After the news broke of Newcastle's summer tournament plans in Texas by World Soccer Talk, all social media related to Newcastle United broke wide open. We are trying our hardest to contain our excitement as there are still 4 matches to play in the current Premier League season. That doesn't stop us from looking at flights and lodging for the tournament!
It also doesn't stop us from taking a look at the opponents in the tournament. We will be previewing the tournament itself and a comprehensive guide for Newcastle fans as they converge on Dallas-Fort Worth this July.
Our toughest opponent in the group, if not the tournament, is Olympique Lyonnais from France. They are led by manager Herbert Fournier, and are in the hunt for the Ligue 1 title this season. They are duking it out with Paris-St. Germain for the title, and they are currently three points off the pace with four matches to play this season.
Much of their success lies on 23 year old Alexandre Lacazette. His 26 goals and 6 assists in 30 appearances have been the lifeblood of Lyon's attack. He was heavily courted by Newcastle last summer, but terms could not be met. He re-signed with Lyon until 2018, stating his responsibility to Lyon. It goes without saying Lyon would not be where they are without this talented young striker.
They could be without this talented goalscorer by the time this tournament rolls around. England's usual suspects--Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Spurs--are all lining up to land Lacazette's signature. Borussia Dortmund reportedly have expressed interest, too.
Should Lyon keep Lacazette's suitors at bay, Newcastle will have a handful with this squad. They are very quick on the counter attack, led by Lacazette and his striking partner, Clinton Mua Njie. Njie has also contributed 14 goals and 7 assists in the current campaign.
Should they keep the ball in the offensive third, they will face tough opposition in goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. Lopes has started in all 34 Ligue 1 matches, allowing just 29 goals and making 91 saves. He has kept 14 clean sheets this season as a result.
Of the two matches in Newcastle's group play, this will be the top match to watch. Both teams love to counter and have the potential firepower to create some fireworks. Let's hope this kind of play is a preview of great European battles where more is on the line than a preseason tournament.