• Newcastle v Maritimo, Europa League

Tough Europa League test facing Newcastle

ESPN staff
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Newcastle will look to Papiss Cisse to fire them to victory © PA Photos
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Newcastle's Europa League clash against Maritimo is exclusively live on ESPN on Thursday - 8pm kick-off. Click here for how to subscribe

Victory over Maritimo can secure Newcastle's passage into the knockout stages of the Europe League - a competition Magpies boss Alan Pardew feels is tougher to win than the Champions League.

Europa League standings

The Magpies are unbeaten in their four games in the Europa League, but they have not matched those achievements domestically and Pardew feels their European adventure is hampering them in the Premier League.

Should Newcastle make it all the way to the Europa League final they will have played 17 times in Europe. Pardew feels it is too tough a schedule and believes the competition should revert back to a straight knockout format.

"Should it be knockout all the way? Yes, probably," Pardew said. "I do think that in the Premier League we play a heavier schedule than most European leagues and I do think, for Premier League teams, it is really difficult in this competition.

"And that is probably why we have not been that successful in it, to some degree.

"I do feel that perhaps it needs to be looked at a little bit. Whether Spanish clubs or German clubs have the same opinion, I am not sure.

"You only have to look at the other two [Premier League] clubs in the competition (Tottenham and Liverpool). We're all having very similar seasons at the moment, and they are stronger clubs than us financially.

"It just goes to show that it does make a big impact on your Premier League situation.

"I think it is harder for us (to win the Europa League than the Champions League). I genuinely do. The four Champions League teams have the finance to attack that with two squads really, whereas we are attacking a competition which has a heavier schedule, a more difficult night in Thursday night and a much reduced squad, so it is much more difficult for us."

Pardew will be without his two central-midfield stars, with Cheik Tiote suspended and Yohan Cabaye out due to a groin injury that requires surgery. Striker Papiss Cisse is likely to be thrust into action, having been a frustrated spectator at the weekend due a wrangle over his availability between the Magpies and the Senegal FA.

Newcastle player to watch:
Cisse has had a difficult time this season, with his form some way below what he showed upon his arrival at Newcastle last term. Having been sidelined for the weekend loss to Swansea, the striker will look to channel that frustration into goals.

Maritimo player to watch:
Valentin Roberge has scored the only goal Maritimo have to their name in the competition to date. It will be his defensive talents that will be put to the test at St James' Park.

Betting:
Maritimo have been woeful in front of goal so far and take that to continue. A Newcastle win to nil is 6/5 with bet365.

Prediction: 2-0

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