One pre-season tour is obviously not enough for Newcastle United. No sooner had the Toon Army finished a successful trip to Germany and Austria than the squad were heading off for what can only be described as a whistlestop visit to Portugal.
And if fitness is the name of the game at this stage of the summer, then the Newcastle players are going to be put through their paces good and proper during their short stint in Iberia.
Newcastle will play two matches in as many days and there are bound to be a few aches and pains in the muscles of the players as manager Alan Pardew works his squad with a both a domestic and European campaign nearing ever closer.
No player is going to feature in all 180 minutes, of course, and while it will be interesting to see how Pardew shuffles his pack (it is unlikely players will be asked to play an entire 90 minutes at this moment in pre-season), the Toon squad are no doubt in for an intense few days in the sunshine.
The Magpies should be fresher than their opponents, who will no doubt rotate their team but will probably feel the effects of games in consecutive days late on in the match.
The first match of their short trip is against Olympiakos (the Magpies then face Braga exactly 24 hours later) and Newcastle are priced up as the even money favourites with bwin to win the match, with the Greeks at 23/10 and the draw chalked up at 9/4.
Newcastle registered a win, a draw and a loss while in Germany and Austria, with Pardew unhappy with his team for conceding a 90th-minute goal in their last outing, a 1-1 draw with Turkish side Fenerbahce.
The former West Ham boss was eager to point out that with a tilt at the Europa League on the horizon, it was the sort of test they can expect to face and to that end, Olympiakos is another fixture that replicates Newcastle’s return to European competition.
As champions of Greece for the second successive season, Olympiakos will be heading for the Champions League and with a squad that provides the nucleus of the Greek national team, Leonardo Jardim’s men will offer a stern test for Newcastle, although perhaps not as much of a test as they could have been.
That’s because Olympiakos are in the same situation as Newcastle, in that they are playing two games in two days, but the meeting with the Toon is the second of their Portuguese trip, with the Greeks having drawn 1-1 with Braga last night.
Without knowing exactly what Jardim will do, it must logically put them at a disadvantage and it is for this reason that Newcastle have to be the shout at evens, as the Magpies should be fresher than their opponents, who will no doubt rotate their team but will probably feel the effects of games in consecutive days late on in the match.
There are a few variables to consider for this one and looking out for team news is imperative, but the even money, with stakes kept on the low side, is the play.
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