I know that I am a dirty stinking liar. I said I was going to try to do a picks column during the international break but that it didn't come to fruition. I apologize. But hey, there is one hell of a slate of games both today and tomorrow so let's put the past in the past and march on to some spectacular football shall we? Crack open a beer and let's start off in Spain where I guess there's this really important game going on.
SPANISH LA LIGA
Real Madrid CF vs FC Barcelona (12:15 PM ET/beIN Sports)
The crown jewel of the La Liga fixture list kicks off for the first time this season this afternoon at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. League leaders Barcelona take on rivals Real Madrid in the 230th edition of El Clasico, a game with huge title implications. It is strange to say with just over double digit games having been played, but today's game may prove whether or not Barcelona is going to run away with the league or if they'll be dragged back to the rest of the pack. The possible return of Lionel Messi is the biggest storyline entering today's game, but this game is more a test of Real's mettle than Barca's. With Atletico nipping at their heels, Real needs a big win today to keep the heat off Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafa Benitez. Dropping six points behind Barca may only ramp up talks of CR7's departure and expedite Benitez's removal as manager. This game won't be a drab affair by any means, but it is one that I don't think either side will be able to seize control in. Barring another dash of brilliance from Neymar, I say this one ends up in an up-and-down draw. The game at the Camp Nou in April will be much different.
PREDICTION: Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 2
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester City FC vs Liverpool FC (12:30 PM ET/NBC)
The travelling Kop will be sure to let Raheem Sterling know very early on what they think of him today as the winger plays his old club for the first time at the Etihad Stadium. City will know by the time they kick off whether or not they'll need a win to go top as both Manchester United (2-1 winners at Watford) and Arsenal (@West Brom) will have already played. They will be getting both Sergio Aguero and David Silva back for the game which is massive. While Liverpool has experience more success than most against City in recent seasons, going to the Etihad is never a fun proposition for them. They haven't won in Manchester in four years and the games have usually been one sided with strokes of magic coming off of Redmen boots to make the games seem competitive. But this has the makings of a new Liverpool side under Jurgen Klopp. Their new style gives this game with City potential to be the best of the Premier League season. Willingness to attack from both sides, but with a precision about it, makes for entertaining football. While my heart wants to take the Reds here, I just can't see the Sky Blues dropping points at home especially with Aguero coming back, even if it is off the bench. I surely hope I am wrong.
PREDICTION: Manchester City 2 Liverpool 1
FC Schalke 04 vs FC Bayern Munich (12:30 PM ET/Fox Soccer Plus)
Bayern Munich may have the Bundesliga all but sealed up already, but that doesn't mean that the five European spots (3 UCL, 2 UEL) underneath them aren't going to be fought for tooth and nail until the German top flight's final day. One of the teams scrapping their way up the table is Schalke. Schalke is one of the lesser known Bundesliga teams among casual fans, but they have some really good players all over the pitch. Leroy Sane may be the next man in the middle of the great European superpower bidding war. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Joel Matip, and Benedikt Howedes are all regular selections to their respective national teams. Most importantly though, Schalke has had Bayern's number of late. They are one of only two teams (Borussia Monchengladbach is the other) that Bayern has not beaten in Germany in the past two years. In any competition Schalke gets the best of the Bavarian giants. Even though Schalke has struggled lately, who am I to go against history today? I hate that I am three games in and I am picking my second draw, but that's just the way the cookie has crumbled.
PREDICTION: Schalke 2 Bayern Munich 2
ITALIAN SERIE A
Juventus FC vs AC Milan (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports)
After you are done with El Clasico (or the other two games who am I to limit you) on beIN Sports, you might as well stick around for a battle of Italian heavyweights as Juventus takes on AC Milan. Though both sides have had their struggles in the 2015-16 Serie A season, they both sit 6th (Milan) and 7th (Juve) in the table. Juve's form has pepped up recently (just one loss since 9/30) after a horror start to their Champions League final encore. Milan have been using the proverbial smoke and mirrors to be where they are boasting a -1 goal differential in support of their 20 league points. Milan can get into the Europa League spots with a win today while Juve would pass AC Milan with a victory of their own. But to just add fuel to the disappointment fire, I have a sad announcement to make. Not only did I not deliver on last weekend's promise, I am taking three draws today. THREE FUCKING DRAWS. Where did my balls go? I am truly ashamed and hope that tomorrow brings better things for your reading pleasure.
PREDICTION: Juventus 1 AC Milan 1
What games or teams would you like to see featured tomorrow and in the future? Have you found a new team or new league you enjoy because of these previews/picks? Let me know at my own personal Twitter @TREVORutley or the site's @B3WHYC3. Until tomorrow, keep those suds flowing and enjoy the day's games everybody!!