Benfica look for Newcastle improvement

SL Benfica have lost all five of their previous European quarter-finals against English clubs but will hope that their luck turns as they play host to Newcastle United FC.

Benfica celebrate an Óscar Cardozo goal
Benfica celebrate an Óscar Cardozo goal ©AFP/Getty Images

On a four-game winning streak since entering the UEFA Europa League, SL Benfica will look to crack open a mean Newcastle United FC defence in their quarter-final opener in Lisbon.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time.

• Benfica's 29 previous games against English sides 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 Premier League opposition, a run that includes three defeats.

• Newcastle's record in five UEFA games against Portuguese sides is W1 D3 L1 (W1 D2 L0 at home – W0 D1 L1 in Portugal). Newcastle were last in the quarter-finals of this competition in 2004/05, where they lost out to Benfica's Lisbon rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal, current Eagles star Carlos Martins playing in both legs.

• In addition, the Magpies played six games against Portuguese sides in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the non-UEFA affiliated predecessor of the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League, with the record W3 D2 L1 (W3 D0 L0 at home - W0 D2 L1 in Portugal). They beat Vitória FC in the quarter-finals en route to winning the 1968/69 edition.

• Benfica have lost all five of their previous quarter-finals against English clubs – four in the European Cup and one in the UEFA Europa League.

• Benfica avoided Tottenham 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 winning the 1961/62 European Champions Clubs' Cup final in Amsterdam, which will stage this season's UEFA Europa League final.

Match background
• Benfica have four wins out of four in this season's competition. They have also won their last four home games in Europe, and are unbeaten in 13 UEFA Europa League home fixtures (W12 D1, including play-off matches) since the advent of the competition.

• Benfica are the only side in the quarter-finals who have reached this stage since the last UEFA Cup edition in 2008/09. Indeed, they have reached the last eight in all three of their UEFA Europa League campaigns.

• Newcastle have kept four consecutive clean sheets and need one more to set a new competition record since the advent of the UEFA Europa League.

• The Magpies have scored just nine goals since the start of the group stage.

• Newcastle have won just one of their six UEFA Europa League away games this season, but have also secured four draws on their travels.

• Three English teams – Chelsea FC, Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur FC – have reached the last eight. In each of the previous two seasons in which a country has taken three clubs to the quarter-finals, one of that number has gone on to win the trophy – FC Porto (Portugal) in 2010/11 and Club Atlético de Madrid (Spain) a year later – beating opponents from their own country in the final.

• Benfica and Chelsea are the only sides left in the competition who transferred from the UEFA Champions League group stage. They will be hoping to emulate the feat of inaugural winners Atlético, who won the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League after entering in the knockout phase.

Team facts
• Newcastle defender Vurnon Anita celebrates his 24th birthday on the day of the game; goalkeeper Tim Krul turns 25 on the eve of the match.

• Newcastle defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will turn 24 on 15 May, the day of the UEFA Europa League final in Amsterdam.

• Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi is in line to make his 50th appearance in UEFA club competition, his previous 49 having produced 15 goals.

• Óscar Cardozo's two goals for Benfica in the round of 16 second leg took his total in the UEFA Europa League to 16 – making him the second highest scorer (group stage to final) in the competition, behind Falcao (31). He needs one more to match the record tally for one club, Falcao having scored 17 of his goals for FC Porto.

• FC Basel 1893's David Degen has made 44 UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League appearances – more than any player left in the competition, though Benfica's Luisão is just behind him with 43.

• No Newcastle player has featured in all ten games since the start of the group stage, with Anita, Sylvain Marveaux and Ameobi making eight appearances each.

• Jorge Jesus started his career as a midfielder at Sporting Clube de Portugal, and played for a number of smaller sides, hanging up his boots in 1989. He worked his way up the leagues as a coach, with successful spells at CF Os Belenenses and SC Braga – who he led to the 2008/09 UEFA Europa League round of 16 – heralding a move to Benfica. In 2009/10, he won the Portuguese title in his first season with the Eagles.

• Newcastle's Alan Pardew was the 2011/12 Premier League manager of the year, having been in charge of Reading FC, West Ham United FC, Charlton Athletic FC and Southampton FC prior to a move to Tyneside in 2010. A glazier and taxi driver while playing non-league football, the midfielder was in his mid-20s when he became a professional, playing for Crystal Palace FC and Charlton among others.