Newcastle Team News for Portuguese Opener: Krul, R.Taylor, Coloccini, Simpson, Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Vuckic, Cisse, Ba.
Really strong line-up there. Oh wait, none of them are travelling to Portugal tonight. It’s not a good sign for Newcastle right now.
Just four games into the new Premier League season and already the backbone (and ribs and knees) of the side that fared so well last season is out injured or in need of a rest(?).
Luckily for the Toon, they shouldn’t be out for long, but tonight’s Europa League tie will be a real test of depth in the squad.
United face C.S. Maritimo tonight away in Funchal, in the first of their Europa League group stage ties. Both teams qualified for the competition by finishing 5th in their respective domestic leagues last season but Maritimo have started the new campaign marginally better. That said, Newcastle are still a bigger club and fans would be disappointed to leave Portugal empty handed.
But it’s the complete overhaul in the starting line-up that will worry them.
The aforementioned group of Newcastle players have a net worth of over £100m, while Maritimo’s entire squad of 29 players is worth just over £20m. Even the potential patched-up and youth-injected Newcastle line-up tonight is about £10m more valuable.
So whichever way we look at it, on paper, Newcastle should be looking to get something out of this game.
Alan Pardew has confidence in the youngsters he has been bringing into the squad, and tonight’s game away in Portugal will be a fantastic occasion for the likes of Bigirimana, Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi if they play. Or could it be a little too much for them? This is Pardew testing the waters ahead of some more tough ties against Club Brugge and Bordeaux.
It could even prove valuable assessment of the team dynamic without it’s African stars ahead of another mid-season exodus for their respective Cup of Nations. That’s if Newcastle manages or even decides to hold on to them again come January.
image: © mikebrown59