HomeWorld NewsWhat group of death? Newcastle fans delight over Champions League draw as St. James’ Park factor could see Magpies top PSG
What group of death? Newcastle fans delight over Champions League draw as St. James’ Park factor could see Magpies top PSG
September 1, 2023
It was the moment of the night in Monaco as everyone drew a breath when Newcastle were named in Champions League Group F.
Back on Tyneside, though, that wide-eyed shock quickly turned into sheer excitement.
Formatting meant that of the three groups left when Newcastle were drawn, a trio of Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan was the hardest pick, but also the most thrilling.
So when the inevitable happened for most fans, the buzz over a 20-year return reached fever-pitch due to the European prestige on show.
Flares and tifos at the Parc des Princes, the Yellow Wall in Dortmund, and footballing heritage at San Siro, away trips hardly get much better, but when it comes down to the on-pitch matters, things back home may prove to be even more important.
A packed St. James’ Park could well be decisive against teams with exceptional knockout pedigree, and fans and experts are certain that the three travelling giants are in for a shock.
Former Magpies boss and talkSPORT host Alan Pardew explained: “It’s going to be very, very difficult for those teams to get results at St. James’ Park.
“We got to the quarter-finals of the Europa League with Benfica and the atmosphere was unbelievable, I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like for a Champions League game.
“I think it’s a tough call to get out of this group, but they’ve got a great chance, and if Eddie [Howe] can do that it will be a real feather in his cap because it is a tough, tough group.”
Club legend Alan Shearer summed up fans’ emotions, unable to stop grinning as he said: “So this is what all the Geordies wanted, Newcastle in the Champions League, and wow it didn’t disappoint.
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“What a draw, PSG, Dortmund and AC Milan, I can just imagine five or six thousand fans going mad in Milan, Dortmund and Paris.
“What a draw, Geordies will be delighted, it’s what we all wanted, it’s what we worked so hard for last season, to get back amongst the big boys, and we’ve certainly done that.”
Outside of the excitement, can Newcastle do it? Can they make it into the knockouts at the first time of asking back in the competition? Well the bookies have them second behind PSG.
And talkSPORT’s resident European football expert, Kevin Hatchard, can see why.
“I think it’s tremendous, I think they should embrace it, they can get through,” he began.
“I know I said it’s the group of death, and it is, but you look at those four sides, Paris will be the favourites, but I wouldn’t say that there’s much between the other three.
“I could see any combination going through, Paris will go through but the other three will be scrapping for that final place and any of them could get it.”
Going even further than that was two-time Champions League winner Owen Hardgraves, who was able to give his European perspective on affairs too.
The former Bayern man certainly isn’t impressed by the mess at Paris, with the club holding onto star man Kylian Mbappe, despite seemingly being desperate to get rid of him before his contract runs out.
Newcastle don’t have such distractions, and won’t just be a task for Dortmund and Milan, according to the former England international.
“They’re such a brilliant side, the way they work both on and off the ball,” he explained.
“Eddie Howe has done an amazing job to get this group of players into the Champions League, and I like the squad depth.
“[Sandro] Tonali is a good addition, another ball player to go with [Bruno] Guimaraes and Joelinton in that midfield. I’m looking forward to watching Newcastle in the Champions League.
“I think Eddie Howe has got a great group of players to go and compete. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get it right, they even top that group.”
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