Newcastle 2-1 Athletic Bilbao: More pre-season positives as Toon win game of two halves

A successful end to pre-season as Newcastle United won their second game in as many days on Tyneside, overcoming Athletic Bilbao 2-1 thanks to goals from Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin.

The 47,000 inside St James’ Park – an incredible attendance for a summer friendly – were treated to a superb first half display, seeing us dominate possession, enjoyed sustained periods of pressure, press relentlessly and play some lovely stuff as the La Liga side struggled to cope with our intensity both on and off the ball.

Wilson gave us the lead just five minutes in. After some great approach play from Saint-Maximin and a clever flick from Matt Ritchie, our fit-again number nine finished emphatically, barging his man off the ball before firing into the far corner with his left foot. It was Wilson at his best and great to see the striker looking sharp after he struggled against Benfica on Tuesday night.

Bruno Guimaraes ran the show in the opening 45. If it wasn’t his sensational passing, clever flicks or silky turns that had St James’ Park on their feet, it was his non-stop pressing and perfectly timed tackles that had fans chanting his name. He really did look a level above the rest at times – which is saying something when so many played well in that first half!

Fellow Brazilian Joelinton was also a battering ram and covering every blade of grass alongside the equally mobile Joe Willock, with Saint-Maximin also a menace down the left, releasing the ball a little quicker after beating his man and working hard in the other direction to help out Paul Dummett.

The Frenchman got his reward in the second half, latching onto a Joelinton through ball, bursting infield and slotting home superbly before doing a few back flips as the Gallowgate End erupted. I don’t know what was better, the run, finish or acrobatic celebration!

I loved just about everything I saw from Sven Botman. He’s not only an absolute giant who won everything in the air, but moved gracefully on the ground, barely misplaced a pass and is clearly no slouch, either. Early days, obviously, yet it felt like we were watching a Rolls Royce centre-back.

We struggled defensively in the second half, with Bilbao often getting in down the flanks, but the big Dutchman was regularly in position to cut out the danger as red and white shirts burst into the box.

For Bilbao’s goal, Dummett didn’t do enough to stop the cross and a back-peddling Emil Krafth was beaten in the air by Spanish veteran Raul Garcia. The Swede was one of many who looked pretty shattered in the closing stages, with some still adjusting to our new pressing game and SEVEN friendlies in the space of a month!

The visitors hit the post soon after and had chances to make it 2-2, but we held on in the end, appearing to tire after a sensational, high-intensity first half display we’ll be looking to replicate when Nottingham Forest come to town next weekend.

Matty Bondswell got another cameo, replacing Dummett for the final 20 minutes, while Matty Longstaff, Lucas De Bolle and Mexican loanee Santiago Munoz also appearing for the last few minutes.

Howe will be wary of the way our levels dropped in the final half an hour, however it was another great workout against a capable side, featuring several confidence boosting displays, no injuries and just shy of 88,000 supporters at St James’ Park. If anything sums up the buzz around to city ahead of the new season, it’s that last line! Incredible.

Here’s today’s starting XI and subs, followed by full highlights courtesy of Athletic Bilbao’s official Twitter account, featuring Wilson and Saint-Maximin’s goals, Raul Garcia’s header and some late chances the Spaniards spurned:

STARTING XI: Dubravka – Krafth, Lascelles, Botman, Dummett – Willock, Guimaraes, Joelinton – Ritchie, Wilson, Saint-Maximin.

SUBSGillespie, M.Longstaff (89), De Bolle (89), Munoz (90), Bondswell (70), Stephenson, Turner-Cooke, A.Murphy, L.Miley.

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan, he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC!

108 thoughts on “Newcastle 2-1 Athletic Bilbao: More pre-season positives as Toon win game of two halves

  1. Also Sharpster: you know what my view has been all along, that the 60 mil budget was a bluff to gormless journos and we always intended to spend 125-150 mil to get us top 6.


  2. I understand why people think we should be higher than 8th, but I think Howe and the team played above and beyond in the 2nd half of last season – similar to Willocks impact the season before.
    Teams will have a better understanding of how we set up & what Howe is doing with us next season.

    Everyone is entitled to their expectations, but I’ll stick with 8th being a good season – above that very good. But I think competing with Wolves, Villa and Leicester for those 8-10 spots is where I expect us to be this season – kicking on again the following season.

    I’d happily be wrong though if we are above that 🤷🏼‍♂️👍🏻.


  3. Eric – the golf is different. LIV are their own organisation, similar to the PGA in that they can set their own rules.
    No doubting the wealth of the Saudis – they don’t need to pay Woods £700m to prove that. But the fact they can is because they set their own rules.
    Them owning NUFC is them operating within an organisation and operating within the rules others set. We have lots of room to work once we increase the revenue coming into the club, but that will take time.
    We could have been more aggressive if we sacked off Castore and FUN88 but we have honoured contracts to give time to get everything else in place – a wise move imo.
    But it has left us a little wanting this window – hence the loan.

    But at the same time, other clubs will improve too. I think Spurs, Arsenal & WH have done some great business to far this window.

    City & Liverpool have only pulled further away with their recruitment.

    Chelsea seem a bit irrational with their transfers & Man Utd seem to be struggling to get started.

    Villa and Wolves haven’t done much and LC might find themselves slightly weaker than last season with having to sell & players wanting out.


  4. My reluctance to see beyond 8th is we finished -18 in our goal difference last season, only scoring around 40 goals.

    Arsenal as a comparison were +13. That’s over 30 goal swing we need to make up on them & they have already strengthened both their defence & attack this window.

    We are yet to add any improvement to our forward options – aren’t even close to one at the minute.

    We may get Cornet, who would be an improvement on Miggy, Fraser & Murph imo – he could contribute to 15 goals (either score or assist).
    But as things stand he could be going to WH who were +8 last season & have strengthened up front already – he would just pull them further away.

    But let’s say we get Cornet – good addition. His back up would still be Miggy, Murph or Fraser – same with ASM. Wilson’s back up as it stands is Wood – the drop off in quality from strongest 11 to back up is still to great to make a meaningful challenge on the top 6 imo.


  5. Well I started with David’s details again today & just come on there to find PremAndup has snuck in there now 😡


  6. Stories linking Cornet with wet spam now. 😳😡. I thought that one would be relatively easy assuming we wanted him, as we already have Bruno and a few ex Burnley players. We are linked with a billion players and nothing seems to be coming forth. Still, hopeful though. 😬😬


  7. I can’t get my head round the fact we’ve already been shopping at Burnley this window and brought in Pope – why the hell didn’t we pick up Cornet at that point???.

    I really can’t understand what the hold up is in us doing our business – not when Spurs, Arsenal & WH are all cracking on.

    Chelsea’s new owners seem to be slashing the cash as well – he’s no richer than our boys, so can’t get the FFP there either – they haven’t sold anyone that I can think off – not to free up the kind of spending they are doing.


  8. The Chronic are suggesting we might send Dubz to Leicester as a makeweight in a Maddison deal. That hardly ever happens. However, I think a front line of Maxi, Wilson and Maddison would get us a lot more goals than last year. Along with Bruno, you are giving the opposition much more to think about. The main beneficiary will be Maxi. He was always triple teamed whenever he got the ball and hacked down on the half way line (especially by West Ham).

    Maxi seems to be looking to pass more under Eddie and the gang. The cabbage always had him trying to take on the whole opposition and all they had to do was cut him down.


  9. Seems like FFP only effects us going off the spending of other clubs, considering the fatman never opened his wallet much aside from Joelinton we must have a fair bit of wiggle room surely ?
    We are meant to have a top negotiating team now so why is it taking all window to get a forward in ?


  10. Looking at the new season and finishing positions. Predicting placings.
    1st and 2nd City and Liverpool are still streets ahead of everybody else.
    2nd to 6th places in Europe; Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and Spurs in no particular order
    7th to 9th chasing Europe and failing ManU, Villa, West Ham
    10th to 13th Mid table; Brighton. Palace, Leicester and Wolves
    14th to 18th Relegation fight one of whom to be relegated; Brentford, Everton, Fulham, Leeds and Southampton
    19th & 20th; Doomed; Bournemouth and Forest
    Each band in alphabetic order, not finishing order


  11. Apparently we had a big transfer meeting last week – can’t understand why? – surely the targets were set & the window is about getting them in now?!.

    I wonder if we know we’ve got no choice but to wait & get the players the likes of Arsenal & Chelsea are getting rid of – they know we aren’t signing Maddison but the bid looks good.


  12. Staveley has come out saying we’ll sign at least 2 more before the window closes – should be assuring right?. But to me at least 2 is no good if we need 3. Also, to commit to signing at least 2 – will they be 2 first choice signings are 3rd or 4th options??.

    We aren’t close at the minute, and are sat watching clubs going for those top 6-8 spots signing forwards left, right & centre.

    Maybe Scamacca & Cornet weren’t on our list – my question would be why??. These are bl00dy good players – better than what we have that’s for sure – and it seems we can’t get who we might have wanted so we should be signing good players who are available – or at least trying to. WH seem to be doing it with ease!!.


  13. My current guesses for transfers – they change daily, ha,ha:

    Madisson – we are not far off the Leicester valuation. Probably cost 50 mil.

    Hudson-Odoi on loan. Chelsea have too many forwards. I wanted Werner but I think his wages would be a problem even though they shouldnt be.

    NOT Paqueta. I think he would be at NUFC already if he was coming. I think he wants CL.


  14. There are more ads on this site now than players we’ve been linked with. 😂😂😬


  15. Eric – I think our incomings will be from Chelsea and/or Arsenal – I expect 2 and I think they will be loan to buy deals later in the window.

    I think the Maddison deal will only happen if he pushes for it & now the club have £85m to spend I think the lad will wait to see how they spend it.
    If they keep getting rid of players like Tielmanns, then I think he will say ‘s0d this’ and push for an out. But if they get someone half decent, he may well stay.

    I think we’ll find ourselves with a couple of players Chelsea/Arsenal don’t want anymore.


  16. I think a giant meteorite must have hit earth and threw it off its axis because I had a quick look on Eds and they are not bickering and are instead talking about football. It’s a new season miracle and I hope it continues.


  17. As much as I think Schar played well under Howe I think Burn was better. The consensus seems to be BDB will make way for Botman. I hope not. I think he is better than Schar.

    I want the Land of the Giants back 3 of Pope, Botman and BDB. I just want to see how other teams would set up for corners against that. I think Pope is 6-6, Botman 6-5 and BDB 6-7.


  18. Eric – of the 3 CBs, BDB seems the most commanding- a leader at the back. I don’t know enough about Botman yet in that respect.

    I think Botman is a better defender than Schar – but which one is the better on the ball? – I know Schar is comfortable with the ball at his feet – can run with it, dribble & hit a decent pass.

    Schar may play against the likes of Forest at home, then Botmans stronger defending against the better teams.


  19. Arsenal and Chelsea will be getting rid of a number of players by the end of the window I reckon. We aren’t getting our main targets, but of the players I think they’ll get rid of, are there 2 or 3 that would strengthen our squad and push us up the table:


    Cedric (30)
    Bellerin (27)
    Maitland Niles (24)
    Pepe (27)
    Reiss Nelson (22)


    Ampadu (21)
    Loftus Cheek (26)
    Barkley (28)
    Gilmour (21)
    Pulisic (23)
    Hudson Odi (21)
    Werner (26)
    Broja (20)
    Batshuayi (28)

    I’m listing these purely on opinion of who I think will be available rather than who I think we should be looking to sign.

    I’d also be looking at who I think would be better than what we have rather than comparing them with who we’ve been linked with.

    There is certainly 3 who I would at least loan – loan to buy there.


  20. Whenever I watched BDB at Brighton I thought who is this guy! He is the size of a Moose but moves like a Gazelle. I would hate to see him dropped.


  21. In an ideal world I would buy Pulisic for 70 mil but I dont this Chelsea would sell him.


  22. Eric Sykes:
    Sharpy: Chelsea just have too many forwards so I think we could borrow Hudson-Odoi.

    theres talk hes two stone overweight and not even trying to get fit,leave mate hes a lazy B


  23. thing that beats me about Forrest is they have bought 13 new players how can they get them to gel such a short time,lets watch and see i have grave doubts for them


  24. Forrest have 13 new players how can they gel in such short time,i have my doubts lets watch and see


  25. Ice/Eric – I think there is some real wasted British talent on that list.

    I think Maitland Niles is decent player. Nelson could be a decent player too given the chance – similar to Willock I guess.

    I think Ampadu (Welsh) has talent as a CB or DCM. Gilmour (Scottish) can play, and would suit a 3 man midfield – good Shelvey replacement I reckon.
    Loftus Cheek – I was surprised to see he’s as old as 26. He’s a very good player who’s wasting his career at Chelsea.
    Hudson Odi feels like he’s wasting his career too. It must be disheartening when his move to Munich was blocked – thinking he has a bright future at Chelsea only to see them KEEP buying players for big move. I guess it’s for him to knuckle down & force his way in, but then he gets used as a RB 🤷🏼‍♂️.
    If he doesn’t feel he can progress then he should be looking to leave – but like RLC I don’t see it.

    I still think we have a chance of Broja mind.

    Of the others – Pepe is a puzzler. There must be a player in there & he was good at Lille – maybe the fee and the weight of expectation crippled him a bit. He joined Arsenal at a bad time too I think.

    I think a full back like Trips would help him a lot if he came – but he wouldn’t be my first choice.

    Batshuyi nose dived when he moved to Chelsea – would he be more clinical than Wood? – nothing more than a season loan as a last resort for me though.


  26. Ice – I agree but what I think they’ve done well is recruit players who either have PL or English football experience.

    I’ve been quite impressed with both there’s & Fulhams additions to be fair.

    It’s Leeds I question with regards to newbies. A lot of German based players he’s brought in which I know he will have seen from his time out there – but can they play the PL??.

    I think the relegation battle could be very interesting this year.


  27. I could see us signing Dieng. I watched a bit of him in the ACONs and he’s a raw talent.

    I’d still favour Broja I think though.


  28. Just watched a clip on YouTube from SSN transfer talk – I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to though jacamo wearing geezers – but it was on about where would Maddison fit in.

    They had a heat map of where he does a lot of his work in 90 mins and it was very right sided 😳 I thought he was more central – but actually it cover the area we desperately need address. Made more sense why we are going after him – and boy those lads looked sharp!! 😎


  29. Good to see Eddie has signed a long contract – but I think that is the club saying this is going to take maybe 3 seasons to get our sponsorship & commercial side of things in a place where we can truly mix it with the big boys – Howe is our man through that period.


  30. Sharpy17:
    Good to see Eddie has signed a long contract – but I think that is the club saying this is going to take maybe 3 seasons to get our sponsorship & commercial side of things in a place where we can truly mix it with the big boys – Howe is our man through that period.

    it’s great he’s signed.

    My first thought was it’s protection for compo when England come calling after they offload Southgate. That could be as early as December if WC goes badly or tie in nicely after euros in 24

    Oh and I got the dreaded details auto fill with your info


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