Alan Pardew

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Alan Pardew believes his side will have to overcome one of the "best teams in Europe" in Benfica if they are to reach the semi-finals of this season's Europa League.

The Newcastle boss and his players landed in Lisbon on Tuesday afternoon ahead of their last eight first leg tie at the Estadio da Luz on Thursday.

Benfica are top of their domestic league, four points clear of Porto, have yet to lose all season and have dropped just eight points in their 24 games so far.

And although they didn't fare quite so well in the Champions League group stages, they still gained an impressive 0-0 draw against Barcelona at the Nou Camp before beating Bayer Leverkusen and Bordeaux home and away in the Europa League.

Pardew's side, meanwhile, reached this stage thanks to aggregate victories over Metalist Kharkiv and Anzhi Makhachkala and the Magpies manager knows United will be up against one of the biggest clubs on the continent in the Portuguese capital.

"We've got a good knowledge of Benfica, as they will of us," he said. "They're top (of their league) and they look like they're going to win it to me.

"We'll have played two of the best teams in Europe, I think, in Manchester City and Benfica this week."

At the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, the Toon Army had to sit and suffer a 4-0 defeat but Pardew believes the fans will find their latest away day rather more enjoyable.

"It's a wonderful city," he said. "I've been there three or four times and it's a great footballing city.

"They're going to really, really love it there and hopefully they conduct themselves like they have in the other European games, where they've been absolutely excellent."

Tickets for the second leg at St. James' Park next week are on sale now - click here