Newcastle host Portuguese giants Benfica in the second leg of the quarter finals of the Europa League on Thursday. The Tyneside club are major underdogs going into the fixture, having lost the first leg 3-1 and face a daunting task to qualify for the semis over their celebrated opponents.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-Off is set for 8:05pm BST. Live coverage of the game will be available on ITV 4 and ITV 4 HD.
Newcastle qualified for the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win in aggregate over Russian Anzhi Makhachkala in the round of 16, with the Magpies drawing the away leg 0-0, but sneaked the tie owing to a late goal from Papiss Cisse in the second leg. The Europa League is manager Alan Pardew's only route for redemption this season, with the Toons failing to recreate the same form from last season in the league.
Pardew's side started the first leg well, with Cisse opening the scoring for the Magpies, but succumbed to some brilliant attacking football from Benfica, who took the game to the Premier league side and scored three goals in quick succession. However, the Magpies have a brilliant defensive record at home having conceded only one goal thus far in the tournament, in a 1-1 draw against Maritimo in November. However, their goal scoring record in the knockout stages has not been impressive either, scoring only two goals in their four games preceding the fixture.
The Magpies enter the game on the back of a crucial 1-0 win over Fulham, with Cisse scoring an injury time goal to hand Pardew with three vital points.
Benfica do not have any problems when it comes to excelling in the league, with the Portuguese side currently leading the points table with 67 points, four points ahead of their nearest challengers Porto. The Portuguese are on a seven match winning run in all competitions and come into the fixture as overwhelming favourites to make it to the semi-finals.
Benfica qualified for the quarter finals with a 4-2 win in aggregate over French side Bordeaux in the round of 16. The Portuguese side won both legs in the tie, winning the first leg 1-0 at home, while putting up a valiant performance to win the second leg 3-2. However, they will be slightly wary of their record against English opposition in European fixtures, with their last five encounters ending in elimination.
Their last game in the league ended in a 2-0 win over 14th placed SC Olhanense away from home, giving them a timely boost ahead of the fixture.
Last Five(All competitions, Most Recent First): W L L L W
Last Result: Newcastle United 1 - 0 Fulham
Last Five(All competitions, Most Recent First): W W W W W
Last Result: SC Olhanense 0 - 2 Benfica
Newcastle have a healthy injury list with Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Mathier Debuchy (hamstring), Davide Santon (hip), Cheikh Tiote (hamstring) and Haris Vuckic (knee) all sure to miss out due to injuries. Fabricio Coloccini(back) and Massadio Haidara(knee) have an outside chance to make the squad but are expected to make the bench. Ryan Taylor is also close to making a comeback but is expected only for their derby against Sunderland on Sunday.
Probable Line-Up: Krul; Simpson, Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gutierrez ; Cabaye, Anita; Marveaux, Sissoko, Gouffran; Cisse
Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has no injuries to worry about, with Eduardo Salvio(knee) the only player out, having also missed the first leg.
Probable Line-Up: Arthur; Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo; Matic, Martins; John, Lima, Gaitan; Cardozo