- Magpies return to Champions League group stage after two decades
- Wilson pledges United will go to San Siro to compete
- Milan suffer derby defeat before Newcastle showdown
Striker Callum Wilson has stated that Newcastle United’s tough Champions League group gives them an “opportunity” to prove the doubters wrong.
The Magpies, back in the group stage of Europe’s flagship competition for the first time since 2002-03, have been drawn against AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Paris St-Germain in their group. They begin their Champions League campaign with a trip to the San Siro to face Milan.
Wilson confident Newcastle will go to compete
There have been very few blips since boss Eddie Howe took over in November 2021 following the takeover in November 2021, however, after an opening day success against Aston Villa, Howe’s side lost three matches in a row before returning to winning ways against Brentford, courtesy of a Wilson penalty.
What has been overlooked has been the quality of the opposition Newcastle have faced. No team has had a tougher start. And while they will be disappointed with some of the results and performances, it should be noted that they have the same points total as they did after five games last season, when they went on to finish fourth in the Premier League and secure Champions League football.
Speaking on The Footballer’s Football Podcast, Wilson’s co-presenter, West Ham United forward Michail Antonio, joked that Newcastle could find the group too hot to handle. However, he then added that this could take the pressure off the Geordies.
Wilson responded by saying that it was a great chance for United to test their mettle as they battle to establish themselves as a club who can consistently compete against the elite, domestically and in Europe.
Wilson said: “That’s cool. There is no pressure on us. You can look at it as a threat or opportunity. We have an opportunity to go into the Champions League, play against the best teams that have been here for many years, go toe-to-toe with them. No one is backing us. We weren’t down as favourites to win the competition so why not have the best chance to challenge yourself and try to progress that way.
“We are not going to these stadiums to spectate and be a tourist. We are going to put in a performance and go toe-to-toe. That’s what we worked so hard last season for, to not get to this point now and then start falling away and getting nervous when it gets to this situation. Everyone says you want Champions League, OK we have got it, so let’s show why you deserve to be there.”
Wilson went on to say that he expects an “unbelievable” atmosphere for the home ties. A bouncing St. James’ Park is not a venue many teams will relish visiting.
Milan go into Magpies clash on back of derby defeat
It could be either the best time or the worst time for Newcastle to play Milan, depending on how you look at things. The Rossoneri lost 5-1 to Inter in the Derby della Madonnina on Saturday night with Stefano Pioli, AC Milan’s Coach, being asked afterwards if he should apologise to the fans. To make matters worse it was an historic fifth win in a row against their City rivals for Inter, who are favourites for the Serie A title.
Milan were performing above expectations this season before the derby loss. However, discontent has not been far from the surface with the team looking brittle defensively from the start of the season and with supporters unhappy that midfielder Sandro Tonali, a supporter of the club, was allowed to leave for Newcastle. Something which is bound to add spice on Tuesday evening. However, Milan have some good players, many of whom are familiar with English football and they could use the Newcastle game as an ideal chance to bounce back.
Newcastle and Milan have never met in European competition, however, the Magpies have come up against city rivals Inter a couple of times, most recently in 2003 and are unbeaten at the San Siro going into the match. Bettors will need to weigh up the form of both teams, and decide whether Newcastle are capable of hitting last season’s heights and whether Milan are capable of responding positively to Saturday’s derby defeat. As ever, check the team news as kick off approaches.
Betfred, at the time of writing are anticipating a match that could go either way. They currently have both Milan and Newcastle as 8/5 to win with a draw at 9/4.
Newcastle are currently second favourites to win Group F. Bet365, at the time of writing, have Newcastle priced at 9/4, behind PSG (11/10) and ahead of Milan (5/1) and Borussia Dortmund (11/2). If you want to bet on Newcastle to qualify, bet365, at the time of writing have them priced at 2/3. PSG are again favourites (2/5) with Milan at 11/8 and Dortmund at 3/2.