The Europa League draw on Thursday threw up some really interesting ties for the Premier League sides in action. Champions League fall-out Chelsea perhaps got the easiest tie with a fixture against Czech side Sparta Prague.
Liverpool will have it tough against the talented if disjointed Zenit Saint Petersburg team and Tottenham Hotspur potentially have the hardest team on paper as Hugo Lloris will say Bonjour to old friends and team-mates against Ligue 1 high-flyers Lyon.
Although the worst and most difficult tie will certainly be Newcastle United’s fixture with Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv.
It is a bright time for Ukrainian football. Shakhtar Donetsk are becoming a European force while the recent European Championship showcased some of their impressive stadia and footballing infrastructure. As for domestically while Shakhtar continue to lead the way the country does have three representatives left in the Europa League; Metalist joined by Dnipro and Dynamo Kiev.
Last season the side made it to the quarter-finals of the competition and their home form is imperious. They won Group K ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, Rosenborg and Rapid Vienna; beating all three teams in home ties. It appears that nobody particulary relishes the long journey to the far north-east of Ukraine.
The main attraction on show in the fixture will be Taison and Newcastle United’s un-fortuitous draw may be at the fortune of everyone else who finally get to see the man in action. The highly rated 24-year-old is a devastating winger-come-striker who became a viral hit after scoring a sensational Van Basten-like volley for the club earlier in the season.
He is an exceptional talent and unsurprisingly, like so many other top talents plying their trade in the further reaches of Eastern Europe, he originates from Brazil.
If Newcastle are to topple their Ukrainian opposition there is little doubt that they will need to stop Taison from having an effect on proceedings.
Or will they?
As recently as November sources claimed that Chelsea were in talks with Metalist about bringing Taison to London in January. He is reportedly good friends with Chelsea starlet Oscar; with whom he played with at Internacional in Brazil. This relationship is seen as a key ingredient in trying to convince the forward to depart for England.
If Chelsea were to pursue the signature of Taison in January successfully it would certainly make the fixture a much less daunting task for Alan Pardew’s men.
Here is his sensational goal…
Would Taison be a good signing for Chelsea?
image: © mickyb59