Benfica v Newcastle – Europa League preview and team news

Newcastle are looking to shake off their shaky Premier League form of late and secure a positive result away at Portuguese giants Benfica in the opening leg of their Europa League quarter final.

The Magpies had appeared to put this competition as their main priority over overcoming Russian outfit Anzhi in dramatic late circumstances in the last round, only three days after a league victory against Stoke looked to have all but secured their top-flight status for another season.

However, two league defeats in a row since then, coupled with wins for the sides around them, have left Alan Pardew’s men dangling on the edge of the abyss once more and with an already injury-hit squad, it remains to be seen what sort of starting XI he will put out at the Estadio da Luz.

There could be a return in goal for first-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul, who has missed the last seven matches with an ankle injury, while defender Davide Santon could also be fit after missing the defeat at Manchester City on Saturday with a thigh problem.

However, Newcastle will still be without Massadio Haidara and Cheick Tiote with knee and hamstring problems respectively, while Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Fabricio Coloccini (back) and Ryan Taylor (knee) are all long-term absentees.

French duo Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran will also be in Lisbon, where the hosts have won 15 of their 16 matches, due to their previous appearances in the competition for Lille and Bordeaux.

Benfica have no such injury problems, with key trio Nemanja Matic, Oscar Cardozo and Pablo Aimar all fit to take part.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Benfica v Newcastle

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