Benfica v Newcastle: Alan Pardew aiming to stop Benfica taking 11th straight win

Newcastle travel to Portugal in the Europa League

Lisbon

Alan Pardew woke up yesterday to sections of the Portuguese media declaring the task facing his side against Benfica in the Europa League as "mission impossible". North East managers and headlines are proving inseparable right now, but at least this one was about football.

Pardew faces a task of his own, but it will be about actions, rather than words. There was always a feeling Europe's second club competition would get serious once it reached the last eight stage. That time is now upon Newcastle.

Benfica's record is daunting. They have lost only twice in any competition this season, against Spartak Moscow and Barcelona in the Champions League. They have won 20 of their 24 Primeira Liga games and stand at its summit, four points clear of Porto and 19 of third place Pacos Ferreira. They have won their last 10 games on the trot. In the last four games they have scored 18 goals. In all competitions this season they have scored 102 goals. April 2012 was the last time they lost a league game.

To that, and the majestic Stadium of Light, come a Newcastle side with injuries to key players – Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa – and successive defeats away from home at Wigan and Manchester City. They have also won only twice on their travels in the season's entirety but it is six hours and 17 minutes since they conceded a goal in European competition, and there is a confidence that has grown through the 12-game run that has kept their season alive.

"In football there is never a mission impossible," said Pardew. "We acknowledge that it is a tough task for us to come here and get a victory but we can get a good result and there's a difference because it's a two-legged game and we have a good record in that. I enjoy that fact, I think it works better for the way we work, but we need to give ourselves a chance for next Thursday.

"When you play a team who are on such a roll as Benfica are, it's always difficult. They have great momentum and that confidence breeds its own success. It's a difficult game for us, we're under no illusions about that but I think that at St James' Park we can beat anybody.

"This is the decider in terms of how difficult that's going to be. We need to put on a performance where we can take something back to St James' Park to give us a chance. We certainly need to give ourselves a chance.

"I think our team is a strong team. It's got the confidence to progress in this competition, even as good as the opposition are."

Newcastle, and Pardew especially, have needed the Europa League to keep prying eyes from looking too closely at a disappointing league campaign. A verdict cannot come until the competition for them has run its course.

"The competition has brought some welcome relief to what has been a sticky Premier League campaign," added Pardew. "We still suffer from injuries as we enter this game. We're missing big players and we've missed those big players all year.

"I think we have got the confidence and the quality to ensure our safety in the Premier League regardless of injuries.

"Our fans have been consistently brilliant and they'll bring a nice atmosphere here tomorrow to the city. I don't think we need it to be more of an occasion with this stadium and this club."

Brilliant Benfica: Club in numbers

102 Goals scored, in all competitions, by Benfica this season - topped by Oscar Cardozo (27)

18 The club have found the net 18 times in their last four matches, beating Rio Ave 6-1 last weekend

10 Consecutive victories for Benfica - dating back to 14 February

Benfica v Newcastle

Kick-off 8.05pm, Stadium of Light

TV ITV4

Referee A Gautier (Fr)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Life and Style
tech Manband spurn Spotify to stream album exclusively with Google
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?