‘It’s going to be a special night’ – Newcastle legend expects ‘bouncing’ atmosphere in crunch UCL tie

Ciaran McCarthy
Shay Given, 2023
Shay Given working as a pundit on a Champions League match

Newcastle legend Shay Given expects St James’ Park will be “bouncing” on a “special night” which could see the Magpies reach the Champions League knockouts.

Newcastle have returned to the heights they expect to be at after a tough few years for the club. Indeed, dropping down to the Championship on a couple of occasions was rough for them.

But after Mike Ashley sold the club to the Saudi Public Investment Fund, they’ve recruited the kinds of stars which thrive in big games.

That was evident in their second Champions League match of the campaign – only the second game they’d played in the competition for 20 years – when they thumped Paris Saint-Germain 4-1.

But Newcastle are in a very tough group, and have lost twice against Borussia Dortmund since then, before drawing to PSG in a game mired in controversy, when a late penalty decision was given against them, and one that the Magpies players and many others “don’t understand.”

But they’ve kept themselves afloat, and the final group match against AC Milan represents a chance to reach the Champions League knockouts for the first time in their history.

Magpies legend Given expects a phenomenal atmosphere inside the stadium as fans attempt to will their side to a win.

“The AC Milan game is going to be huge. Obviously I played at St. James’ Park and I’ve been back too as a pundit, I was at the PSG game with TNT [Sports] and wow, what a night that was,” Given told the Daily Star.

“It’s been amazing to have those nights back at St James’ Park and you can see with Wor Flags and the place is rocking. Bouncing.”

Indeed, Given sees accession to the knockouts as a possibility – it will take a Newcastle win and either a draw or a Dortmund win in the other group game to ensure it can happen.

“I just hope Newcastle can finish off the group stage with a victory against AC Milan. It won’t be easy. Dortmund have already qualified so we need them to Newcastle a favour over in Germany when they play PSG,” Given added.

“I think a draw will be enough if we can beat Milan so it would be brilliant if Dortmund could do that and Newcastle could go through to the next stage after being in the group of death.

“I’d imagine it’s going to be a special night at St. James’. Milan will be going there thinking they’ve got an outside chance as well.”

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