By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Alan Pardew believes his Newcastle United side are in a great position to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League - but knows it's win or bust against Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday night.
Last week's 0-0 draw in Moscow set the Magpies up nicely for the second leg at St. James' Park, but only a win would take them through with a score draw enough for the men from Russia, who would progress on away goals.
It all points to a dramatic night under the Gallowgate floodlights and Pardew revealed that he has spoken to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers about their opponents, who played the Reds twice in the group stages. Stewart Downing's goal gave the Merseysiders a 1-0 win at Anfield in October, but Lacina Traore struck the only goal in the return fixture a month later.
However, if Newcastle can match Liverpool's achievement in beating Anzhi on English soil they would make the last eight and Pardew admitted: "I think it's a great position for us.
"It's quite simple: we need to win. If you're going to go through in a tie, you want to win. You don't want to win on away goals, you've got to win the game. The agenda's in front of us, the emphasis is on us and we'll have 42,000 Geordies in here going mad.
"They have had experience of playing against Premier League opposition this year, at Liverpool - they lost 1-0 - and I think this game will be tougher for them.
"I spoke to Brendan Rodgers about the two fixtures that they had. Of course I'm not going to disclose the ins and outs of what we both felt tactically might be the answer but he was very complimentary of their ability and their players.
"He gave me a couple of little warnings and a couple of pieces he thought we could benefit from - no more than that.
"We've also done an analytical study of their games. We watched and analysed their game on Sunday so we know all we need to know about the opposition.
"That doesn't mean to say we can stop them - they've got some outstanding players and one of the best managers in the last two or three decades in charge so it's a tough agenda for us, make no mistake.
"But I still have a strong feeling that we can win, and our fans will on the back of three home wins. We're going into it with good confidence.
"I think it's two really, really good sides - there's no doubt about that.
"They have good quality. Jucilei, who our fans won't know, sits in front of their back four and is an outstanding player. They obviously have (Samuel) Eto'o and if Willian plays, they have offensive players that are going to cause us trouble.
"But we're really in good form and we have a great spirit at the training ground at the moment. It's a great opportunity for us and we're going to try and take that."
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