Benfica vs. Newcastle United: Complete Europa League Preview
There will be four interesting Europa League quarterfinal ties on Thursday, but Benfica versus Newcastle is sure to bring entertainment.
Both sides have endured different routes to get to this point, and, with a wide-open field, they'll have their eyes on further progression.
These teams have never met in in a competitive fixture(via UEFA.com).
Here is a complete preview of the match with the latest team news and projected lineups.
Benfica Team and Injury News
Benfica entered the competition after coming third in a Champions League group including Barcelona, Spartak Moscow and Celtic.
Four consecutive victories later, over Bayer Leverkusen and Bordeaux, have led the Portuguese side to this point.
Benfica currently lead the Portuguese league, and have five wins in their last five games in all competitions.
There really isn't any bad news for the Benfica team on the injury front, so Jorge Jesus will have a full-strength squad to choose from.
Oscar Cardozo has three goals in those four games and will certainly get the starting spot.
Benfica Projected Lineup(4-2-3-1): Artur Moraes; Maxi Pereira, Ezequiel Garay, Luisao, Lorenzo Melgarejo; Nemanja Matic, Enzo Perez; Ola John, Rodrigo, Nicolas Gaitan; Oscar Cardozo
Newcastle Team and Injury News
It's been a long journey for Newcastle in this tournament. After surviving the last round of qualification to enter the competition outright, the Toon came second in their group.
The English side went on to win two close ties against Eastern European clubs, Metalist Kharkiv and Anzhi Makhachkala.
Over the last five games in all competitions, Newcastle have recorded two wins, one draw and two losses.
Unlike their opponents, Newcastle have a number of injury worries heading into the game (via FantasyFootballScout).
Players such as Hatem Ben Arfa and Fabricio Coloccini are set to miss out, while there is hope that important players such as Tim Krul and Davide Santon may be available for selection.
It won't be Newcastle's strongest team in Portugal, but there will be more than enough talent in the side.
Newcastle Projected Lineup(4-2-3-1): Tim Krul; Davide Santon, Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Jonas Gutierrez; Yohan Cabaye, Vurnon Anita; Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko, Sylvain Marveaux; Papiss Cisse
Players to Watch
Benfica: Oscar Cardozo
The Paraguayan forward has been in great form this season for Benfica.
Cardozo has 21 goals in 25 games this season, with three of those strikes coming in Europa League play.
In his last six meetings against British clubs, Celtic, Chelsea and Manchester United, he's only scored one goal, but Newcastle must be wary of his goal-scoring instincts.
Newcastle United: Moussa Sissoko
Moussa Sissoko has been a great mid-season buy for Newcastle.
While the Toon hasn't fully turned the corner since his arrival, Sissoko has put in some match-winning performances for the club.
The Frenchman will certainly have a key role in proceedings in his role behind Papiss Cisse.
*Unless otherwise stated all statistics courtesy of ESPN Soccernet
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