Newcastle-Benfica Preview: Hosts' Europa League hopes hang in the balance
Alan Pardew's side head into the second leg of their quarter-final tie against the Portuguese outift needing to overturn a two-goal deficit to progress to the next round
By James McManus
Simpson, Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gutierrez
Marveaux, Sissoko, Gouffran
Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo
John, Lima, Gaitan
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew faces a lengthy absentee list ahead of Thursday's crunch Europa League clash, with Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Mathier Debuchy (cup-tied), Davide Santon (hip), Cheikh Tiote (hamstring) and Haris Vuckic (knee) all set to miss the game.
Elsewhere, long-term absentee Ryan Taylor is targeting a return in time for the derby game against Sunderland on Sunday, but Fabricio Coloccini and Massadio Haidara are for a place on the bench against the Portuguese outfit after suffering from back and knee strains respectively.
Benfica boss Jorge Jesus faces very few injury worries ahead of the return leg, with Eduardo Salvio remaining a doubt after picking up a knee problem shortly prior to the first leg between the two sides.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Newcastle have beaten Metalist Kharkiv and Anzhi Makhachkala in the knockout stages so far, both by a solitary 1-0 aggregate scoreline.
- Papiss Cisse has now scored four goals in the 90th minute this season after his last-gasp winner against Fulham.
- The Senegal striker, along with Shola Ameobi, is the Magpies' top scorer in the Europa League with three goals each.
- Alan Pardew's side have conceded just once at home in six games in the competition this term - that goal coming during the 1-1 draw with Maritimo in November.
- Oscar Cardozo (pictured right) is Benfica's top goalscorer this year with 28 goals, six of which have come in Europe.
- The Portuguese outfit have scored 107 goals so far this season in all competitons.
- They currently sit four points clear ahead of Porto at the top of the domestic league and are unbeaten in 25 games since the start of the season.
- Jorge Jesus' side have won their last eight games in a row going into the clash.
- Benfica's last five quarter-finals against English opposition have all resulted in elimination.
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Top 3 Predictions
Newcastle 1-2 Benfica
- 16.31 %
Newcastle 2-0 Benfica
- 15.23 %
Newcastle 2-1 Benfica
- 10 %
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Apr 11, 2013||Newcastle 1 - Benfica 1|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Apr 4, 2013||Benfica 3 - Newcastle 1|
|Apr 19, 2014||Newcastle 1 - Swansea 2||EPL|
|Apr 12, 2014||Stoke 1 - Newcastle 0||EPL|
|Apr 5, 2014||Newcastle 0 - Man Utd. 4||EPL|
|Mar 29, 2014||Southampton 4 - Newcastle 0||EPL|
|Mar 25, 2014||Newcastle 0 - Everton 3||EPL|
|10||Hatem Ben Arfa||Midfielder|
|20||Osvaldo Nicolás Fabián Gaitán||Midfielder|
|35||Enzo Nicolás Pérez||Midfielder|
|33||Jardel Nivaldo Vieira||Defender|
With Fabricio Coloccini struggling for full fitness ahead of the fixture, the raw France international needs to be on top of his game for his side to stand any chance of progression. He can sometimes appear positionally unaware of his surroundings, so with such a fluid attacking unit up against him he'll need to up his game.
Absolutely deadly in front of goal, the 29-year-old Paraguay international has scored over 100 league goals for the club in just under six seasons. The unerring accuracy with which he finds the target means he must be paid close attention to at all times, particularly when he's operating inside the box.
Stopping the visitors from scoring is going to prove Newcastle's biggest task, with their free-flowing opponents posing a constant threat on the break with the clinical figure of Cardozo up front. They may have to throw caution to the wind, though, with a two-goal deficit to overturn - so expect a game full of goals, but also broken hearts for the English side.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed