Just three days after returning to ways against Wigan, Alan Pardew must prepare his side for the final group game of our Europa League campaign.
Both sides have already qualified for the final 32 of the competition but there is still the issue of which of the two sides will finish top of the group and gain a seeded spot in the draw for the next round.
It’s pretty simple and there is only one permutation that will see United come out as group winners, and that means that we have to win on French soil – something we’ve only managed once in our history. Anything else and it will be Bordeaux who take top spot and will play either a team who qualified in second in their respective Europa League group or one of the four sides with the worst qualifying record that drop down from the Champions League.
The draw for the next round will take place on December 20th with both the draw for the last 32 and last 16 taking place at the same time. Two teams from the same country can’t be paired together in the final 32 but they can meet in the final 16. I think that just about covers it but just to confirm:
Finish 1st in the group and we’ll play one of the teams that finished second in a Europa League or one of four sides with the worst qualifying record that drop down from the Champions League.
Finish 2nd in the group and we’ll face a group winner from the Europa League of one of the four sides with the better qualifying record that drop down from the Champions League.
Newcastle have a whole host of injuries to contend with although a lot of them will more than likely be irrelevant given the nature of the teams we’ve been fielding in this competition.
Demba Ba and Davide Santon both limped out of the game on Monday and although neither injury is serious they are unlikely to be risked. Hatem Ben Arfa is another who won’t be risked but should be available for the trip Fulham on Monday.
Steven Taylor, Yohan Cabaye, Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic, Gabriel Obertan, Ryan Taylor, Adam Campbell and Remi Streete are all sidelined also leaving a pool of registered players of roughly 22 players. Cheik Tiote is also being reported as having fitness concerns.
Match stats and facts…
This will be our 128th European fixture. We’ve won 72 of them scoring 217 goals along the way.
Newcastle won 4-0 the last time we competitively played in France. That game was against Sochaux in the 2004/2005 season. Our record on French soil stands at six games played, one win, two draws and three defeats.
Again we are likely to see a reshuffled team in an attempt to cope with injury and fixture congestion. the good thing is that this is the last European game for a few months so the pressure on the fixture list will ease somewhat.
I expect to see a number of changes with Rob Elliot probably replacing Tim Krul in goal, James Tavernier and Shane Ferguson at right and left back respectively with Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini in the centre of defence.
In midfield I’d expect to see something involving the likes of Gael Bigirimana, Sammy Ameobi, Sylvain Marveau and Vurnon Anita with Papiss Cisse up front. Something like that anyway. Basically a team which involves youth and reserve players where we can afford to do so.
It would be nice to finish top of the group but I don’t think it really matters. We’re going to need to beat good teams if, as Alan Pardew says, we’re trying to win the thing so why be fussed about playing the so-called better teams now? We’ll have to beat them at some point anyway…
All I want to see is an improvement in performance again along with avoiding a defeat. If that happens then I’ll be happy enough.
Howay the lads!
Date: Thursday, 6th December, 2012
Time: 6pm – UK time
Venue: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeuax