Newcastle United take on Benfica in the second leg of their Europa League Quarter-Final on Thursday night, with a 3-1 deficit to overturn if they are to move one step closer to European glory.

The first leg in the Estadio Da Luz didn’t go to plan for the Magpies, who self-destructed to gift the home side two goals and set themselves up for a huge challenge at St James’ Park on Thursday night.

Papiss Cisse scored a potentially vital away goal to give Newcastle an unexpected lead but after Rodrigo equalised later in the first half, errors from Davide Santon and Steven Taylor resulted in Alan Pardew’s side falling behind.

If Newcastle can win 2-0 on Tyneside, they will go through on the away goals rule and have a genuine chance of winning the competition, as they will have disposed of another of the top sides left in the hunt for the Europa League.

The Geordies will head into the tie in good spirits, having been boosted by a last-gasp win over Fulham at the weekend thanks to a Cisse goal. Meanwhile, Benfica kept up their incredible domestic form with a comfortable away win at Olhanense. The Super Eagles are still unbeaten in the league and are four points ahead of rivals FC Porto at the top of the standings.

Newcastle know all about Benfica’s most dangerous players from the first leg, with in-form Brazilian striker Lima causing problems for the likes of Steven Taylor and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. Nicolas Gaitan is the main creative force in the Portuguese sides’ ranks, while winger Ola John is a speedy option on the other wing. Rodrigo—who spent a year on loan at Bolton earlier in his career—is Benfica’s sharpest attacker, while Oscar Cardozo is an excellent partner for the Spaniard.

Alan Pardew will once again have to field a side without the ineligible Yoan Gouffran and Mathieu Debuchy, while Davide Santon will miss out with a hamstring injury. James Perch could be back in time to fill in but Jonas Gutierrez or Vurnon Anita may be more likely to fill the void left by Santon.

There have been rumours of Hatem Ben Arfa returning for one last appearance before sitting out the rest of the season with a muscle problem but the reports look wide of the mark and Sylvain Marveaux will likely be the main source of creativity behind Cisse.

St James’ Park has officially sold out, meaning there will be an incredible atmosphere around the ground when kick-off approaches on Thursday night. The win over Anzhi Makhachkala in the last round was helped by a raucous crowd inside the stadium and Newcastle will be hoping the vocal Toon Army can lift their side again and inspire them to what would be one of the most famous victories in recent memory.

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  1. M Caiado

    Benfica supporter here, I do genially feel Newcastle do have a chance (just look at Dortmund yesterday) in football anything is possible. But I think Newcastle’s big problem will be that Benfica WILL score!

    Prediction 1-1

    All credit to Newcastle great fans and should be a great atmosphere (hope my boy’s can keep there nerve)


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