When the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia took over Newcastle in October 2021, I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how quickly Newcastle would become a staple at the top of English football. When Eddie Howe was appointed to spearhead the project, it was generally seen as a very naive appointment if The Magpies were to actually battle for the top of the Premier League. Fast forward to the present, and Newcastle is one of the most exciting teams — not just in England, but in all of Europe. A very impressive and quite unexpected fourth-place finish saw them jump straight into the Champions League, and although Newcastle was placed in pot 4, they couldn’t be further from it. To anyone wondering, trust me when I say, that this Newcastle side is as legit as they come.
In nine Premier League matches, Eddie Howe’s men have scored 24 goals (with an xG of 22.51 according to Understat), and at the same time, they have only let in 9 goals (with an xGA of 8.92). So far this season, they’ve managed some very impressive results. They have beaten PSG 4-1, Manchester City 1-0 and Sheffield United 8-0. They have not lost in their last eight games, and their squad boasts elite players such as Bruno Guimarães, Kieran Trippier and former Dortmund striker, Alexander Isak. The English side also signed Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali in summer, but due to an ongoing investigation on illegal betting activities, I’m not quite sure whether he’ll be in action.
Buckle up, friends. This will be one of — if not the hardest game for The Black-and-yellows so far this season.
Youssoufa Moukoko and Julien Duranville will not be available for Wednesday’s match. Other than that, Edin Terzic has a full squad at his disposal. Dortmund really need points, and even though St. James Park is known to be one of the hardest away grounds to play at, I hope that Terzic will try and attack the game instead of what he tried against PSG.
Although Reyna did very well against Werder Bremen, I don’t expect him to be quite fit enough for a sport in the starting XI. I think Felix Nmecha is gonna be rewarded with another start with either Can or Özcan beside him. I’ve opted for Özcan, as I think he isn’t as erratic on the ball as Emre, and I fully expect any minor mistake to be punished against a very aggressive Newcastle side. Brandt and Reus have both been decent against the ball, and as I don’t expect Dortmund to have much possession, I think they’re the best options. Lastly, I think Bensebaini’s fighting nature can be a big benefit, and I think he’ll be a key player in terms of keeping Miguel Almiron and/or Jacob Murphy in check.
Player to Watch: Alexander Isak
It feels like a lifetime ago that Alexander Isak was a young prospect at Dortmund. Since leaving The Ruhr District, Isak has made quite a name for himself at both Real Sociedad and Newcastle. In his time in Premier League, the now 24-year old Swedish striker has managed 16 goals and 2 assists across 2022 minutes, averaging a goal contribution every 112th minutes.
Isak has become quite the complete striker that Dortmund hoped to benefit from all the way back when they first signed him in 2017. He’s a tall, very technical striker with an instinctive finishing ability and an innate ability to set up teammates as well. If you want a taste of what’s to come, you might wanna look at this insane assist against Everton.
If I don’t predict a win, I basically predict that Dortmund will be out of the Champions League. I’m not gonna lie — I think Dortmund are gonna have it very rough against Newcastle. Eddie Howe’s team just seems to be in perfect sync at the moment, whereas Dortmund are scraping 1-0 victories over the line against Bundesliga relegation candidates. Although I think there has been some improvement in Dortmund’s play recently, I don’t see it as quite enough for three points at St. James. I predict a 3-1 win for Newcastle.