Date: Thursday, 25th Oct.
Kick off: 8:05pm
Referee: Martin Hansson.
UK TV: ESPN.
Brugge come to St James’ Park this evening as leaders of the Belgian Pro League, though on the back of a fairly heavy 4-1 defeat against Oud-Heverlee Leuven (the home of “Stella Artois” beer).
However, this was their first league defeat of the season, with their record before that being D,D,W,D,W,W,W,D,W,W. Their only other defeat this season was their 4-0 Europa League hammering by Bordeaux. Of course, we beat Bordeaux convincingly in our last Europa game, 3-0 at our place, though if you think that makes the Belgians a pushover it’s not as simple as that. Brugge went on to do better than us in their next Europa League game, a 2-0 defeat of Maritimo where we could only manage a 0-0 draw.
This will be our first game against Brugge in European competition. Their last matches against English opposition in this competition were two legs at the same group stage last season against Chris Hughton’s Birmingham City. In those games they were beaten 1-2 at home by Birmingham, drawing 2-2 in their away leg at St Andrew’s.
Brugge’s manager is 63 year old Georges Leekens, and old campaigner who has managed no less than 20 clubs, a kind of Belgian Roy Hodgson. His previous position was as manager of the Belgian national side which he took to the last World Cup, however he was fired after they only came third in the Group Stages. It was his second time as manager of Belgium and he was also a national team manager for Algeria briefly. This is also his second spell as manager of Club Brugge and he has also managed their local rivals, Cercle Brugge too.
One thing about these slightly inconsistent results in our group seems to be switching to a 4-4-2 formation and coming a cropper. Bordeaux should be the strongest team besides ourselves in this group, and even at St James’ Park, they should have given us a real run for our money in our last Europa game. However, their manager Francis Gillot, a great “tinkerman” decided to try and play Pardew at his own game with a 4-4-2 formation. However, Pardew for once sent the lads flying out of traps with an attacking 4-3-3, dominated from the start and was 2-0 up by half time, and 3-0 up just a few minutes after they resumed for the second half. It was an excellent move by the silver one. Why oh why doesn’t he do it more often?
On this evening’s opponents, they usually line up in a 4-3-3 formation, however they switched to a 4-4-2 in the Europa League too, and though it worked in their second leg against Hungarian side Debrecen in the qualifiers, they got that 4-0 Bordeaux hammering in their next Europa League game. They returned to their more familiar 4-3-3 shape after that and though it’s just my opinion, I think that’s how they will line up against us this evening.
There are alot of goals in the Brugge side. Their top goalscorer so far this season is recently signed Columbian hitman, 26 year old Carlos Bacca. Signed for a mere €1.5 million from Colombian side Atlético Junior, he is now a Columbian international who looks like he can be as lethal as the Medellin cartel, albeit in the Columbian and Belgian leagues. So far this season, he has scored 12 goals along with 5 assists in thirteen appearences, or 1052 minutes of playing time. This translates into a goal every 87.6 minutes. Below is a video of some of his goals since he joined Brugge. A compilation of his goals scored in Colombia is also available here.
Club Brugge’s Columbian hitman, Carlos Bacca.
Bacca isn’t Brugge’s only goal threat however, their second highest goalscorer this term is Israeli international, Lior Refaelov. He has provided 6 goals, as well as 6 assists for Brugge so far in 887 minutes of playing time, or a goal every 147.8 minutes. Midfielder Maxime Lestienne (4 goals and 1 assist this season).
Team news and squads.
Yes, getting back to our lot, Alan Pardew has been dropping some heavy hints about what his selection policy will be for this evenings game. He said:
“The team will be younger. I’m looking forward to seeing it. It’ll have a lot of energy, and we hope that’ll cause problems. It will be very similar to the one selected to play Bordeaux. That’s the best clue I can give you.”
He also dropped the names of Sammy Ameobi and the recently impressive Shane Ferguson, more or less confirming that the two young players will be playing a role in the game. He said of them:
“They are two players, I think, who can effect the first-team at this football club and take us forward as a club. It is a big game for them and they are training very, very well. We hope to see some fine performances from those two in particular tomorrow.” “We have to respect that Brugge are top of the league. We did that with Bordeaux and put a team out that was very strong, and the same will go for Brugge.”
The Silver Supremo has also confirmed that Cheik Tiote will also start this evening, due largely to a three match suspension from Premiership games for a stright red card in our last game with the Mackems. Brugge defender Bart Buysse played with Tiote at his previous club, FC Twente, and he said of Mr.T:
“I played alongside Tioté at Twente, he was already one of the better players back then. A human wall with two legs.”
Quite. Buysse is also no stranger to St James’ Park, having played against the Magpies there with Zulte-Waregem in 2007, our last foray into Europe with the Glenn Roeder’s Inter Toto winning “Dream Team.”
On injuries, Fabricio Coloccini picked up a knock in what was an excellent performance in our Mackem derby and could be a doubt, more as a precaution than anything else so i won’t put him on the “doubtful” list. Reserve goalkeeper Rob Elliot (groin) will remain out along with long term absentees, Haris Vuckic, Dan Gosling and Ryan Taylor (all knee).
Newcastle United: Tim Krul (G), Steve Harper (G), Danny Simpson (D), Mike Williamson (D), Davide Santon (D), James Tavernier (D), James Perch (D, M), Shane Ferguson (D, M), Vurnon Anita (M, D), Cheick Tiote (M), Yohan Cabaye (M), Jonas Gutierrez (M), Gael Bigirimana (M), Sylvain Marveaux (M), Gabriel Obertan (M), Mehdi Abeid (M), Romain Amalfitano (M), Hatem Ben Arfa (M, F), Sammy Ameobi (M, F), Demba Ba (F), Papiss Cisse (F), Shola Ameobi (F), Adam Campbell (F).
Knacked: Rob Elliot (G, groin), Ryan Taylor (D, M, knee – ACL), Haris Vuckic (M, F knee – ACL), Dan Gosling (knee)
Brugge have a heavy injury list too, with no less than eight players out, including some important ones such as the lightning fast striker Mohamed Tchité, whose engraved mullet hairstyles make Chris Waddles eighties efforts look stylish, as well as fellow striker Thomas Meunier. They may also have been significant goal threats if they were fit. Young midfielder Birger Verstraete will also miss out.
Club Brugge: Vladan Kujovic (G), Bojan Jorgacevic (G), Arthur Hannes (G), Tom Høgli (D), Carl Hoefkens (D), Bart Buysse (D), Jordi Figueras (D), Björn Engels (D), Jannes Vansteenkiste (D), Jesper Jørgensen (M), Jonathan Blondel (M), Victor Vazquez (M), Thibaut Van Acker (M), Vadis Odjidja (M), Lior Refaelov (M), Maxime Lestienne (M), Bjorn Vleminckx (F), Ivan Trickovski (F), Carlos Bacca (F).
Knacked: Fredrik Stenman, Jim Larsen, Ryan Donk, Niki Zimling, Mohamed Tchité, Thomas Meunier, Sven Dhoest and Michael Almebäck.
Well, despite Brugge being a fairly strong team, Pardew’s comments above about a “younger” team may throw more than a little uncertainty into the mix, as if there wasn’t enough in European competition already. As I also mentioned above, Brugge should have learned from their mistake against Bordeaux, the same one Bordeaux made against us, and also one which Pardew has been no stranger to himself in his starts to some Premiership games. Here’s hoping he starts this one with the same approach he did against Bordeaux, but keeps an eye on that Columbian hitman, Chewbacca, as well as the Israeli, Refaelov, who is more than capable of loading the bullets with his assist rate, as well as taking a few shots himself.
Howay the Lads!
ps: Two or three people have asked about walk up tickets for the game, so I thought I’d add that walk up tickets will be available for this evening’s game. Here’s the information from nufc.com here:
“Kick-off is at 8.05pm and tickets remain on sale priced at £15 adults, £10 students and £5 for OAPs and U18s (rising to £20 / £15 / £10 in bar areas).
Cash turnstiles will be open from 6.30pm at:
Sir John Hall West Corner Level 2: 10/11/12
Sir John Hall East Corner: 33/34/37/38
Gallowgate Upper: 66/67
Gallowgate West Corner: 71/72/73
Note that for those paying at the turnstiles on the night there are just two prices: £15 adults and £5 OAPs and U18s (the student rate is only for advance sales).
Advance sale collections can be made from 3.30pm at the windows on the back of the Gallowgate Upper (above Shearer’s Bar). Note that all tickets are paper ones – there have been no uploads to season ticket cards.”