On Wednesday evening, the spotlight will shift to St James’ Park as Newcastle United face French champions PSG in the first UCL game played inside SJP in more than 20 years, part of MD2 of the Champions League Group F.
Eddie Howe’s squad, riding high on a three-game winning streak, showed everybody they were more than ready to return to the big stage with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against AC Milan on MD1.
Entering Wednesday’s matchup with momentum, Newcastle sealed a ridiculous September by scoring goals aplenty and getting back in the winning track, including putting an impressive record-breaking eight bangers past Sheff Utd in their trouncing a couple of weeks ago.
The Magpies, now on a five-match clean sheet streak, defeated Burnley 2-0 over the weekend. In contrast, PSG comes into the match after a 0-0 draw at Clermont in Ligue 1
The Parisians, known for their defensive resilience more than their goalscoring firepower these days (yes, that’s correct), have kept three consecutive clean sheets and remain unbeaten in nine away games—since their defeat to Bayern Munich seven months ago at the Allianz Arena in the UCL.
Newcastle faces challenges with key players, including Harvey Barnes, Joe Willock, Sven Botman, and possibly Callum Wilson, sidelined. Despite concerns over Joelinton’s thigh strain, Howe is optimistic about the Brazilian’s availability. The stage is set for an intriguing encounter at St James’ Park, and Howe took to the mic on Tuesday.
Here are some of Howe’s Wisdom Nuggets, courtesy of NUFC.com
On the eve of Newcastle United’s first Champions League fixture at St. James’ Park in 20 years:
“It’s been a good few days for us. We’re really looking forward to the game and can’t wait to experience the home atmosphere and what our fans create tomorrow.
“I think it’s going to be a really memorable night and hopefully our performance can make it that way too.
“I think it will be a really great moment for the club as a whole. To be back in the Champions League, at home, one of those magical nights in our stadium - I’m really looking forward to it.
“At the moment, it’s about focusing on the match and what we need to do to try and win.”
On the importance of home form:
“It’s going to be crucial for us. The away games in this competition are very difficult and we experienced that in Milan.
“I know we probably didn’t hit the heights of our best performance but I think our success in the competition will be based on what we do at home where we have the backing of our supporters.
“It’s a pivotal game in our group.”
On the injury updates of Joelinton, Callum Wilson, Sven Botman and Sandro Tonali:
“We think Callum won’t make the game tomorrow. He’s going to be close as it stands he won’t.
“Joelinton is in a very similar position where he’s close so we’ll make a late check on him.
“Sven Botman is out and won’t play. Sandro Tonali is fine.”
On the home supporters:
“It’s not a case of hope - I know what they will bring. They will bring their positivity, noise, enthusiasm and love for the game to the pitch for us.
“As always, it’s up to us to use that powerfully and positively for us in our performance. I think we’ve done that really well because you can use too much emotion in games but I think we’ve just got the balance right in our performances and I think that’s going to be crucial again.”
On the prospect of facing World Cup winner Kylian Mbappé, who has netted eight goals in his opening seven matches across all competitions so far this season:
“I think it’s a very difficult assignment for us defensively. Our defensive record in the last few games has been very strong so I think we’re going to need that teamwork.
“I never think it’s down to one player - I don’t believe in that way of playing man to man marking. That won’t happen. It’ll be around our team structures and making sure we do a really good job in our units to nullify space.
“Fingers crossed we can do that and keep, arguably, the best player in the world at the moment quiet.”
On beating Burnley, extending the Magpies’ unbeaten run to five games across all competitions:
“The focus of the players has been excellent, regardless of our opponent. After Milan, we immediately had Sheffield United and, of course, the result was amazing for us but you don’t get it unless the determination and collective focus is where it needs to be.
“Man City and Burnley were really tough games but I have to compliment the players on how level they’ve stayed. No over emotion in any moment, good or bad, so far this season and that’s a really good sign as the games continue to come thick and fast.”
- Date: Saturday, September 30th
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST / 10:00 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)