET)
Many rumors have been going around about how this may be Zlatan Ibrahimovic's last season in the French capital. If it is, he is surely looking to go out with a bang. PSG are running away with Ligue 1 and may have their strongest chance to take home the Champions League. If the big Swede can pull off that amazing double, hopefully he brings his talents across the pond to the MLS. Hey, Robert Kraft. If he becomes available throw every cent you have at him. I know you paid that Deflategate fine straight cash. Oh yeah, back to the game. PSG is going to kill St. Etienne. If you can somehow find a way to watch the game though be sure to keep an eye on Nolan Roux for the visitors. He's pretty damn good.
PREDICTION: Paris Saint-Germain 3 St. Etienne 0
Crack open an early morning beer and enjoy your European football supplement to today's American football. Have at it!