Benfica are having a fantastic season and they are top pf the Portuguese League and unbeaten in their 24 games, of which they have won a massive 20, and they have won their last five league games. scored 15 goals in their last three games and conceded one.
Krul after his last game – at Metalist Karkhiv – where he was brilliant
The famous Lisbon side are coming off a 6-1 homes win against Rio Ave, whereas Newcastle are coming of one of their worst performances of the season, a 4-0 on the road hammering at Manchester City.
So conventional wisdom would seem to favor the home side tomorrow night, but you never know with Newcastle, especially when our lads have something to prove, which they do after Saturday’s demolition.
Celtic played Benfica in the group stages of the Champions League earlier in the season, and they did quire well drawing 0-0 at home and only losing 2-1 away at the Estádio da Luz, which has a capacity of over 65,000.
So it seems Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been a good source of information for Alan Pardew and his coaching staff about Benfica.
This is what the Newcastle manager said today:
“We have good contacts regarding this team. I know this city quite well and I have some contacts here who know Benfica well. There is also Neil Lennon who we have been in contact with. I think it is important to get as much information as you can – as I’m sure Benfica have done with us.”
“It is a big test for us because I think with any team that is on such a roll as Benfica, it is going to be difficult,” “They have great momentum and that confidence breeds its own success. But I think at St James’ Park we can beat anybody – we have no doubt about that game.”
“Here, we need to put on a performance so we can take something back to give us a chance in the second leg.” “It will be difficult to contain them if we come here just to defend. I think both teams are good in possession and therefore, that will be a key element.”
The good news is that Benfica have been beaten at home in the Champions League this season – by Barcelona – so that should give Newcastle some hope – maybe.
But Newcastle have quite a strong squad in Portugal, with only Cheick Tiote and Massadio Haidara not in the squad who were expected to travel.
But they could both be ready for the Premier League home game against Fulham on Sunday, which is an important game.
We expect Newcastle to attack Benfica tomorrow night, at least on the break, and we cannot just defend against such an excellent attacking team, and we need to keep them honest at the back.
Tim Krul will definitely start tomorrow night, as that’s what the manager has been telling the traveling reporters, even after Rob has played so well in Tim’s absence, and was our Man of the Match on Saturday with 40% of the vote.
And we also expect Davide Santon to start – and so that’s a couple of players Pardew has back after Saturday’s defeat, and Sylvain Marveaux could also start, after recovering form a slight groin injury.
It should be a good game tomorrow night, but Newcastle will have to be somewhere near their best to get anything out of this first leg, and of course an away goal would be good.
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org