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Champions League: Newcastle's 20-year journey back to Europe's top table

When Newcastle lost to Partizan Belgrade in the third qualifying round of the Champions League in June 2003, the Magpies fans would not have thought it would be another 20 years until they returned to Europe's top table.

Having beaten the likes of Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen during the 2002/03 campaign, Newcastle would have believed that they could be Champions League regulars.

Since then, they have endured relegation and Championship football, but are now back in Europe's premium club competition and are looking forward to some mouth-watering ties.

What2023/24 Champions League - Group F
WhereEngland, France, Italy, Germany
WhenTuesday, 19th September to Wednesday, 13th December
How to watchTNT Sports 1
Odds (Group Betting)PSG 11/10, Newcastle 9/4, AC Milan 5/1, Borussia Dortmund 11/2

Howe looks to follow Sir Bobby

The last time Newcastle made the Champions League, the legendary Sir Bobby Robson was in charge and now another Englishman is looking to follow in his footsteps.

Eddie Howe did a brilliant job securing a top-four finish for the Toon last season and now the Magpies face the ultimate test against some of the biggest names in Europe.

In 2002/03, Newcastle were drawn to face Juventus, Feyenoord and Dynamo Kiev in the group stage and finished second.

At that time, the competition had a different format with teams going into a second group stage – with the Magpies facing Barcelona, Inter Milan and Bayer Leverkusen.

Robson’s squad, which included the likes of Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, Shola Ameobi and Nolberto Solano, beat Leverkusen home and away.

But a 2-0 home defeat in the final match against Barcelona, who are 14/1 to win this season’s Champions League, ended their hopes of making the knockout stages.

Big test for Toon squad

The Newcastle fans will love the prospect of facing some of Europe’s heavyweights at a packed St James’ Park, but the draw could have been much kinder to the Premier League club.

The Magpies start their Group F campaign with a trip to the iconic San Siro, when they face an AC Milan side who were thumped by city rivals Inter, 5-1, at the weekend.

Despite that defeat, Milan are still third in Serie A and the seven-time European Cup winners are 6/5 to qualify from the group – with Newcastle currently 4/5.

French giants Paris Saint-Germain are the 11/10 favourites to win Group F, as Luis Enrique looks to lead the Ligue 1 giants to their first Champions League title.

Kylian Mbappe is likely to provide the biggest threat to a Newcastle backline that has conceded seven goals in their opening five Premier League games.

The French superstar has already bagged seven goals in five league fixtures this term and is 4/1 to be the Champions League’s top goalscorer this season – with Newcastle’s Callum Wilson available at 80/1.

The fourth team making up the group are Borussia Dortmund, who are preparing for an eighth consecutive season in Europe’s top club competition.

Dortmund made it to the last 16 last season, before losing on aggregate to Chelsea, but the summer exit of Jude Bellingham is likely to have a big impact on their qualification hopes.

Edin Terzic’s men have made a solid start to the Bundesliga season, with two wins and two draws in their opening four matches.

Former West Ham striker Sebastien Haller is leading the line for BVB, while ex-Liverpool midfielder Emre Can has been appointed captain.

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