Here’s what’s happening in the weekend and week leading up to Christmas. All times are CST. Add or subtract accordingly.
Friday the 18th – 1:30 PM Union Berlin – Borussia Dortmund (ESPN+): With Mauricio Pochettino unlikely to step in for departed Dortmund manager Lucien Favre, this is as good a time as any to see what interim coach Edin Terzić is up to. Union are having a fine season thanks in no small part to summer signing Max Cruse, and will be much stiffer opposition than were Werder Bremen at midweek.
Saturday the 19th – 6:00 AM Crystal Palace – Liverpool (NBCSN): It’s what’s on, and Liverpool are one of the best teams in the world, so you can’t complain too much.
9:00 AM Manchester City – Southampton (NBCSN) or 9:15 AM Barcelona – Valencia (BeIN Sports): Choose between watching Pep Guardiola’s current struggling giant, or his former struggling giant.
11:30 AM Bayer Leverkusen – Bayern Munich (ESPN+): With the aspirin-makers leading the Bavarian giants by a point at the top of the table, there’s no question where your eyes should be. An excellent follow-up to this midweek’s Premier League showdown.
1:45 PM Parma – Juventus (ESPN+) or OGC Nice – Olympique Lyonnais (BeIN Sports): Another pick-’em.
Sunday the 20th – 6:00 AM Stade Brestois – Montpellier Herault (BeIN SportsXTRA): I know you’re skeptical, but 1) all the other games are equally sad, and 2) Brest is one of the more entertaining teams you haven’t watched this season. Seriously, they are like a poor Frenchman’s Atalanta–or at least, Sassuolo. Or at least, early-season 2019-20 Norwich City. Check them out. If you don’t feel like waking up for this one, you might catch the rebroadcast, 10:00 AM on Monday, Dec. 21st.
8:00 AM Sassuolo – AC Milan (ESPN+): I know a lot of you will opt for the similarly important Tottenham Hotspur – Leicester City (8:15 AM on NBCSN), but think about it this way: which would you actually rather watch, José Mourinho coaching Harry Kane or Gennaro Gattuso coaching Zlatan Ibrahimović? Also, Sassuolo IS the best team in Europe that you haven’t watched (that is, unless you haven’t watched Bayer Leverkusen).
10:30 AM Manchester United – Leeds United (NBCSN): I’ve said it before, and I’ll surely say it again. You should never miss Leeds United. In this case, that means giving up Atalanta – Roma (11:00 AM on ESPN+), which could also be quite good. Life is full of difficult decisions. Try to make the right ones this Sunday.
2:00 PM Lille LOSC – Paris Saint-Germain (BeIN SportsXTRA): With Neymar injured, this is an excellent opportunity for 1st-place Lille to extend their one point lead on domestic giants PSG. Surely, that’s what we all want. If tragedy strikes and PSG jump out to an insurmountable lead, you can always switch over and catch the end of Lazio – Napoli (1:45 PM on ESPN+). Lille – PSG will also be rebroadcast at 5:00 PM on BeIN Sports.
Monday the 21st – 11:30 AM Burnley – Wolverhampton Wanderers (NBCSN): It’s what’s on, y’all. Don’t blame me.
2:00 PM Chelsea – West Ham United (NBCSN): This could actually be a decent game, if you don’t have to go to work this week.
Tuesday the 22nd – 10:30 AM Valencia – Sevilla (BeIN Sports): This isn’t a terrible opener for the big midweek games to follow.
12:45 AM Real Sociedad – Atlético Madrid (BeIN Sports): A game in hand to Real Madrid makes it slightly dodgy, but at the moment these are the top two sides in La Liga, and this should be an excellent game. I hope you can work out some sort of two screen set-up, though, or you will have a Sophie’s choice for the second half . . .
2:00 PM Arsenal – Manchester City (ESPN+): The Carabao Cup pits struggling student Mikel Arteta against his struggling master, Pep Guardiola. Is there any chance of goals? And yet, there’s something deeply compelling about this potential non-event. At least it’s a cup tie, which means someone has to win . . .
Wednesday the 23rd – 11:30 AM Hellas Verona – Internazionale (ESPN2): Unless you really want to watch Getafe – Celta de Vigo (10:30 AM on BeIN Sports), it’s what’s on.
2:00 PM Everton – Manchester United (ESPN+): More Carabao Cup fun in a particularly congested pre-Christmas window. If this doesn’t suit your fancy, AC Milan – Lazio (1:45 PM on ESPN+) is probably the best of the other 13 games playing in this time slot.
And that’s it until Boxing Day. If you need a live game for Christmas Eve, the Turkish Super League is probably on BeIN Sports (though not a big match-up), while Christmas Day will send you looking for the Argentine second division. Have a happy holidays, and I’ll be back with advice on the window from Boxing Day to New Year’s.