VIDEO: Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal predicts tactical Newcastle United battle

Carlos Carvalhal

Carlos Carvalhal

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Head coach Carlos Carvalhal will be aiming to outfox Rafael Benitez for the second time this season when sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday host promotion favourites Newcastle United.

When the two sides last met on Boxing Day, the Owls prevailed thanks to a second half header by captain Glenn Loovens.

Carvalhal has predicted a tactical battle of wits between himself and Benitez, who led Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005.

”The games are more strategic when the teams at the highest level play each other,” said Carvalhal.

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“We need to play near our best level. If we don’t, it will be very difficult to achieve points.

Owls skipper Glenn Loovens with Carlos Carvalhal

Owls skipper Glenn Loovens with Carlos Carvalhal

“Before the season, everybody agreed that Newcastle are the number one candidate for promotion.

“When you reach this stage of the season and they are top, they are the best in the division, not just in theory but in practice.

“When you play the team that is first in the table, it’s the most difficult game of the season for sure.

“It’s a big challenge to us, we respect them a lot, they have plenty of quality, quality individuals, a collective quality with a good manager.”

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Benitez insists Newcastle will not take the Owls lightly.

“They are a good team and know what to do,” he said. “Teams with experience in the Championship know what is needed and they know each other really well. They were nearly there last season and, when you have the same structure and the same players, they know what you have to do to get points in this division. It will be tough and difficult, especially now they are in a play-off position. Like a lot of teams they are fighting for their target.”

Meanwhile, Wednesday paid just over £1.1m in agents/intermediary fees between February 2016 and January 2017.

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