Good headers by Joelinton to salvage a goal weren't enough to score past Dortmund, as they were quickly stopped by Gregor Kobel. In the Dortmund attack, Sabitzer, Brandt, and Adeyemi ran rings around Newcastle’s Defence, creating numerous chances and restraining the magpies in their own half. Newcastle’s hopes to snag a victory for a chance at climbing the table were cut short by Fullkrug and Brandt, both netting past Nick Pope to secure 3 points and springboarding Dortmund to the top of Group F.
The Magpies, now with 5 points, have only two crucial games remaining: an away match against PSG, and a home fixture against AC Milan. Nothing the Magpies have faced recently has been ever so vital than these next two fixtures for Champions League survival. It’s officially make or break for Newcastle and its Champions League hopes.
The question that arises is, how has it come to this?
The answer is simple. We have to look at the squad itself. Newcastle’s squad situation at the moment could be summed up in just 3 words: An injury minefield.
Key defensive players like Dan Burn and Sven Botman, who previously were the anchor for the Newcastle defence against PSG in their miraculous 4-1 victory; are out until at least mid-December. The midfield magicians Bruno Guimares and Sandro Tonali are both suspended from action, as Bruno is out for 5 bookings and Tonali for his infamous betting scandal, which resulted in a 10-month ban and is not expected to return to the squad until at least September next year.
The attacking options that were once a powerful force don’t seem to be in a lighter end of the tunnel. Both key strikers Alexander Isak and Calumn Wilson are out on injury and aren’t expected back until early January. Meaning, nearly 60% of all key players Newcastle have been either suspended or injured. The match with Dortmund showed the dire situation in practicality, as Tino Livramento: a right-back, was played out of his position and was forced to play as a winger, in the face of scarcity for the position. This brings to light the dire situation of Newcastle’s injury crisis.
As Newcastle have started to run out of options, this undoubtedly raises questions about the Magpies' chances of securing a place in the knockout stage; Is it possible?
In some aspects, the Magpies still have a strong chance of making it through. Group F at the moment, originally dubbed “the group of death” is very much living up to its name. All teams are just points away from each other, and it’s anyone’s game. Dortmund at the moment sit Top of the table, with 7 points, and Newcastle, just two points behind at 5. A two-point difference from top to bottom means group F is anyone’s for the taking. If they compose themselves and remain highly motivated, Newcastle could pull it off and see themselves in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years. A monumental target that is very much still in the books.
Will Newcastle manage to make a success story, or will they fall through?