Benfica v Newcastle United – Match Preview
Benfica v Newcastle United 8.05pm Live On ITV4
A massive occasion tonight as Newcastle United take on Benfica in the quarter finals of the Europa League.
Alan Pardew has to do without the ineligible Yoan Gouffran and Mathieu Debuchy, plus the injured Cheick Tiote, Fabricio Coloccini, Massadio Haidara and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Newcastle travelled with the following nineteen man squad;
Tim Krul seems sure of his place after appearing alongside the manager at the pre-match press conference and Alan Pardew has limited options elsewhere on the pitch.
I find it hard to imagine Bigirimana, Campbell, Gosling, Obertan or Williamson starting, which leaves twelve players fighting it out for ten outfield places.
If Alan Pardew goes for his strongest team then I would expect Cabaye, Cisse, Jonas, Marveaux, Santon, Sissoko, Taylor and Mapou all to start.
Which then leaves Perch, Simpson, Anita and Shola to compete for the remaining two spots.
I wouldn’t rule out Shola playing up front which has worked to a degree in Europe, though that then means Cisse is more or less wasted as a possible goalscorer.
I fancy Anita and Simpson to play, in a formation with Cisse and Sissoko furthest forward but how Alan Pardew organises the rest of his team is open to question.
I have a horrible feeling that pretty much all eleven of our players will be defenders for most of the match but that isn’t a massive problem just so long as they attack with intent when they get the chance.
While they are definitely a good team, I don’t exactly agree with Alan Pardew’s verdict of them being ‘one of the best teams in Europe’. I just hope United don’t stand totally off the opposition and let them dictate like the first half at home to Anzhi. Obviously there is risk attached but unlike at Manchester City we have to commit more players forward when we do attack, rather than just Cisse and Sissoko taking on half a dozen of them.
Paraguayan striker Cardozo is a potent force and has scored 16 goals in 19 appearances this season but they are an excellent all round attacking team, with full-back bombing forward on both sides.
If the home side score a wonder goal then fair enough but please let’s not hand them any soft goals.
It is sometimes easy to forget that in Sissoko, Cabaye and Cisse we have players who can hurt the best teams, if they set the standard then the rest of the team can follow.
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