Newcastle drew Portuguese side Benfica in the quarterfinals of the Europa League Friday. They will play in Portugal on April 4, then return to St James Park on April 11.
Benfica are the current leaders of Primeira Liga, as Porto trail by just two points with 8 matches left to play. The Benfiquistas were bounced by Celtic in the Champions League earlier this season, leading to their participation in Europa, and along the way they have defeated Bayer Leverkusen and Newcastle groupmates Bordeaux. They are an excellent defensive squad, having only conceded 14 goals in 22 league matches, keeping 12 clean sheets in that time. They are even better on the other side of the ball - they haven't failed to score in league play yet. Benfica will surely test the limits of Newcastle's abilities all over the pitch.
It's not the ideal draw for Newcastle, but hoping for an easy matchup in the quarterfinal of any competition is folly, and the Toon avoided yet another trip to Eastern Europe. They've got experience training in Portugal, so the atmosphere should be a familiar one. Finally, a trip to the real Stadium of Light.