After a narrow defeat away at Benfica last time out, Newcastle United will return to St James’ Park to take on Atalanta BC on Friday as their pre-season preparations continue.
The Magpies were eventually beaten 3-2 in the Eusebio Cup in Lisbon after a pair of wins and a defeat to Mainz, while their visitors have put up four rampant victories against lower-league sides.
After last season’s improvements under Eddie Howe, in which they moved from the foot of the Premier League to an 11th-placed finish around the time of the takeover of the club, Newcastle United will be full of optimism ahead of the new term.
Having already acquired goalkeeper Nick Pope and highly-acclaimed centre-back Sven Botman from Lille, while making Matt Targett’s move from Aston Villa permanent, the Magpies will hope to continue their improvement in the English top flight and push towards the top half, and they got their pre-season campaign underway with a 5-1 victory over Gateshead.
Miguel Almiron hit a brace in that win alongside goals from Matt Ritchie, Joelinton and Sean Longstaff, before a 3-0 triumph over 1860 Munchen – thanks to goals from Longstaff, Joe Willock and Bruno Guimaraes, was followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mainz 05.
Howe’s side most recently travelled to Lisbon to take on Benfica in the Eusebio Cup on Tuesday, and, despite Almiron hitting his second brace of pre-season in the first half, they were eventually beaten 3-2 as Henrique Araujo hit the decisive goal in the dying minutes.
Now with just the Atalanta friendly and a contest with Athletic Bilbao before their league campaign kicks off with a home clash against Nottingham Forest at the beginning of August, the Magpies will look to bounce back to winning ways and build momentum with a home victory on Friday.
They welcome an Atalanta side whose preparations will ramp up after four dominant showings in pre-season so far, following a somewhat disappointing eight-placed finish in Serie A by their own high standards.
La Dea began with a training camp and posted 15-0, 10-0 and 12-1 wins over Rappresentativa Valseriana, Rappresentativa Valli Bergamasche and Gambarogno-Contone respectively, with Jeremie Boga and Luis Muriel hitting six goals each along the way and Aleksei Miranchuk and Mario Pasalic netting hat-tricks in the first and third games respectively.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men most recently took on Italian second-tier side Como, and they continued a streak of convincing victories as Jose Luis Palomino, Ederson, Nadir Zortea and Sam Lammers all hit second-half goals in a 4-0 win.
Now taking on European top-flight opposition for the first time this pre-season, before their league term starts with a trip to Sampdoria in mid-August, La Dea will hope to continue building confidence and secure what would be an impressive friendly win in England.
Newcastle United pre-season form:
Newcastle United form (all competitions):
Atalanta BC pre-season form:
Atalanta BC form (all competitions):
We say: Newcastle United 3-2 Atalanta BC
If both teams field relatively strong squads, we anticipate an exciting and end-to-end encounter at St James’ Park.
Both have shown their ability in front of goal so far in pre-season and should each cause one another problems, and we just lean towards Howe’s side on home turf in what will likely be a high-scoring affair.