I picked all three games right yesterday, but with varying degrees of accuracy. Manchester City did defeat Crystal Palace, but they doubled my predicted scoreline in an absolute massacre. I am still ruing not getting Wayne Hennessey out of my FPL lineup in time. PSG maintained their perfect record in Ligue 1 against Toulouse. However, a 1-0 trench warfare reenactment of a game was not what I expected. Italy was the only league that I had a decent pulse on. Napoli put up my predicted three goals against Sassuolo, but didn't keep a clean sheet in preserving their Scudetto pole position. We have some big games, including one I am hoping not to be a big jinx on, so let's jet off to the Netherlands to start with some Eredivisie action.
PSV Eindhoven vs Feyenoord Rotterdam (8:30 AM ET/Univision Deportes USA)
Our first trip to Holland in some time brings us a matchup of two of the league's most storied clubs. Both PSV and Feyenoord are former European champions and are regular participants in the Champions League. While being constantly stellar domestically, they act as an indirect feeder system to the biggest fish in world football with their youth development. Memphis Depay made the move from PSV to Manchester United this past summer, Gaston Pereiro could be the next export for Eindhoven. Lest we forget Feyenoord, who with a win today would leapfrog PSV in the table and become the main threat to leaders Ajax. They have their own wanted man in midfielder Tonny Vilhena who has been courted by the majority of the lower end of the Premier League and various clubs in Spain. Whether it be as a super sub or from the opening whistle, these two will have an impact on today's contest. In the end though, I think that PSV will add some distance between them and the final place on the Dutch medal stand.
PREDICTION: PSV Eindhoven 2 Feyenoord 1
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester United FC vs Liverpool FC (9:15 AM ET/NBC Sports)
My main event for the day comes really early as the rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool is renewed in the early Premier League game this morning. The Reds and the Red Devils collide at Anfield going in significantly different directions than just one month ago. At that time, Liverpool was flying high under Jurgen Klopp. They were getting positive results in all competitions and were playing with a flair that made a Liverpool fan like myself gleam ear to ear. Injuries have all but completely sapped that spirit as Liverpool have begun to stammer into a series of draws and losses that retarded their rise up the table. Conversely, Manchester United have started to notch some key wins, even if their football is the sporting equivalent of Ambien. Wayne Rooney still looks uncomfortable in Louis Van Gaal's system, but the leading scorer in English national team history is finding his clutch scoring feet in recent weeks for United. Both sides will be relatively unchanged as they prepare to kick off, which bodes best for United since Liverpool ran themselves ragged in the midweek to snatch a late point in a classic 3-3 game with Arsenal. Here is my dilemma: I want to pick United because I am a certified jinx. I also want to pick Liverpool because I truly think they can win. So, I am going to mark this down as a draw and just enjoy (and by enjoy I mean tensely listen to every nervy second) this one.
PREDICTION: Manchester United 2 Liverpool 2
SPANISH LA LIGA
FC Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao (2:30 PM ET/beIN Sports)
Barcelona will know the gap they face in the La Liga title chase this afternoon as they welcome Athletic Bilbao to the Camp Nou. Atletico Madrid plays the game directly before them at 12:15 against Las Palmas. Barcelona will also have the added incentive in this one to exact a measure of revenge against a team that pulled their proverbial pants down in the Spanish Super Cup. Bilbao won 4-0 then drew 1-1 for a commanding two leg victory. Sure Barcelona beat them 1-0 in their season opener, but this isn't a team that forgets a club that embarrasses them. Just ask Bayern Munich. Just ask Roma. Barcelona has a long memory and I think that Bilbao is going to pay for their "sins" this afternoon. Consider this to be a warning shot for when they face off again in the Copa Del Rey quarterfinals. Barcelona will be relentless against a team that while defensively sound, can fall into lulls sometimes when they can't get the ball. Nobody in the world is better at playing keep away than Barcelona and it will show. Barcelona wins convincingly, but Aritz Aduriz gets his consolation goal.
PREDICTION: Barcelona 4 Athletic Bilbao 1
ITALIAN SERIE A
AC Milan vs ACF Fiorentina (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports 3)
We close today's picks in Italy as the top of the table continues to go haywire. Napoli reaffirmed themselves as leaders yesterday, but former leaders Inter Milan once again stumbled in a draw with Atalanta. Juventus plays at 9:00 and could move within a point of Napoli, while Fiorentina has to wait until the afternoon to get their chance to put Inter Milan out of the Champions League places altogether. The only thing standing between the Viola and that goal is the other Milan club, AC Milan. It still seems weird to refer to AC Milan as the other Milan club because when I started getting into European football they were a world power on par with the Barcelonas, Bayern Munichs, and Real Madrids of the world. What has happened to the Rossoneri in the meantime is way too long a tale for a column like this so we'll just move back to the game at hand. With the game being at Milan's fabled San Siro, this one will be closer than it should be. It may not be the fortress of yesteryear, but Milan does play significantly better in front of their home fans. With that being said, I think that Fiorentina will do just enough to squeeze out a victory on the road. While I did just say he was going to lose, try to find a way to watch this one for 16 year old Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. He may just be the Italy #1 for the next twenty years when Buffon steps aside.
PREDICTION: Fiorentina 2 AC Milan 1
Enjoy the day's supplemental European football to your obvious American football watching schedule. Both sets of yesterday's games provided plenty of drama. I hope I can at least provide that on the European side with today's picks. Crack open that first beer of the day, find a comfy place to lounge, and have at it! Follow me over the course of the day on Twitter @TREVORutley (where I'll probably be hysterical about the Liverpool game) and @B3WHYC3 (where I will surely be more rational).