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Mission to Moscow holds mystery for Alan Pardew

Updated: Thursday, 07 Mar 2013 17:25 | Comments

Alan Pardew believes Anzhi Makhachkala's artificial pitch will effect the outcome of Newcastle's Europa League clash with the Russian outfit
Alan Pardew believes Anzhi Makhachkala's artificial pitch will effect the outcome of Newcastle's Europa League clash with the Russian outfit

Alan Pardew admits he does not know what to expect as Newcastle's Europa League mission takes them into the unknown in Moscow.

The Magpies will attempt to secure a positive result against last-16 opponents Anzhi Makhachkala on the artificial surface at the Luzhniki Stadium to take back to St James' Park next week.

However, Pardew believes the two games will be completely different, and that the outcome will depend on the big-name players in either squad.

He said: "It's difficult to predict how the game will unfold. There are goalscorers in both teams, of course.

"You are going to have two completely different games, the surfaces are going to determine that.

"To jump from an artificial pitch to a grass pitch on what will probably be a wet, heavy night in Newcastle bearing in mind it's spring almost.

"The complexion of the games, I can't predict, but what I do know is that both teams have fantastic technical ability and they will be tough, tough technical games.

"The big players in the groups - their group and our group - will ultimately decide it."

"The surface and the quality of the opposition are going to make it very difficult for us to get through" - Alan Pardew

Newcastle will be without Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Mathieu Debuchy, Jonas Gutierrez, Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse in Russia through a combination of injury, ineligibility, illness and the need to keep one eye on Sunday's impending Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke.

However, they arrived well prepared having spent three days training on a similar 4G pitch at Druid Park, the home of Gosforth Rugby Football Club and with a detailed dossier on their opponents.

Opposite number Guus Hiddink, whose side emerged from the same group as Liverpool, has former Barcelona and Inter Milan star Samuel Eto'o, Chelsea old boys Lassana Diarra and Yuri Zhirkov and Brazilian star Willian among others at his disposal, but the Magpies have done their homework.

Pardew said: "We have been studying them for three weeks, so we have a good knowledge of their style, of their ability.

"Individually, Zhirkov I know well from his Chelsea days, and also Willian is somebody I know well.

"Diarra, who is the main source in their midfield, is again somebody we know well, so it's not an unfamiliar team to us.

"The fact that they played twice against Liverpool - and two good games - gives us also an insight into them.

"We certainly are the underdogs in this tie. The surface and the quality of the opposition are going to make it very difficult for us to get through."

Pardew was sporting a beard as he conducted his pre-match press conference, and explained his reasons to the amusement of his audience.

He said with a smile: "I have even grown a beard because Russian people are famous for great beards."

Asked if he would keep it if Newcastle won the tie, he replied: "I might do, yes, we will have to see."

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