Newcastle face ‘defining moment’ against PSG

 

Newcastle United Head Coach Eddie Howe speaks to media during the Newcastle United Training and Press Conference for the UEFA Champions League at Parc des Princes on November 27, 2023 in Paris, France.

Eddie Howe has acknowledged that Newcastle have reached a “defining moment” in their Champions League campaign and will need to “play on the edge” at Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night.

Much has changed since Newcastle swatted a visibly stunned PSG aside 4-1 at St James’ Park in October, most notably the injury crisis which has 12 senior players in treatment rooms on Tyneside rather than preparing for combat at the Parc des Princes. Two subsequent European defeats against Borussia Dortmund have left Newcastle bottom of Group F and aware that defeat in Paris will spell elimination from the competition’s group stages.

Yet, as Chelsea discovered when they endured a 4-1 defeat of their own at St James’ Park last Saturday, Howe’s players remain dangerous and never more so than when their adrenaline levels spike.

“We need to play on the edge,” said the Newcastle manager, who knows a third-place finish next month would lead to his side being admitted to the knockout rounds of the Europa League. “Every team is at their best when they have that different emotion running through them. We need every ounce of motivation and energy to get a result here.

“But this is a defining moment in our campaign and we are going to give it everything. We are going to need to be as good as we know we can be. We are not in the position we want to be but this is a huge moment in our season. The motivation couldn’t be bigger. It’s imperative we don’t lose. Fear of failure is a major motivation in my career, losing doesn’t sit comfortably with me, and that applies to this match.”

At St James’ Park, Luis Enrique made the mistake of fielding four forwards only to find his expensively assembled side overrun in midfield and Kylian Mbappé and co starved of service. PSG’s manager is unlikely to fall into that trap again, and on Monday admitted that he views Newcastle’s visit as akin to a “cup final”.

While PSG are second in the group, a point behind Dortmund, they are only two in front of Newcastle and one ahead of the third-placed Milan. With two games to go everything is delicately poised, and Howe’s determination to reach the knockout phase saw him abandon his previous habit of training on Tyneside the day before European games in order to give his squad a feel of the Parc des Princes pitch as they were put through their paces in Paris on Monday night. “We are trying something different,” Howe said. “You never know how these things might affect your performance.”

While the 17-year-old Lewis Miley, who was outstanding against Chelsea, is poised to start in central midfield, the injured Joe Willock will see a specialist on Tuesday about an Achilles problem. 

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