Welcome to Europe! After a five year absence we are back in continental competition this evening as we visit Atromitos F.C. of Athens.
A string away performance will go a long way to ensuring safe passage into the group stages of the Europa League but, as we’ve seen so often, nothing can be decided until the final ball is kick at the end of the second leg.
Of course Newcastle fans should be well aware of that little fact after what turned out to be our final trip into Europe before our five year exile. Having beaten AZ Alkmaar 4-2 in the home leg back in the 2006-2007 UEFA Cup, we then transpired to lose the away leg 2-0 and found ourselves out of the competition on the away goals rule after drawing 4-4 on aggregate over the two ties.
To get past Atromitos Alan Pardew is looking increasingly likely to depend on a largely second string United side, with names such as Fabricio Coloccini, Demba Ba and Cheik Tiote all left at home to ensure that they are ready for our game less than 48 hours later against Chelsea.
My match preview was written prior to confirmation regarding who was to be left behind on Tyneside so we can scrub Haris Vuckic (also left behind) from my predicted stab at a starting line up.
TV coverage is scarce and none of the “big hitters” like ITV 4 (sarcasm intended) have picked up the match. However, “Premier Sports” on Sky channel 428 are advertising the game but you have to subscribe. A quick little look has revealed that if you input the word “NEWCASTLE” as a promotional code you can get two months access for £9.99.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy and you can find it somewhere, like perhaps on the internet, then please feel free to accidentally post a link to it in our ‘comments’ section below. Be warned though, streams might be harder to come by as there are new ways for broadcasters to identify live broadcasts and shut them down. Maybe…
Team news, as always, will be added below as and when it becomes available.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Steve Harper; James Tavernier, Mike Williamson, James Perch, Ryan Taylor; Gael Bigirimana, Vurnon Anita; Gabriel Obertan, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux; Papiss Cisse
Subs: Tim Krul, Davide Santon, Steven Taylor, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Romain Amalfitano, Adam Campbell