Papiss Cisse

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Pre-season opponents SC Braga are a team already familiar to Newcastle, having faced the Magpies in the Trofeu Internacional de Futebol do Guadiana last summer, but Rio Ave and Pacos de Ferreira are something of an unknown quantity for the Magpies.

United have never played either of the northern Portuguese sides before but, having been knocked out of the Europa League by eventual finalists Benfica last season and drawn twice with Maritimo in the group stages, they know just how how strong the Primeira Liga is.

Rio Ave finished sixth last term - the second-best finish in their history - and as well as drawing at home with eventual champions Porto, they beat the mighty Sporting Lisbon three times, twice in the league and once in the cup. Meanwhile Pacos de Ferreira shocked everyone by finishing third behind Porto and Benfica to reach the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Newcastle take on Rio Ave - or Rio Grande as they're nicknamed - on Saturday, 20th July at their 12,815 capacity Estadio do Rio Ave before facing Pacos de Ferreira three days later at the Estadio da Capital do Movel, which holds 5,255.

Founded in 1939, Rio Ave play in green and white stripes and are managed by Nuno Espírito Santo. Real Madrid's Fábio Coentrão is one of several notable former players.

Pacos de Ferreira, are managed by former Portugal international Costinha. They were founded in 1950, play in yellow and green and their nickname of Os Castores translates as The Beavers. They pipped Braga into the third and final Champions League place by two points last term. 

Jesualdo Ferreira's Arcebispos come to St. James' Park on Saturday, 10th August in the Magpies' final friendly of this summer.

Newcastle were 2-1 winners when the sides met last year, with Demba Ba and Ryan Taylor on target against a side who had finished third in the previous season.

To see Newcastle United's full pre-season schedule, click here