Pardew issues challenge to Toon

Alan Pardew has warned Newcastle they will need to match Barcelona if they are to extend their European adventure.

Last Updated: 10/04/13 at 20:25 Post Comment   

Pardew: Feels Newcastle can overturn the deficit

Pardew: Feels Newcastle can overturn the deficit

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned his players they will need to match Barcelona if they are to extend their Europa League adventure.

The Magpies head into Thursday night's quarter-final, second leg clash with Benfica trailing 3-1 after last week's trip to Lisbon, knowing a side which has not lost in 31 games in all competitions stands between them and their dreams of a place in the last four.

Only star-studded Barca have beaten Jorge Jesus' men by two clear goals this season, winning 2-0 in the Champions League at the Estadio da Luz in October three weeks before Spartak Moscow inflicted their last defeat.

But that is exactly what Newcastle will have to do at St James' Park if they are to reach the semi-finals, and while Pardew knows that will be a tall order, he is confident they can defy the odds.

He said: "There's only one team which has beaten them by two clear goals, and that's Barcelona, so that's the size of the task, so we are under no illusions there.

"This is a Champions League team, really, and if it weren't for Celtic's fantastic performance in the group, they could have been competing tonight in the Champions League.

"That's the quality we are up against. I don't think there are going to be many better sides that have played here than Benfica.

"They have a slightly different style to a Premier League team. They have some fantastic technical players - Gaitan, Rodrigo, Cardozo and Lima.

"They have a real, real threat on the counter-attack, and the game could get away from us, it could easily get away from us, so we have got to be very much on our guard that we approach it in the right manner, give ourselves a chance and try to get us to the end of the game in a position where we can get it back.

"I would still feel confident two goals down with 10 minutes to go, the way that we are and the potential we have in the group, and the way I can affect it off the bench."

In that respect, Pardew may have a joker in his pack with the surprise return of France international Hatem Ben Arfa from injury.

The 51-year-old had effectively ruled out the 26-year-old for the remainder of the campaign with the hamstring injury he aggravated in the 0-0 draw with Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow on March 7.

However, he has returned to training and is likely to be used as an impact substitute.

Pardew said: "Hatem Ben Arfa has made an unbelievable recovery - he will be involved tomorrow.

"I am sure if he is needed, he will be somebody who can turn the game, so I have assets that have come to me maybe just in time."

Pardew's joy at Ben Arfa's return was tempered by the loss of central defender Steven Taylor, who has joined skipper Fabricio Coloccini on the sidelines with a knee problem suffered in training earlier today, although with Sunday's derby clash with Sunderland looming, he is hopeful of a swift recovery.

The manager said: "We don't think it's too serious, but he is certainly not going to be involved tomorrow."

Newcastle have made something of a habit in recent weeks of winning games at the death with Papiss Cisse contributing late decisive strikes against Stoke, Anzhi and at the weekend, Fulham.

Cisse said: "I tell myself as long as the referee hasn't blown his whistle, the game isn't over.

"I'm an attacker, that's my job - that's what I always tell myself. I have to be ready to score at any moment, so there's always a chance until the whistle goes that I can score."

Pardew will take another winner from the Senegal international whenever it arrives, but admits he has been urging his leading scorer not to leave it so late.

He said with a smile: "I keep telling Papiss to try to score before the 92nd minute - it's becoming ridiculous.

"He's a special goalscorer and a big threat to Benfica, I thought, in the first leg, and he will be tomorrow too."


Price boost on Newcastle to win 2-0 at 14/1


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