In another highly-anticipated Champions League clash (which would not be?), Newcastle United hosts Borussia Dortmund at St James’ Park, boasting an impressive record of six wins in their last eight games.
Building on an unbelievable victory over Paris Saint-Germain the last time they graced European football a few weeks ago, Newcastle leads Group F with four points (thanks to a season-opening draw at AC Milan).
The Magpies’ recent success in the Champions League, combined with their strong home form in Premier League games simply has the Magpies as as favorites against BVB.
On the flip side, Borussia Dortmund are looking for their first group-stage win after a disappointing goalless draw against AC Milan last matchday. The German semi-giants are at risk of an early exit, so expect them to be hella committed on Wednesday.
Newcastle could feature in-form Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff, while Dortmund are grappling with a bit of a goal drought. It sounds crazy, but NUFC are actually entering this matchup as the favorites and that’s nothing too wild in all honestly, let alone considering Dortmund’s precarious position in European competitions this season.
A defeat for Dortmund would mark their 50th loss in the Champions League and would seriously jeopardize their progress from Group F.
Here are some of Howe’s Wisdom Nuggets, courtesy of NUFC.com
On preparations ahead of facing the European heavyweights, who reached the Champions League final in 2013:
“We’ve been preparing and planning for this game since our last one. It’s a tough game indeed. I think the beauty of the PSG game, looking back, was the whole environment created by the supporters.
“I think we need to forget the PSG result. Take the confidence from it, but forget it and try and create that atmosphere all over again and, for us, try to recreate those energy and intensity levels and quality of our play to try to win the game.”
On facing Borussia Dortmund, who currently sit in fourth place of the Bundesliga after six wins from their opening eight league matches:
“It’s another real top test. This group was always going to be that way, going from AC Milan to PSG to Dortmund. It’s great to be involved in but as we said at the start of the group, we knew this would be be a really tough examination for us, this is a key period in it now.
“We’ve made a good start but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We have to focus on what’s ahead of us and this is a pivotal game in the group.”
On adapting to playing in the Champions League this season, the club’s first involvement in European football since the 2012/13 Europa League campaign:
“It’s early days to draw too many conclusions and that’s why we have to stay very level and not get too carried away in terms of our perceptions of ourselves.
“We have to prove in these early stages of the Champions League that we’re good enough. I still feel we need to be in that mindset going into this game.
“We have to start from zero every game. We have to impose ourselves on our opposition and do everything we can to try and win.
“I’d like to think we’re in a stronger position. I think we start with a bit more understanding of the dynamics and what’s going to happen to us, what we’re going through but that’s why I’m reluctant to draw too many long-term conclusions because this is only our third game. This will be a big test.”
On meeting former Newcastle United player and manager, Kevin Keegan at an event at the Tyne Theatre on Monday night:
“I really enjoyed it. For me, the chance to meet him personally and speak with him and spend time with him was a brilliant thing. He’s got such a great personality. He was in really good form, really positive with a lot of jokes and laughter.
“I could sense his emotion towards Newcastle and the emotion coming back to him from the people in the room. I’d love to get him back here again (at St. James’ Park) in some way to get the the supporters to show their appreciation to him too.
“He was really relaxed and just seemed in a really good place of his life. I just enjoyed being with him and I’d love to spend more time with him and bring him back to the football club.”
On injury issues, including Joe Willock and Sven Botman, as well as Sandro Tonali’s status, with the Italian midfielder subject to investigation by the Italian Prosecutor’s Office and Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in relation to illegal betting activity:
“Sandro is fit and fine. Obviously, things are going on but the same as he was before Crystal Palace. Joe Willock is getting closer with every day that passes and Sven Botman is still out.
“Apart from that, we’re pretty similar (to Saturday).”
On Alexander Isak, with the Swedish forward playing for Wednesday’s visitors as a teenager between 2017 and 2019:
“I’m really pleased with where’s he at. The West Ham game, his last start for us, I though he was outstanding then he picked up a slight groin problem but I think he’s back to full fitness.
“He’s trained really well in the build up to this game. I’m delighted where his career is at and where his performances have been for us.
“I can’t speak about his time at Dortmund. That’s something I don’t have enough information on but I’m sure Alex will want to do well because it’s our next game.”
- Date: Wednesday, October 25th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST / 17:00 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)