SL Benfica v Newcastle United
Quarterfinal, UEFA Europa League
Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal
Thursday, 4th April, 2013
Referee: Antony Gautier (France)
Benfica v Newcastle
Benfica are on a winning streak of four games since entering the Europa League in the knockout stages from the Champions League. Newcastle have managed to keep clean sheets in all of their European knockout encounters this season so far, scoring two goals in the process.
This is the first time the two sides are facing each other but Benfica has played English teams on 29 occasions (W9 D4 L16) and they have not won in their last five games against Premier League opposition. Newcastle have played five games against Portuguese opposition (W1 D3 L1).
The last time Newcastle United reached the quarterfinal stage of this competition was in the 2004/05 season when they lost out to another Portuguese Liga side Sporting CP.
SL Benfica Preview
Despite beating Spartak Moscow and Celtic before drawing against Barcelona, Benfica finished third in the group. They entered Europa at the Round of 32 stage and knocked out Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. In the Round of 16 they defeated Ligue 1 side Bordeaux.
Benfica have won all four of their Europa League matches this season and are unbeaten in 13 Europa League home fixtures (W12 D1). The Eagles are the only team to have reached the quarterfinal stage of all three Europa campaigns.
Benfica and Chelsea are the only teams that were transferred from the Champions League group stage to the Round of 32. They will be hoping emulate the feat of inaugural winners Atletico Madrid.
The Eagles have scored seven goals in their four matches while conceding only three. Oscar Cardozo scored two goals in the Round of 16 decider against Bordeaux took his tally to 16 Europa League goals – second only to Atletico’s Radamel Falcao (31). However, Cardozo only needs one more goal to equal Falcao’s goals for Porto.
Newcastle United Preview
Newcastle have only suffered a single defeat in 12 Europa League games. It is a testament to a level of consistency that Newcastle have been unable to match domestically. They are currently placed 15th on the Premier League table just three points clear of the relegation zone.
They finished second behind Bordeaux in Group D and Alan Pardew’s side have since overcome Metalist Kharkiv and Anzhi Makhachkala thanks to solitary goals from Shola Ameobi and Papiss Cisse. They have managed to keep four clean sheets in the knockout rounds and only need one more to set a new record since the advent of Europa League.
The Magpies have scored just nine goals this season in the Europa League. They have won just one of the six European away games (W1 D4 L1).
Newcastle’s manager, Alan Pardew, was the Premier League manager of the year in 2011/12. Before a move to Tyneside, he had spent time in charge of Reading, West Ham, Charlton Athletic and Southampton.
Benfica v Newcastle Prediction
Newcastle have been sturdy in the defence so Benfica should have a hard time finding the net. Nonetheless, the bookies still favour the Portuguese to win the game with an outside chance of a draw. It should be a closely fought game and whoever takes the lead should be able to see it through.
Benfica are on a winning streak of six games, scoring 20 goals in the process and conceding just three. Their last defeat came against SC Braga on penalties in the semifinal of the Portuguese League Cup.
Newcastle are heading to Portugal after a crushing 4-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City at the Etihad. Their last win came against Anzhi in the Round of 16 of the Europa League. In their last six games, the Magpies have lost three and won two – all three of their losses were suffered in Premier League matches.
Benfica v Newcastle Prediction
Although betting odds favour Benfica to win 1-0 but I am going with Newcastle holding out the Eagles.
Prediction: Benfica 0-0 Newcastle