Newcastle United (England) vs. Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine)
I don’t think there’s anybody in the world right now who thinks Newcastle United’s new French connection is a waste! When you watch French football in England, there’s no doubt you’ll get satisfied! Having finished 2nd in their group behind leaders Bordeaux, Newcastle return to European action with an even stronger team and more reason to be taken seriously. Losing only once in their Europa League flight to Bordeaux, Alan Pardew’s men are sure to pose a threat to Metalist or any other team, should they advance to the late stages of the competition. As this is going to be the first time these two clubs meet, you just don’t know what to expect!
Myron Markevych’s men, on the other hand, finished top of group K, tied with Leverkusen. Together with Leverkusen, they challenged well for the title, and gave everything they could when they could. They finished in good form, with only one loss in their Europa League flight. No Taison? No problem!
Super Moussa Sissoko will probably be one of the players to watch for Newcastle. Papiss Cisse, although not in his best form (with only one goal in the competition), as compared to, say, last season, will also be a threat for Myron Markevych & co. I don’t know if we’ll be seeing too much of Shola Ameobi now that there’s a new French wave in Tyneside, but his group-stage form had been great for Alan Pardew’s side so far! The world will also be looking at Gouffran to see what he has to offer, as well as a very strong Cabaye.
For Myron Markevych’s side, there will be Brazilian Cleiton Xavier, Sebastian Blanco, and Willian (no, not Willian Borges da Silva, but fellow countryman, Willian Gomes de Siqueira) to watch out for!
My prediction for the first leg of this game to be played at St. James’ Park would be narrow win for Kharkiv. For the second leg, I predict a comeback from Newcastle United and them to progress further into the tournament.
1st Leg: Newcastle United 1-2 Metalist Kharkiv
2nd Leg: Metalist Kharkiv 1-3 Newscastle United
Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Germany) vs. SL Benfica (Portugal)
When Germany meets Portugal, expect a lot of drama and a lot of goals! With the first leg happening at the BayArena in Leverkusen, where, according to statistics, Leverkusen are yet to lose or concede at in European competitions this season, Bayer will be looking to keep it that way and prove to the whole of Europe and the rest of the world that they are worthy of being crowned second Champions of Europe. Having finished 2nd in their group but with the same points as Metalist, their strength has been felt and their threat is evident.
Benfica, being one of the biggest clubs in Portugal, are going to be looking to show that they mean business after having been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League. The 2 time UEFA Champions League winners dropped out of the Champions League at the expense of Scottish club Celtic, in a difficult group G. Jorge Jesus’ men managed to hold Spanish giants, FC Barcelona, and are very much praised for this accomplishment by their fans and fellow competitors. Put a club that’s held FC Barcelona in the Champions League in the Europa League and you have many of the clubs that were already in the Europa League consider them to be one of the “big boys!”
Oscar Cardozo, Nemanja Matic will be closely watched by Leverkusen because of the skill they’ve both been able to show to the world. Class players, those ones! Luisao in defense will also be a pain to Leverkusen’s forwards! From Leverkusen, expect the likes of Gonzalo Castro to shine at the BayArena! Stefan Reinartz, Stefan Kießling, and Andre Schurrle could both also put Benfica to the test.
My prediction for the first leg of this match to be played at the BayArena in Leverkusen would be a win for the German side. My prediction for the second leg to be played in Lisbon would be a draw, and Leverkusen to progress to the round of 16.
1st Leg: Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-2 SL Benfica
2nd Leg: SL Benfica 1-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Written by Ange Marline