Newcastle vs. Benfica, 2013 UEFA Europa League: Preview and TV schedule

Michael Steele

The Magpies are up against a tough task, but the return of Hatem Ben Arfa could be the boost they need to defeat Benfica by multiple goals on Thursday.

With a bit more luck, Newcastle could have grabbed a win in Portugal in the first leg of their Europa League tie against Benfica. They were the better side early in the match, but they missed a number of chances and let the hosts back into the game. While they did grab one away goal, they have more work to do than they should have, and overturning a 3-1 loss is going to prove a difficult proposition.

However, Newcastle will like their chances of scoring at least twice if Hatem Ben Arfa is able to make a lengthy appearance. He's recently returned to training after recovering from a hamstring injury that was though to be season-ending, and is expected to at least make the bench. In the absence of Yoan Gouffran, who is cup-tied, his presence will provide a huge boost.

Newcastle injures and suspensions

Out: Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon, Cheick Tiote, Mathieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran. In doubt: Hatem Ben Arfa, Steven Taylor.

Benfica injuries and suspensions

Out: None

Well, those are certainly very different lists. Benfica have absolutely no injury concerns to speak of, while Newcastle have a bunch. Debuchy and Gouffran are ineligible due to their play for other teams earlier in the competition. Taylor will probably want to play as long as he has two legs to stand on.

Match date/time: Thursday, 8 pm local, 3 pm ET

Venue: St. James' Park, Newcastle, England

TV: ITV 4 (U.K.), FOX Soccer Plus (U.S.), Sportsnet One (Canada), SIC (Portugal)

Online: FOX Soccer 2 Go (U.S.)

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