On the 4th of April Newcastle United will be continuing on their quest for European glory after surprising the majority of pundits by making it to the quarter finals of the EUFA Europa League after a tense 1-0 win against Russian opposition Anzhi Makhachkala in the home leg. Newcastle have set their sights on getting through to the Europa League Final in Amsterdam in May. Newcastle have a titanic challenge ahead of them as they play Portuguese team Benfica in the quarter finals.
Benfica who are also known as “SLB” are currently doing extremely well in the Portuguese league and are currently sitting in first with 61 points at the time of writing and in 23 domestic games have drawn 4 and won a staggering 19 games. This means they are currently unbeaten domestically this season. This doesn’t come as a surprise as SLB have an astounding 67 domestic titles to their name placing them 2nd overall. They are not an opponent to be sniffed at and could cause some serious issues for the Magpies as they try to progress to their first major title since the 1969 Fairs Cup Final.
Things are not looking good for Newcastle United after their sudden burst of quality after receiving a number of French reinforcements in January as a number of players have been sidelined with injury. Most notably is the absence of midfield maestro Hatem Ben Arfa who aggravated his condition against Anzhi and will now be out for the rest of the season with a hamstring problem. Along with him injuries to Massadio Haidara, Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Mathieu Debuchy are leaving the Toon back four looking a bit thin on the ground.
Let’s hope that new England International Steven Taylor and the Newcastle boys can overcome this monumental challenge and take an advantage into the home leg on the 11th of the month at St James’ Park.