"It's a great draw for us," enthused Newcastle United FC's Alan Pardew after his team were pitted against two-time European Cup winners SL Benfica in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
The Magpies manager is looking forward to visiting the Estádio da Luz – "a fantastic stadium" which hosted UEFA Champions League football earlier this season – for the first leg on 4 April in what will be the English club's second venture to Portugal in 2012/13, having drawn 0-0 with CS Marítimo in the group stage.
As perhaps an indicator of Benfica's status as one of the favourites to go all the way, director and former Eagles winger Rui Costa said "all the teams wanted to avoid" the Lisbon side, who are unbeaten in all competitions since 23 October.
Rui Costa, Benfica director
We are down to the best eight teams, so there was not much to choose from. Newcastle deserve all our respect but we trust in ourselves. We will give our best to go through. I felt all the teams wanted to avoid us and that is a sign of respect for what we have been doing and shows our credibility in European football. We are well regarded and that's because of the good work we have been doing and our victories. We have shown that it makes no difference whether we are home or away. That doesn't worry me. We are going to prepare well and try to go as far as we can.
Alan Pardew, Newcastle manager
It's a great draw for us. The Estádio da Luz is a great venue. I've been there and it's a fantastic stadium. Importantly, we are at home in the second leg and that will give us an advantage. I'm sure we will have a full house for that. After what the stadium was like last night, I know it will be another brilliant atmosphere and let's hope we can bring a result back from Benfica in the first leg.
The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.
Benfica's 29 previous matches against English teams have ended W9 D4 L16 (W6 D3 L5 at home – W3 D1 L11 in England). They have not won in their last five games against English opposition.
Newcastle's 11 fixtures against Portuguese clubs produce a record of W4 D5 L2 (W4 D2 L0 at home – W0 D3 L2 in Portugal).
Losing UEFA Cup finalists in 1982/83, Benfica avoided Tottenham Hotspur FC in the draw, leaving open the possibility that they might be reunited in the semi-finals. The Eagles eliminated Spurs at that stage en route to lifting the 1961/62 European Champion Clubs' Cup in Amsterdam.
Benfica have lost all five of their previous quarter-finals against English sides – four in the European Cup and one in the UEFA Cup. Newcastle were last in the quarter-finals of this competiton in 2004/05, when they succumbed to Benfica's Lisbon rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal.
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