MARITIMO arrived on Tyneside as a side with a point to prove and nothing to lose.
So Newcastle United would be well warned not to take their opponents lightly or tonight’s match at St James’ Park could turn out far more difficult than really it should be.
Of the nine Portuguese League and European fixtures Maritimo have played since Newcastle’s visit to the Estadio dos Barreiros on September 20, they have won just one and lost six. This is not a team in great form. If Maritimo don’t beat Newcastle, then their Europa League adventure will draw to a close tonight with one round of fixtures still to go.
The Madeirans sit at the foot of Group D with only two points from four games after home draws with both the Magpies and French side Bordeaux.
However, they have not made the journey to England just to take photographs of the nice big Premier League stadium. Coach Pedro Martins said: “We come here under pressure, but this should be the type of game all players want to be involved in.
“This is going to be difficult, but we believe we can get a big result. We have been looking forward to this match.
“We are incredibly motivated to do well and we are able to have a good night.
“Newcastle lost their last two games, which I have watched, and maybe their confidence is down a little, but I am not so sure that affects this game. We have a small but young squad which is desperate to do well for the football club.” Brazilian midfielder Rafael Miranda felt this was a match his team could win and promised Newcastle they would need to do some defending.
He said: “I believe we can score. I am very confident about that.”
Club president Carlos Pereira added: “We recognise it will be difficult, given Newcastle have a much higher budget than ours, but we know with a win it still be possible to progress.”