Let me start by saying that my heart is with all of France and Paris after the horrible attacks of last Friday. May the return of league football be a much needed comfort and distraction.
- El Clasico – Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Saturday, November 21st – 12:15 pm EST on beIN Sports USA
This has been a date circled on many calendars across the world as the two biggest teams in Spain, if not the world, face off in the Madrid this Saturday. Barcelona is looking to maintain their spot on top of the league, but the buildup has been focused on Rafa Bentiez. He is under a lot of pressure, despite his team suffering their first loss of the season in their last match. His tactics have come under scrutiny and nothing but a win will be looked as a good result. Meanwhile, Barcelona is getting Mascherano back and Messi is close to returning. He has been training with the team this week but will most likely start from the bench. Barcelona has struggled defensively on the road. Can that come back to haunt them in Madrid? Look for a feisty game that could end with the two teams level after 90 minutes.
Match Result – Real Madrid 6/4, Barcelona 7/4, Draw 13/5
First Goalscorer – Ronaldo 10/3, Neymar 4/1, Messi 4/1
My Pick – Real Madrid 2, Barcelona 2: Goals by James, Ronaldo, Neymar, and Suarez
James’ Pick – Real Madrid 3, Barcelona 2: Goals by Benzema. Ronaldo, Bale, Suarez, and Neymar
- Manchester City vs. Liverpool, Ethiad Stadium, Manchester
Saturday, November 21st – 12:30 pm EST on NBC
The big game in England this weekend takes place in Manchester. Raheem Sterling faces his old club for the first time since he left in the summer, as Jurgen Klopp faces his second big test with a trip to the Ethiad. Manchester City has won the last two matches in Manchester as they look to stay at the top of the table. Liverpool will hope to rebound after suffering their first defeat under Jurgen Klopp. Liverpool looked very good at Chelsea under Klopp. Can they repeat the magic in Manchester? Sergio Aguero is back in contention to start, but may have to settle for a spot on the bench. Kompany, Silva, Nasri, Bony, Zabaleta, and Delph are all most likely out. Henderson is training but still out, Sakho is also out for two months now. James Milner could face City for the first time since his summer move. City is the stronger team and will be on the attack during the game. Look for them to take the game to Liverpool, but Liverpool will look to counter.
Match Result – Man City 7/10, Liverpool 9/2, Draw 3/1
First Goalscorer – Sergio Aquero 3/1, Iheanacho 5/1, De Bruyne 11/2
My Pick – Manchester City 2, Liverpool 2: Goals by Toure, Sterling, Benteke, and Coutinho.
James’ Pick – Manchester City 2, Liverpool 0: Goals by Sterling, and De Bruyne
- Saint-Etienne vs. Marseille, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne
Sunday, November 22nd – 3:00 pm EST on beIN Sports Connect
Two teams that were supposed to be fighting for the title are now looking to get into the race for a spot in Europe. Saint-Etienne is sitting 2 points behind 3rd place Nice and just 3 points behind Lyon who sit in second. Marseille are in the bottom half of the table. They have lost 6 games this season but won 3 in a row before their loss to Nice before the international break. Saint-Etienne should be confident coming into the game, as they are in much better form this season. They will also be looking to put the devastating derby loss to Lyon. This should be a really tight match with Saint-Etienne in control of the ball.
Match Result – St-Etienne 7/5, Marseille 21/10, Draw 9/4
First Goalscorer – Batshuayi 4/1, Beric 4/1, Roux 7/1
My Pick – St-Etienne 2, Marseille 1: Goals by Hamouma, Roux, and Batshuayi
James’ Pick – St-Etienne 2, Marseille 1: Goals by Roux, Hamouma, and Batshuayi
- Juventus vs. Milan, Juventus Stadium, Turin
Saturday, November 21st – 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports USA
Juventus have started to turn their season around lately, winning three of their last five games. They climbed to 7th in the table and are just 8 points back from a Champions League spot. This weekend they host Milan who struggled at the start. Milan has earned 11 points in their last 5 games to be in 6th place. A win for either team will take them one step closer to being in the title race. Juventus are trying to be in the race by the end of the year. Look for Juve to try to take control and send a signal to their rivals. They are almost back in the race and a win this weekend will make a nice statement. Lichsteiner and Buffon will face late fitness tests.
Match Result – Juventus 8/13, Milan 11/2, Draw 13/5
First Goalscorer – Mandzukic 15/4, Dybala 9/2, Morata 5/1
My Pick – Juventus 2, Milan 1: Goals by Dybala, Morata, and Cerci
James’ Pick – Juventus 2, Milan 1: Goals by Pogba, Dybala, and Bonaventura
- Schalke 04 vs. Bayern Munich, Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen
Saturday November 21st – 12:30 pm EST on Fox Soccer Plus
Schalke will bid to be the first team in Germany to take 3 points from Bayern Munich this weekend when the Bavarians travel to northern Ruhr. Munich has won three of the last four in Gelsenkirchen. They have a plus 33 goal differential in just 12 games and only conceded one away goal all season. Bayern is in a very good run of form and will look to dominate from the outset. Schalke need to improve their defensive shape if they are to take any points away from this game. This could be tough as Benedikt Howedes is still recovering from a hand injury. Johannes Geis is out suspended as well. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg could face his home club in his place. Schalke will hope they can keep it close and maybe get a point.
Match Result – Schalke 12/1, Munich 2/9, Draw 11/2
First Goalscorer – Lewandowski 12/5, Muller 15/4, Robben 4/1
My Pick – Schalke 0, Bayern 2: Goals by Muller and Lewandowski
James’ Pick – Schalke 0, Bayern 4: Goals by Lewandowski, Muller (2), and Costa
European Qualifiers Recap
Hungary was the first team to qualify for the Euros via the playoff as they beat Norway 1-0 in Oslo and then followed that up with a 2-1 win at home. The Republic of Ireland became the second team thanks to a great performance in Dublin by Jonathan Walters. He scored 2 goals to give them a 2-0 win. In Zenica, the teams drew 1-1. The next team to qualify was Sweden. They won the first leg 2-1 at home thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty. Then in Denmark, Ibrahimovic gave Sweden a 2 goal lead before Denmark scored two goals in the last 10 minutes. Sweden took the third ticket to France. Finally, Ukraine was the last team to advance thanks to their 2-0 home win and then a 1-1 draw in Maribor. The field is set and the draw is in a couple weeks on December 12th in Paris.
Other Games on TV This Weekend
England – Premier League
Watford vs. Manchester United – Saturday at 7:45 am EST on NBCSN
West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on USA
Chelsea vs. Norwich City – Saturday at 10:00 am EST on NBCSN
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United – Sunday at 11:00 am EST on NBCSN
Crystal Palace vs. Sunderland – Monday at 3:00 pm EST on NBCSN
Spain – La Liga
Getafe vs. Rayo Vallecano – Monday at 2:30 pm EST on beIN Sports
Italy – Serie A
Bologna vs. Roma – Saturday at 12:00 pm EST on beIN Sports
Hellas Verona vs. Napoli – Sunday at 6:30 am EST on beIN Sports
Fiorentina vs. Empoli – Sunday at 9:00 am EST on beIN Sports
Internazionale vs. Frosinone – Sundat at 2:45 pm EST on beIN Sports
Germany – Bundesliga
Wolfsburg vs. Werder Bremen – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Soccer Plus
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayer Leverkusen – Saturday at 9:30 am EST on Fox Sports 1
Hertha Berlin vs. Hoffenheim – Sunday at 9:00 am EST on Fox Sports 1
Ingolstadt vs. Darmstadt 98 – Sunday at 11:30 am EST on Fox Sports 2
France – Ligue 1
Rennes vs. Bordeaux – Sunday at 11:00 am EST on beIN Sports