Newcastle take part in what could be their toughest game of the season to date when they take on Benfica in Lisbon this evening.
Our future in the Europa League is in the balance as we come up against a Benfica side who are in fine form and have no issues scoring goals.
Granted tonight is only one leg of this two-legged Quarter Final, but a decent result tonight is a must if we are to have anything to take back to St James’ Park next week. We simply mustn’t let the tie be out of sight by the end of 90 minutes this evening. We’ve got this far so let’s not get all “gung-ho” and blow it by being too cavalier. We need to be cleverer than that.
Possession is going to form an important part of our game plan tonight, or at least it should do. Frustrate them and play with purpose and patience and we might just surprise a few people who have this down as a defeat before a ball has even been kicked.
Having said that you can see why we are underdogs in this tie. Benfica have some cracking players and don’t have the pressure of a relegation battle looming over them. Instead they have the pressure of a league title to consider albeit in a significantly weaker league than the one we compete in.
The match preview has been up since yesterday and can be viewed here if you haven’t already had a peek at it. It features some updates on the injury front, confirmation of our 19-man-squad that we’ll form a team from tonight along with some interesting stats and facts.
The game is live on ITV4 this evening so watching it won’t be a problem for most. The best place to be is obviously in the ground along with the other 3,800 Mags, but the reality is that most of us aren’t there so if you’re not there and can’t watch it on ITV4 then please feel free to leave a link to any streams you may have stumbled upon in the ‘comments’ section below.
I’ll be doing the team news tonight which will be featured at the bottom of this article in full as and when I can get my grubby little hands on it.
And that’s that. Now it’s over to the real Stadium of Light to see just what happens. Being honest I’m not expecting much but we shall see I guess.
Howay the lads!
Benfica: Artur; Andre Almeida, Luisao, Ezequiel Garay, Lorenzo Melgarejo; Ola John, Nemanja Matic, Andre Gomes; Rodrigo, Oscar Cardozo, Nico Gaitan
Subs: Paulo Lopes, Roderick Miranda, Pablo Aimar, Lima, Maxi Pereira, Urreta, Enzo Perez
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Davide Santon; James Perch, Yohan Cabaye; Sylvain Marveaux, Moussa Sissoko, Jonas Gutierrez; Papiss Cisse
Subs: Rob Elliot, Mike Williamson, Dan Gosling, Vurnon Anita, Gabriel Obertan, Shola Ameobi, Adam Campbell