I'm getting a very late jump here on the picks today. First, the FA Cup has been going on all morning. As a Liverpool fan, I've been sitting around trying to lump more poor souls into my contingent of despair that is the cup replay. So far I've Shang Tsung'ed only West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa, the equivalent of picking on your smaller relatives in a game of basketball. Sheffield United, you're my only hope. But FA Cup foolishness aside, we still have a pretty decent schedule to work with today across Europe. A trio of games starts in France where one of the league's hottest commodities is on display.
FRENCH LIGUE 1
FC Girondins de Bordeaux vs Montpellier HSC (2:00 PM ET/beIN Sports 6)
I was originally going to pick the last game of the day from Ligue 1 featuring Lorient's Benjamin Moukandjo, the second leading scorer in Ligue 1 behind the almighty Zlatan. Low and behold, it is the only game from the Ligue 1 slate that isn't being broadcast in America. Cue sad trombone. Instead, we head to the Stade de Mosson in Montpellier where another player making waves will be playing. Wahbi Khazri has been profiled on the picks here before, so we'll leave his accolades there. Instead, let's talk about how his profile in the January transfer market continues to build. With the success of many a French import in other leagues (i.e. Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante at Leicester City), players thriving in Ligue 1 have become fashionable purchases. Celta Vigo and Aston Villa have made the most noticeable advances towards the Tunisian, but have been rebuffed by Bordeaux. Could Atletico Madrid be the final destination? Who knows, but he may even pop up on more radars if he adds to his tally of 11 goals created (5 scored, 6 assists) on the road. La Paillade were able to keep him at bay in Bordeaux in a 0-0 draw. I don't think lightning strikes twice. Khazri gets a helper and Bordeaux push Montpelier closer to the relegation zone.
PREDICTION: Bordeaux 1 Montpellier 0
SPANISH LA LIGA
Real Madrid CF vs Deportivo La Coruna (2:30 PM ET/beIN Sports)
No matter what any Barcelona fan wanted to say about this weekend's games in La Liga, there was no more important fixture than Zinedine Zidane's first game in charge of Real Madrid. He takes on a team that produced one of his most disappointing defeats as a player, Deportivo La Coruna. Deportivo were a force in Spanish in the early 2000's. The won the league, were Champions League semi-finalists, and beat the biggest Galacticos side of them all in the 2002 Copa Del Rey final at the Bernabeu. It was downhill for Depor from there with two relegations in the past five years. Under Victor Sanchez though, a man on the Deportivo side who won the Centenariazo, they've become European contenders again. Will Zidane exact his revenge against a man and team that caused so much anguish for him during his playing days? Or will his inexperience cloud the day and Los Blancos drop points that they can no longer afford to? They won't lose, but I doubt that Zidane will get his just satisfaction from the day's game. Madrid have needed a lot of luck to get their results of late, and they may get some more today as they eke out a win.
PREDICTION: Real Madrid 2 Deportivo La Coruna 1
ITALIAN SERIE A
AS Roma vs AC Milan (2:45 PM ET/beIN Sports 3)
Remember a time when this used to be a clash that all Italians would skip work for? It wasn't that long ago that Milan was a destination for superstars. Roma also produced a hefty chunk of the Italian national team themselves. While both teams struggle to find their past identities, they sit in the top half of the Serie A table. They are outside of the Champions League spots at the moment, and in all likelihood won't get there at any time in 2016. A loss today could mean the end of Rudi Garcia's managerial run at Roma or Sinisa Mihajlovic's half year tenure at Milan. While it is great for fans of lesser teams that these two powers continue to struggle, it isn't great for Serie A. A bad Roma and worse Milan means less cash flow from television deals and less eyes from casual observers towards Serie A. I want to pick this one as a draw to save both coaches for at least one more week, but I just can't do it. The Ultras finally get Rudi's head on a stake as AC Milan go into the Stadio Olimpico and get a messy win. Expect trash to be thrown.
PREDICTION: AC Milan 1 AS Roma 0
There is less FA Cup on tap for tomorrow. So expect a larger crop of picks. Get all your European football in before the NFL Playoffs start this afternoon! It is nearly 2:00 so you should already have a beer cracked. Follow along on Twitter @TREVORutley and @B3WHYC3 and until tomorrow, have at it!