We would have been a lot more confident about tonight’s game against Benfica in Lisbon if Newcastle had played half-decent in our last game at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday – but we weren’t half-decent and in the first half we played just about as badly as we’ve played all season.
So the good thing is Newcastle have a lot to prove tonight, and we hope they will not start this game giving the Portuguese League leaders too much respect, as we did in that last game in Manchester.
Newcastle know all about Benfica who have a fantastic record this season – they are top of the Portuguese League with 64 points from 24 games, and remain unbeaten in the league, and they have won 10 games on the trot and their last defeat was back on Valentines Day.
Newcastle winger Yoan Gouffran had a mission to spy on Benfica when they played his former club Bordeaux, and this si what the Frenchman had to say about Benfica:
“I watched their last game in Bordeaux when they lost 3-2 in the second leg.” “Benfica are a quality team with very good players, for example Oscar Cardozo.”
“He has scored a lot of goals and is a danger – he scored twice against my old club in the second leg.” “We have to be very strong in Portugal to stop him.” “We must try not to concede. If we can get through that without conceding we can make up the difference here in Newcastle.”
“I have a lot of confidence in my team-mates. We are in with a chance. Everybody in the quarter-finals is. So we must keep going.”
But it’s a mistake to think that the Newcastle team will play like we did in that first half on Saturday, and we expect a much improved performance tonight, when we’ll have both Davide Santon and Tim Krul back in the side. But Masssadio Haidara and Cheick Tiote did not make the trip – but we hope they will be available for the important Fulham game at home in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
This is the 19 man squad Alan Pardew took to Lisbon on Tuesday afternoon – in alphabetical order:
Shola Ameobi, Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana, Yohan Cabaye, Adam Campbell, Papiss Cisse, Rob Elliot, Dan Gosling, Jonas Gutierrez, Tim Krul, Sylvain Marveaux, Gabriel Obertan, James Perch, Davide Santon, Danny Simpson, Moussa Sissoko, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Alan could have a few surprises for us in store tonight – but this could be the side that Alan Pardew starts tonight:
Simpson Taylor (S) Yanga-Mbiwa Santon
Marveuax Cabaye (c) Anita Gutierrez
Subs: Elliot Bigirimana Williamson Gosling Perch Obertan Ameobi (Sh)
That’s a decent side wand we expect Danny Simpson at right back to put in a much improved performance than he gave in Manchester and also Anita puts in a tidy display in defensive midfield in place of the injured Cheick Tiote.
The Newcastle fans don’t think we’ll do too well tonight.
Newcastle’s defense needs to put in a top performance tonight if we are going to get a dent result – and it would be great to score an away goal to set up for a fantastic night next Thursday night in the return at St. James’ Park, which will be a full house if the lads can get anything near a decent result tonight.
We could shock people tonight – we hope we will shock people tonight – stranger things have happened.
Howay The Lads!!
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org