Match Preview: Maritimo Home (Europa League Group D)
With Newcastle United’s Premier League performances being substandard of late, Alan Pardew will be looking to atone for recent domestic disappointment with a win tonight. In what should be a comfortable win over Group D minnows Maritimo, Newcastle fans would be provided some solace to see their team qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League.
Fabricio Coloccini is still paying for his sending off at Anfield and has one more Premier League match to serve, meaning he will be a sure starter for Newcastle tonight. Cheick Tiote on the other hand serves a European ban having picked up another yellow card in his last Group D outing.
Other key players, Ben Arfa and Ba are available although with what can now be described as a must win Premier League tie with Southampton away on the weekend, it would be no surprise to see the pair left out of Pardew’s ‘cup team’. Yohan Cabaye will definitely miss the game following his recent groin injury that will see him kept out of the side until after the New Year.
Papiss Cisse will most likely start in attack tonight as he has been cleared by Fifa to play, following the frustration of last weekend whereby he was ineligible. European regular Gabriel Obertan however will miss the game theough a toe injury, while stalwart Shola Ameobi is doubtful with a groin problem.
Despite Newcastle’s injury hit squad at present however, Pardew is still set to follow his method of introducing the required amount of first team players to his cup side consisting of fringe and youth players, capable of winning the game.
How will the team set up?
Tim Krul, Steve Harper and Rob Elliot are all available but Pardew has hinted he wants to take no chances with tonight’s game and therefore we should see Krul start, giving us the best possible chance of a clean sheet.
Simpson, Santon, Ferguson, Tavernier, Coloccini, S. Taylor and Mike Williamson are all available in defense, meaning one of Taylor and Willo will partner Colo at the back. It would make sense for Santon to be rested and with the centre half pairing set to look strong we could see Tav and Fergie introduced at fullback.
Anita, Jonas and Bigi would make sense to provide a solid midfield three which Pardew has seemed to favour in Europe, meaning we could see a three pronged forward attack of Sammy Ameobi and Marveaux either side of Cisse.
This team would have pace up top and be more than capable of winning tonight’s game, moreover Pardew would have the insurance policy of big guns Ben Arfa and Ba on the bench if required.
Probable 11: 4-3-3
Tav Willo Colo Fergie
Anita Bigi Jonas
Sammy Cisse Marv
Whilst our form has been noticeably poor recently, Maritimo have been struggling of late too. In the last run out they did win 3-0 in a domestic cup game although in terms of their recent league run, it’s quite surprising that they even qualified for the Europa League last year. They sit twelfth place in the Portuguese league and with only 16 sides in the division, it’s a bad place to be. Moreover, they are yet to win at home in 9 league games. A 5-0 spanking from Porto a couple of games ago suggests they certainly won’t be anywhere near European qualification again this season!
Newcastle opened their Group D campaign gaining a point from a 0-0 draw over in Portugal, although it was a game we really should have won. Since that game at the beginning of September, Maritimo have gone on to take a single point in their three following games.
Maritimo will be coming to St. James Park tonight knowing they have to win this game and their last game to have any chance of progressing to the last 32. It’s an overwhelmingly difficult task for them and even a die hard fan would have to concede it’s unrealistic.
What are the opposition’s weaknesses?
Pedro Martins’ side have struggled to win games this year mostly due to a lacking attack. They simply don’t score enough goals. Obayomi and Danilo Dias are the preferred striker partners and have flattered to deceive, whilst young Portuguese attacking midfielder Simao has failed to live up to his reputation and perceived potential so far this year.
It seems the side are in a bit of a slump and it would be a surprise to see them score tonight, in a game where Newcastle will dictate much play with most possession.
Tonight I expect Heldon to partner Simao in central midfield, as both are attacking minded and Maritimo need to score goals and win this game. It’s pointless them turning up for a draw because it won’t get them through. There’s a chance Maritimo will have a go and they can only look at our last run out when Brugge scored two early goals against us.
It does seem however, that with Anita, Bigi and Jonas in the middle for us, Maritimo will be overwhelmed and will fail to control the game. Whist they might well get the odd chance and run at our defense, they’re ultimately a poor side and can’t afford to lack conviction tonight.
I’m far more focused on how Newcastle’s midfield can win the game tonight by providing the required ammunition for the likes of Marveaux and Sammy to show us what they can do.
What I’d like to see:
This is a game where Colo will start and we should be provided. by Pardew, with a solid defensive base. Games are won by the most goals scored of course but I think Pards will be very wary of recent performances and will first and foremost be looking to get it right at the back, to provide a basis for winning the game.
I expect us to indeed by fine and commanding at the back and it would be no surprise to see the likes of Colo and possible Tav if he plays, to make marauding runs in to the opposition half, playing with confidence and looking to support the team. However I’d like to see our midfield find our forward players.
We should be scoring goals tonight against a side we are far superior to. That’s not arrogance, it’s fact. We have played better in Europe than in the PL this season and despite recent setbacks we should dominate tonight.
I’d like us to be precise and play some decent football, picking out the frontline with passes from midfield. Marveaux and Sammy should see a lot of the ball and will undoubtedly run at players and look to play Cisse in, however it will be no use if our passing in the final third is sloppy.
This is a big opportunity for Bigi and Marveaux. I hope they can play well for us.
What I expect to see:
A win and dominant performance from us tonight. I can’t see recent results playing much part and I think we’ll approach the game professionally and it should be comfortable on the night. I think we will go 4-3-3 and fans’ troubles could well be eased with some players pleasantly surprising us tonight.
I’ll be studying Marveaux the most, he has the potential to be a real player but opportunities have passed him by so far.
What I’d like to see from tonight’s game should well be put in to practice.
An all round easy night in the end. Chances to be squandered of course as you can’t expect anything else from us at the minute, nevertheless enough to win the game. 2-0, Sammy to rifle one in for us.
There is a lot going wrong and against Newcastle at the minute. A plethora of things in fact and that’s something I’d like to assess, because so much doesn’t seem to be clicking for us at present. This is our 20th game of the season so far but I do expect us to win the game and I’d like to be dazzled by the likes of Sammy at times!
People like Marveaux and Cisse have the perfect opportunity to bag a goal and come out of the game with some form and confidence as Maritimo are a poor side and ultimately aren’t good enough for this competition.
I have faith though and equally I have faith in Pardew. This is a competition he is taking very seriously and it could be the highlight of our season.
We can’t let this go to waste, it’s Europe, we’re Newcastle United, let’s show them what we’re all about!