It's been a rough season domestically for Newcastle United, where they looked as if they'd be in a relegation battle well into the spring before they made a huge splash in the January transfer window. Now that they have that influx of new talent, they're playing great football, and they'll be looking at the Europa League as more than just a nice place to get some of their younger players more experienced. There's no reason their goal can't be to win the trophy.
They come up against a tough test in Metalist Kharkiv in the Round of 32. The Ukranian side has been here quite a few times before, and made a nice run to the quarterfinal of last season's tournament. Their star winger, Taison, was sold in January, but they still have a very good squad with plenty of young and veteran attacking talent.
With a trip to Kharkiv -- where the weather is awful this time of year -- looming, Newcastle probably need to establish a lead in the first leg. The weather in Newcastle isn't exactly tropical, but Kharkiv is a completely different animal.
Match date/time: Thursday, 3:05 p.m. ET, 8:05 p.m. local
Venue: St. James' Park, Newcastle, England
TV: ESPN (U.K.), FOX Soccer Plus (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)
Online: FOX Soccer 2 Go (U.S.)