Newcastle United’s Under 23s will start their road to redemption for defeat in the 2018 Premier League International Cup Semi-Final with a home tie against Liga NOS heavyweight Benfica, it has been confirmed.
The Magpies academy have not taken to the tournament since suffering defeat to eventual winners Porto in 2018, having beaten Sunderland during the last eight stage and facing Liverpool, PSV Eindhoven and Sparta Prague in the Group Stage.
Blackburn Rovers will serve as our British competition in the first round of the tournament as they make their debut in the cup this year, with each of the six four-team groups boasting two Premier League 2 sides and two international clubs that are invited by the Premier League to participate.
Along with Blackburn and Benfica, Hertha Berlin make up the remaining slot in our group this year, with the Bundesliga outfit scheduled to face United on December 11 at Whitley Park in Benton.
The tie comes between visits of Benfica (November 22) and Rovers (December 20) to the North East, with each Group Stage fixture scheduled for a 19:00 kick-off.
While this year’s tournament is Blackburn Rovers’ first foray into the Premier League International Cup, Hertha and Benfica have both competed before.
Die Alte Dame’s junior ranks were eliminated from last year’s competition in the Group Stage after losing to Villarreal and Liverpool but beating Swansea City 4-1, while Benfica finished bottom of Group D behind would-be champions Bayern Munich, along with Brighton & Hove Albion and Everton.
The Magpies junior ranks will be hoping for a better end result than in 2018 and in Monday’s Premier League 2 opener at Hogwood Park, where Reading ran out 6-0 victors over our ten-man Under 23s following Owen Bailey’s red card.