Christmas week brings some big games in Italy, Spain and France, plus opportunities for upsets in English and German cup competitions. There’s also the Concacaf Champions League final, in which Los Angeles FC attempts to become the first MLS team to win the title in its current form.
Here’s your viewer’s guide to the top games to watch.
Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
England’s Carabao Cup usually doesn’t matter all that much, especially compared to the FA Cup and league competitions. But it counts for these two teams. Brentford is one of two non-Premier League teams left in this season’s tournament, which is now at the quarterfinals. Newcastle, featuring Miguel Almiron, hasn’t won a trophy of consequence since 1969.
Tuesday, 1:45 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
After racing to the top of La Liga in November, Real Sociedad has fallen to third thanks to a five-game winless streak -- including back-to-back losses in the last week at Levante and Barcelona. Atletico has taken advantage, climbing up to first place. Luis Suarez has delivered with seven goals in nine league games, and young phenom Joao Felix continues to be outstanding.
Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. (ESPN+)
The last games before German soccer’s annual winter break come in the second round of the German Cup. Elversberg is the best Cinderella story in the field, a fourth-tier team from southwest Germany that took down second-division St. Pauli in the first round. Now Elversberg gets to host a team that’s not just one of the Bundesliga’s titans, but a club -- and manager Horst Steffen knows well. He played for Monchengladbach from 1991-93.
Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. (ESPN+)
Fresh off winning the U.S. men’s national team’s player of the year award, Weston McKennie steps into one of Italy’s most famous old rivalry games. McKennie’s Juventus hasn’t lost since Oct. 28. Fiorentina, alas, is down in 16th place in Serie A.
Tuesday, 10 p.m. (FS2, TUDN)
LAFC’s win over Club America on Saturday was one of the most electric games in Concacaf Champions League history. Not only did Carlos Vela lead a second-half comeback in the 3-1 win, but each side had a player red-carded, and America manager Miguel Herrera was ejected after brawling with LAFC assistant Ante Razov. On top of that, Herrera was fired on Monday.
Vela’s team has now ousted Mexican titans Leon, Cruz Azul and America in order, an unprecedented feat for a MLS team in the CCL. Tigres, led by superstar striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, will be the toughest test of all, and LAFC will be without key midfielder Eduard Atuesta. But Tigres announced Monday that Gignac and fellow star Javier Aquino are battling muscle injuries. How serious are they? We’ll find out when the lineups are announced.
Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. (ESPN+)
Milan continues to top the Serie A table, but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic still out injured, things are getting precarious. Crosstown rival Inter is just a point back in second, and visits Verona earlier Wednesday (12:30 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes). With Serie A heading into its winter break after these games, Wednesday’s results will linger for a while.
Wednesday, 3 p.m. (beIN Sports Connect)
Ligue 1 also heads into its winter break after all 20 teams play a round of games Wednesday. Lille held on to first place by holding PSG to a scoreless tie on Wednesday, and Lyon tied Lille atop the standings with a 4-1 rout of Nice on Saturday.
All three contenders play at the same time, with Lyon hosting Nantes (beIN Sports Connect) and Lille visiting Montpellier (beIN Sports Xtra). But the spotlight will be on PSG, and not just because of its star players. If the three-time reigning champions don’t win, manager Thomas Tuchel could be fired.