Similarly to Liverpool’s opponents Zenit St Petersburg Metalist Kharkiv find themselves in the midst of a winter break. The Ukrainian side have not played a competitive game since a 1-0 defeat against Rapid Vienna on the 6th December 2012. They tried to adapt to their game with Newcastle United by playing non-league side Whitley Bay in a friendly; presumably to get a taste of North East football (to get a taste of playing Newcastle United they would have been better playing in Brittany rather than Britain).
Whether their confidence will be damaged by the fact they drew with the Northern League Division One side 1-1 at Hillheads remains to be seen but the loss of talisman Taison to Shakhtar Donetsk will certainly play on their minds.
The former youth team-mate of Dani Alves, Nilmar and Fernandinho has had a good season so far and will now be expected to step into the boots of Taison after his exit.
12 goals and seven assists this season in all competitions highlights the danger this attacking midfielder will possess.
Everton fans may remember playing Metalist a few seasons ago in the Europa League; I know I do because the Ukrainian side were extremely impressive.
At the centre of it all was a debutant by the name of Edmar. The Brazilian has since added the name of his Ukrainian wife to his Samba forename and played for the Ukrainian national team and remains the clubs talisman from the middle of the park.
The Argentine is having a breakthrough season at the club and is their current top-goalscorer. While the re-signing of former Ukrainian League MVP Jaja from Al-Ahli may threaten his position in the first team if this lad is on the pitch he will always be a goal threat.
Jose Ernesto Sosa
The South American theme continues with Jose Sosa.
A former Bayern Munich and Napoli player who stylises his creative midfielder role on his hero Juan Sebastian Veron he will be dangerous behind the front-man.
An Argentine international who will have to be watched very carefully by Newcastle’s own Argentine contingent.
We get away from South America and move to Senegal; and this man is a hero for the Kharkiv fans. At the club for seven years now the giant defender is fast, fit, strong, superb in the air and on his day absolutely impassable.
Not to mention being a threat in the opposing box.
Who do you think will be Newcastle’s biggest threat?
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