FC Bayern Munich vs Hannover 96 (9:30 AM ET/Fox Sports 1)
Much of the attention surrounding Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich lately has been around manager Pep Guardiola. While Bayern have rebuilt a five point lead in the table, advanced to the DFB Pokal quarterfinals, and moved to the last 16 in the Champions League, Guardiola's saga still remains center stage. Reports keep surfacing that a move to Manchester City is all but a certainty for the former Barcelona man next year. Just don't tell Manchester United and Chelsea that. Bayern has even gone as far as to agree in principle with three-time Champions League winning manager Carlo Ancelotti to be Guardiola's replacement next year. So while the future of the Bavarian behemoths remains foggy, the present is clear skies. Bayern finishes up their 2015 this morning with a trip to the HDI-Arena in Hannover. The home side is currently in the relegation playoffs place. In Germany, the third worst team in the Bundesliga plays the third best team in the Bundesliga.2 for the last spot in the top flight the following year. They'll probably stay in that spot for at least one more week, because while Bayern should obliterate them, Wolfsburg should do the same to bottom of the table Stuttgart. Bayern are just too focused and cohesive a squad to let managerial fuss derail them. This game is over by halftime.
PREDICTION: Bayern Munich 4 Hannover 0
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Celtic FC vs Motherwell FC (10:00 AM ET/Celtic TV)
It is another battle of league leaders against the last survivor in our second game of the day. Four-time consecutive Scottish champion Celtic take on relegation battling Motherwell at Celtic Park. Since finishing second to Celtic in the 2013-14 Premiership, it has been a constant struggle for survival for The Steelmen. After their impressive finish, they were unceremoniously dumped out in the second qualifying round of the Europa League. Last year it took an absolute horror show of a finish by St. Mirren to keep them up. This year they are hovering just above the relegation playoff zone again. But things are looking as bright as they can in the dog days of Scottish winter for The Well. After having a game postponed due to high winds, they came back last week and won convincingly against Dundee 3-1. They also won't be that fearful of the champions as they were only beaten 1-0 in their last meeting at Fir Park. Celtic will also be without league leading scorer Leigh Griffiths. The striker just signed a new five year contract with the Hoops, but a calf injury will leave him in street clothes for this one. Although the odds are in Motherwell's favor more than they probably ever will be, I can't see Celtic dropping points at home to relegation fodder. They have yet to lose at Celtic Park this season.
PREDICTION: Celtic 2 Motherwell 0
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Everton FC vs Leicester City FC (10:00 AM ET/Premier League Extra Time)
It's much more than a holiday miracle that Leicester City still sits atop the English Premier League. It will however take some magic for them to stay there with a brutal schedule over the next few weeks. The Foxes hold a two point lead over second placed Arsenal as they head to Goodison Park today to take on Everton. It only gets trickier for Claudio Ranieri's men. They stay in Merseyside next weekend but head to the red side of town to take on Liverpool on Boxing Day. They then host Manchester City on short rest at the King Power Stadium. Their new year's gift is Bournemouth, who has been a giant killer in their own right, contributing to Jose Mourinho's sacking as much as the leaders. Follow that up with consecutive games against Tottenham in the FA Cup and the league and it could be a cruel start to the new year for every neutral's favorite club. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez remain in fine form, but Everton has their own goal machine in Romelu Lukaku. He's just over halfway to Vardy's record of 11 straight games with goal with six, and should get plenty of chances against Leicester's permeable defense. But the visitor's dynamic duo will have just as many opportunities as Everton hasn't exactly been Fort Knox in front of Tim Howard either. I think this will be one of the funner games of the day with play being wide open and both sides taking some auspicious efforts at each other's net. But in the end, I see it as a draw, and a Desmond special at that.
PREDICTION: Leicester City 2 Everton 2
FRENCH LIGUE 1
Paris Saint-Germain FC vs SM Caen (11:00 AM ET/beIN Sports)
When one wants to talk about dominance in domestic European football, you need to look no further these days as to what PSG is doing in France's Ligue 1. Bayern has been king of Germany. Real Madrid and Barcelona have held court in Spain. The Manchester Clubs and Chelsea have played pass with the crown in England. But since their recent infusion of cash, no team has ruled more tyrannically in the big European leagues than Paris Saint-Germain. The Parisians have still yet to lose this year in Ligue 1 with 15 wins and 3 draws in their 18 games. Their 48 points at the moment leaves them just two shy of the Ligue 1 record for points at the midway mark of 50 set by Lyon in 2006-07. Their form this year also puts them on pace to shatter their own record for points in a year of 89 that they set two years ago. Laurent Blanc has his team thriving and all the pieces that seemed jagged just one year ago fit perfectly now. Even the constant links to Cristiano Ronaldo, and now Jose Mourinho, has not shifted the team's focus of a fourth consecutive league crown and deeper advancement in the Champions League. They should have the first all but wrapped up as they at the moment are 17 points ahead of second and third place and 18 in front of today's opponent Caen. Caen won't have to worry this week about losing their Europa League spot. With Nice already having played on Friday, this makes the PSG game more to show that they belong in France's upper echelon rather than one of desperation. Still, PSG make history this afternoon.
PREDICTION: PSG 3 Caen 1
SC Heracles Almelo vs FC Groningen (2:45 PM ET/NGSN USA)
The first foray into the Dutch Eredivisie (but the second time typing it, thanks Weebly!) on the European Soccer Picks is an interesting one. Across the majority of Europe's major leagues, the European places (Champions League, Europa League) in the standings are fairly set in stone. It takes a rogue winner, like Chelsea with the Champions League in 2011-12, to upset the status quo. That is not the case with European qualification in the Eredivisie. While the top three teams are guaranteed places in Europe's top club competitions, places 4 through 7 duke it out in a playoff to see who advances to the Europa League. It is a model that I feel would be glorious across the other big leagues on the continent, but would almost unanimously be shot down by the owners and boards. But the Netherlands have produced some fun football with the idea and this year will be no exception. Two teams tussling in those playoff spots right now are fifth placed Heracles and sixth placed Groningen. Groningen made the Europa League last year as KNVB Cup winners after finishing just outside the playoff places in eighth. Heracles nearly did the same in 2011-12 losing in the final of the KNVB Cup. Now both are trying to go the playoff route this year as both have been eliminated from the cup. As both teams play very similar styles, the deciding factor for me today was where the game was being played. With the game in Almelo at the Polman Stadion, I had to go with Heracles. Groningen's scoring is a mirror image away than it is at home, and that's a bad thing. They've scored just 5 road goals and conceded 15 as opposed to 15 scored and 5 conceded at Euroborg.
PREDICTION: Heracles 2 Groningen 1
Enjoy the day's festivities as it will surely distract you from the 42, yes FORTY FUCKING TWO, bowl games that will take place over the next couple weeks. Crack open an AM beer at a bar, in your living room, or wherever you are viewing the action and have yourself a holly jolly Soccer Saturday!