Tomorrow I am going to watch Newcastle, my team, against Benfica in a massive Europa League quarter final second leg.
The aggregate score is 3-1 to Benfica after the first leg in Lisbon, at the ironically named ‘Estádio da Luz’ or ‘Stadium of Light’. The away goal gives Newcastle some hope, with more hope being gained by the numerous missed chances from Papiss Cisse in the first leg, which, while being frustrating, highlighted defensive frailties in Benfica’s team. The high defensive line from Benfica is one I believe Newcastle can exploit with the pace of Marveaux, Sissoko and Cisse making runs in behind the Benfica back line. If Cisse has a bit more luck in front of goal anything is possible. Newcastle have to win by two clear goals, unless they concede meaning they would have to win by three. If they concede by multiple goals they need to win by three clear goals. So 2-0, 4-1, 5-2 or 6-3 are all score lines which would see Newcastle progress.
However, as seen in the first leg, Benfica are a team who possess numerous qualities, especially in attack. Newcastle will need to play with the same intensity shown in the first 20 minutes of the away fixture. They also need to avoid making silly mistakes, such as the two very preventable ones from the first leg which led to two Benfica goals. I can only hope that the fans don’t look back on them with a deep sense of regret. Caution should also be taken when attacking as Benfica have great pace on the counter-attack.
In injury news there is good and bad news for the Magpies: Hatem Ben Arfa could make an unexpected and welcome return to the side. Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon and Cheick Tiote are still all injured and Yoan Gouffran is ineligible. There is a big blow for Newcastle with Steven Taylor suffering a knee injury in training. Geordie Taylor is a big piece in the Newcastle defence and also a great leader. Mike Williamson or James Perch will replace him if Taylor does indeed miss the match. Newcastle will hope that Taylor will make the starting line-up for the massive Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday. Benfica have no real fresh injury concerns making the task even harder for Newcastle.
Newcastle face a huge task but with a sell-out crowd at St James Park roaring the team on anything is possible. I should have a match report out by tommorow or Friday. Howay the lads!