Well, let's try this again. Thanks to the awful concept of tap clicking (which my computer idiotically won't let me turn off) and Weebly's seemingly missing auto-save, I completely lost the original copy of today's picks. Granted, with the way Liverpool is playing right now, that isn't necessarily a 100% bad thing for me at the moment. But as I am trying more to focus on the puddle of positive in my life rather than the sea of negative, let's get back up on this horse and start again. I'll add another game from another league to make up for the lost Liverpool/West Brom prediction, but I assure you as I'll be doing this while the game is currently going, a rant or cuss word or two is apt to leak into the content. So without further ado, let's try this again by heading to Portugal as the third amigo in the Primeira Liga hierarchy tries to fend off the hard charging European powers.
PORTUGUESE PRIMEIRA LIGA
Sporting Clube de Portugal vs Moreirense FC (1:15 PM ET/Sport TV Americas)
If you look at the historical winners of the Portuguese Liga over the past 50 years, it has been a Benfica and Porto parade pretty much every year. In fact there have been only three other winners of the league EVER. Belenenses in 1945-46, Boavista's shock victory in 2000-01, and Sporting Lisbon are the only other clubs to lift Portugal's most prestigious prize. While Sporting is entrenched in the league's history, they haven't even been the bridesmaid in Portugal this past decade. More often than not they are the flower girl as they watch Benfica and Porto secure guaranteed UCL football while they toil in qualifying. This year has started off differently though as Sporting has advanced in Europa League and kept themselves at the top of the Portuguese table simultaneously. Today they take on Moreirense to keep it that way. With Porto winning at the moment, Sporting will have to get a clear victory over the lower table Verdes e Brancos to maintain their top position. They'll need Algerian international Islam Slimani to continue his fine goal scoring form. He is third in the division in scoring and netted the equalizing catalyst in Sporting's comeback against Besiktas to advance in the UEL. Moreirense will buckle down to try for a low scoring affair, but I think Slimani gets on the scoresheet today and keeps the Lisbon Lions top for at least one more week.
PREDICTION: Sporting Lisbon 3 Moreirense FC 0
SPANISH LA LIGA
Villarreal CF vs Real Madrid CF (2:30 PM ET/beIN Sports)
Both Madrid clubs are looking to make up ground today in La Liga. With Barcelona's uncharacteristic meltdown against Deportivo La Coruna, Atletico and Real have a previously unexpected chance to make up ground on the league leaders. Barcelona had a two goal lead evaporate into a draw with Deportivo, making Atletico's game with Athletic Bilbao and Real's with Villarreal must wins today. I chose the latter game because Villarreal has just as much on the line at the moment. The Yellow Submarine host Real Madrid at the El Madrigal today, a place that has been a fortress for them in the league this year. Only Barcelona (21) have taken more points at home than Villarreal has at their ground (16). They are facing a very angry, and now healthy, Real Madrid team today though. Los Blancos had their appeal with the CAS for re-entry into the Copa Del Rey rejected this past week. They were given the old heave-ho from the King's Cup after fielding an ineligible Denis Cheryshev in their game against Cadiz. Cheryshev scored in the game, but Real manager Rafa Benitez had neglected to remember that the Russian was ineligible for the contest having picked up a suspension in the competition on loan last year with...Villarreal. While their spite may be misplaced towards Villarreal, Madrid is coming in in smashing form. Cristiano Ronaldo scored four against Malmo and Karim Benzema had a hat trick in a 8-0 annihilation of Malmo in the Champions League. Those two and Gareth Bale all scored in the same game for the first time ever in Real's last La Liga game against Getafe. Villarreal manager Marcelino is all but conceding defeat saying that "I worry about our defensive balance because just scoring as many as possible to win games isn't sustainable." I don't think that Marcelino's men are in for a Malmo-esque beating, but they are in for a long day in front of their home fans.
PREDICTION: Real Madrid 4 Villarreal 0
ITALIAN SERIE A
ACF Fiorentina vs Juventus FC (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports 3)
With Inter Milan's big win yesterday, the match between Fiorentina and Juventus today in Turin just got a bit bigger. Fiorentina are desperately seeking their first Scudetto since 1969 and feel this squad has the best chance to end that lengthy drought. Nikola Kalinic leads the most potent attack in Serie A today into the lion's den of the Juventus Stadium. Juve was left for dead like a fallen gladiator early on as the Champions League runners-up struggled in the season's early months. But while their forwards still continue to build trust, their defense has solidified allowing the Old Lady to steadily ascend up the Italian first division. (LFC ALERT: UGH, CORNERS) Paulo Dybala has cemented himself as a top class striker for the four time defending champions. He's taken the mantle as Juve's resident Argentinian bulldog from Carlos Tevez and ran with it. But while Fiorentina is getting headlines domestically for their offense, their defense shouldn't be neglected either. They have let in just one more goal than Juve (12 to 11) allowing them to boast a Serie A best +18 goal differential. After going back and forth with this game, I couldn't see it not ending in a draw. Juventus' may have won five straight, but their home form is just as good as Fiorentina's away. They match up so well with each other on each level of the pitch and it will take something special from either side to get a winner.
PREDICTION: Fiorentina 1 Juventus 1
FRENCH LIGUE 1
Paris Saint-Germain FC vs Olympique Lyonnais (3:00 PM ET/beIN Sports 4)
All of Europe will descend on France next summer as the European Championships will take place across their countryside. The hosts drew a fairly easy group in Albania, Romania, and Switzerland. But the draw may have put an extra bit of fire in Ligue 1's most marketable player, PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede and his countrymen have been drawn in the "Group of Death" with Belgium, Italy, and the Republic of Ireland. Look for Zlatan and his club compatriots to take that frustration out on downtrodden Lyon. Even with a win over Valencia, Lyon is probably at their lowest point of the 2015-16 season. They are out of European football altogether as they finished rock bottom in their Champions League group. They haven't won in Ligue 1 in over a month and now find themselves on the outside of the European places heading into next year. Their strikers are misfiring and their defense looks flustered. A trip to the Parc des Princes, a place that PSG hasn't lost at all year, isn't necessarily what they want to see right now. As PSG await their fate in the UCL draw, they will continue to take care of business domestically. I don't see any way Lyon make anything of this game today, and it could easily be worse than I predicted. Oh Merci me. (Yes I know that is grammatically incorrect!)
PREDICTION: Paris Saint-Germain 4 Lyon 1
As I sweat through eight minutes of stoppage time at Anfield, I hope you enjoy the day's European football supplement to football of the American variety. I'll be back next week with more picks and hopefully introduce a new league to the fold. Follow all the action along with me @TREVORutley and the site @B3WHYC3 on Twitter. Crack open a beer, fuck technology, and have at it!