Tonight’s opposition comes in the shape of Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv, and many Newcastle fans will admit they don’t know a lot about them. So, who are the main danger men to cast an eye over?
The Magpies can count themselves lucky that attacking midfielder Taison is no longer at Kharkiv, having moved on in the January window to Ukraine’s top team Donetsk. However there’s still an abundance of talent in their squad and they will definitely provide a threat. Here’s the top three that we’ve picked out:
Jose Ernesto Sosa – Centre Midfield
Argentine Sosa has been captain of the club since the July 2012, having joined exactly a year earlier from Napoli. He has enjoyed an illustrious career so far, starting in his homeland for Estudiantes LP before playing for German giants Bayern Munich.
Perhaps his highlight to date is a superb goal in the 2006 Apertura final play-off game, scoring the equalizer direct from a free-kick against Boca Juniors. This helped his side win their first league title since 1983. He’s also featured 18 times for the national side, as recently as 2011. He’s still only 27, and is a key cog in the wheel for Metalist. Definitely one Newcastle will need to keep a very close eye on indeed.
Jonathan Cristaldo – Striker
Another Argentinian, Cristaldo is probably going to be deployed up-front against Newcastle, and the 23 year old is certainly not going to give the Toon’s defenders an easy ride.Capped once, in 2011 against Poland, the 5 ft 9 front man has scored at a rate of almost one every other game since moving to Metalist two years ago. With 23 goals in 48 appearances, he will provide a constant goal threat.
Edmar Aparecida – Centre Midfield
Ukrainian by nationality but born and raised in Brazil, Aparecida is the vice-captain. His name may be familiar to English football fans, particularly the blue half of Merseyside, after scoring in both legs against Everton in this competition back in 2007. Earning them a famous draw at Goodison Park 1-1, Kharkiv went down 3-2 at home.
The 32 year old plays a vital role in the middle of the park, and has been known to consistently chip in with goals. With 144 league appearances for the club and having played with them in Europe before, his experience could also be very important.
Of course, there are other important players within the Metalist Kharkiv squad. Two more Argentine’s in Cristian Villagra and Marco Torsiglieri are important defenders, and the 18 year old Denys Barvinko is a huge prospect in Ukrainian football and could well be involved. Newcastle are the favourites, and rightly so, but they will need to stay alert.
What’s your score prediction for the game tonight at St James’ Park?
By Harry Aitkenhead
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