NEWCASTLE United could face one of this season’s Champions League qualifiers in the first knockout round of the Europa League – regardless of what happens at the Stade Chaban Delmas tonight.
With both teams qualified for the next stage, the leadership of Group D is all that is at stake when Newcastle meet Bordeaux.
After dropping two points at home to Maritimo in their last game, only a win will be enough for the Magpies to finish top.
Claiming that spot has its advantages, but it will not spare them from the teams parachuted into the competition.
Eight Champions League teams join in at the knockout stage as a reward for finishing third in their group.
The 12 Europa League group winners will face either the teams who qualify as group runners-up, or the four lowest-ranked third-placed Champions League teams.
As group winners, Newcastle’s main reward would be the fact the second leg is guaranteed to be at St James’ Park. Finish second and they will be at home first.
Come what may, Newcastle cannot be drawn against Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur in the last 32, which is played on consecutive Thursdays in February.