Malaga vs. Newcastle United: How the Magpies Will Line Up in Pre-Season Friendly
As Newcastle United’s pre-season campaign gathers pace, the two-game Schalke 04 Cup this weekend will provide another test of the players’ strength and sharpness.
First up is a clash with La Liga outfit Malaga on Saturday, with Toon boss Alan Pardew ready to welcome back a handful of players who starred at this summer’s World Cup.
The tournament then culminates with a fixture against the German hosts in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday, and the Magpies hope to give the bulk of their squad a run out.
So as the new campaign edges ever closer and ahead of the opening tie at the Veltins Arena, Bleacher Report takes a look at how the Geordies could line up against the Spaniards.
Goalkeeper: Rob Elliot
Though Netherlands international Tim Krul is back in full training with his Newcastle United team-mates following his exertions in Brazil, he will not feature in Gelsenkirchen this weekend.
Full-Backs: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara
In Davide Santon’s absence due to a troublesome knee injury, Massadio Haidara has emerged as Alan Pardew’s preferred replacement left-back, and that trend is set to continue in Germany.
Paul Dummett started the midweek victory over Sheffield Wednesday at centre-back, and a place on the bench is the best the Welsh international can hope for against Malaga.
Much like his Netherlands team-mate Tim Krul, summer signing Daryl Janmaat will also miss out in the Veltins Arena after being given extra time off following the World Cup.
The full-back will travel with his new colleagues, but with Ryan Taylor a long way from being match-fit, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will continue to fill in down the right.
Centre-Backs: Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini
Another interesting facet at Newcastle United this summer is the re-emergence of Steven Taylor at the heart of the defence.
The centre-back fell dramatically out-of-favour last season, but the 28-year-old has featured in all but one of the Toon’s warm-up games so far and that looks set to continue.
None of which explains the puzzling absence of Mike Williamson, who made 35 appearances for the Magpies last term but is yet to figure on the bench this summer, let alone in the starting XI.
Alongside Taylor, skipper Fabricio Coloccini is expected to receive a recall after being rested following the gruelling trip home from New Zealand earlier this week.
Central Midfielders: Jack Colback and Cheick Tiote
Cheick Tiote was a welcome addition to the Newcastle side that beat Sheffield Wednesday this week, and boss Alan Pardew will look to include him once more in Gelsenkirchen.
The Ivory Coast international was a late arrival to pre-season after his efforts in South America, and his solidity in the middle of the park will give United the perfect platform from which to build.
Alongside him, Jack Colback’s progress suggests Pardew has him pencilled in for a major role once the Premier League gets underway.
The former Sunderland man has made a big impression since switching from Wearside and could form a reliable partnership with Tiote over the coming weeks and months.
Attacking Midfielder: Siem De Jong
Providing he has recovered from the minor toe injury that saw him leave the action early against Wellington last weekend, Siem De Jong will resume his No. 10 role in Germany.
The fact that manager Alan Pardew has handed him the vice-captaincy role suggests big things are expected of the 25-year-old and few doubt his capacity to deliver.
Wide Forwards: Remy Cabella and Yoan Gouffran
Newcastle United’s biggest signing of the summer so far could be in line to make his Magpies debut this weekend—and it can’t come quick enough for the club’s loyal fans.
Labelled in some quarters as a direct replacement for Yohan Cabaye, Remy Cabella will bring pace and trickery to the Magpies’ starting XI, though he may have to take his chances out wide to begin with.
Also in the frame to start against Malaga is Yoan Gouffran, who bagged his first goal of pre-season in New Zealand and is eager to make the left-wing berth his own.
While Moussa Sissoko could also figure at some stage, one player guaranteed to be missing from the Toon squad in Gelsenkirchen is Hatem Ben Arfa.
The Frenchman has seemingly played his last game under Alan Pardew, as reported by the Daily Mail’s Craig Hope, he and has been left behind to train with the reserves on Tyneside.
Centre-Forward: Emmanuel Riviere
Despite scoring his first goal for Newcastle United in midweek, Ayoze Perez looks set to make way for fellow new boy Emmanuel Riviere in Germany.
As the Magpies’ hierarchy toil away behind the scenes in an effort to bolster their attacking options, former Monaco man Riviere will be the main beneficiary against Malaga.
Interestingly, one player who could be back in a Toon shirt before long is Queens Park Rangers forward Loic Remy, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at St. James’ Park last term.
“It's a straightforward deal if Loic and QPR decide to do business with us,” he said. “The results speak for themselves, the fans loved him and I think it's a great place for him personally.”