Alan Pardew says it would be a 'massive' result if Newcastle beat Anzhi Makhachkala

The Magpies meet the vanquishers of Liverpool in the Europa League on Thursday

Alan Pardew admits Newcastle will have to negotiate a significant step up in class if they are to book a place in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The Magpies face big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Thursday evening as they attempt to give themselves a foothold in their last 16 tie.

However, having seen them dispose of Metalist Kharkiv courtesy of an impressive 1-0 second-leg victory in Ukraine a fortnight ago, Pardew knows the stakes will be even higher in Russia.

He said: "It would be massive if we could beat this team because they are a really strong side.

"It's really now down to where every team left in that Europa League now is focusing on it probably as their primary objective.

"I can't think of too many clubs in it for whom it's not at the top of their agenda, so there's now a real focus on that competition."

In some ways, Europe has, until very recently, served as a distraction for Newcastle, who had to combine their efforts in the continental competition with a desperate fight to stay clear of the relegation places in the Barclays Premier League as a squad left thin by a frugal summer spending mission was cruelly exposed.

The club are still too close for comfort to the bottom three - the latest round of fixtures left them six points clear of the drop zone - but the addition of five January signings has sparked a genuine improvement and Pardew is confident they can now give Europe a real go.

However, his caution over their latest opponents is well founded with Anzhi a different proposition to what has gone before. Anzhi's squad features former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o - who has cost his various clubs a total in excess of £75million and is believed to be one of the highest-paid players on the planet - Brazilian Willian and ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra among their number.

Guus Hiddink's side, who have won all seven of the European home games they have played, currently sit in second place in the Russian top flight, just two points adrift of leaders CSKA Moscow, and along with Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen have reached the last 16 having entered the Europa League in the second qualifying round back in July last year.

Hiddink will know Newcastle from his brief spell in England, when he guided Chelsea to a 2-0 league victory at St James' Park in April 2009 in the first game of Alan Shearer's brief reign as manager.

The Magpies, of course, were relegated a few weeks later and only four of the 14 players who took part in that game - Steve Harper, Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez - remain on the Tyneside books.

Of that quartet, only Gutierrez is likely to be involved in Moscow because of injuries to the others.

However, Pardew will be able to call upon a trio of men who more than most have led the fightback which has eased the club's domestic fears in recent weeks.

The return of defender Steven Taylor from injury and the recruitment of Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko have been crucial, as has playmaker Yohan Cabaye's resumption after groin surgery.

Pardew said: "He (Cabaye) has been the most influential player we have had on return, closely followed by Steven and Moussa.

"Those three really have lifted the club massively."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence