Stoke City v Valencia: Pulis excited by prospect of ‘historic’ game
Tony Pulis has described Stoke City's tie with Valencia at the Britannia as one of the biggest games in the club's history
Tony Pulis could not hide his excitement ahead of Stoke City’s historic game against Valencia in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie at the Britannia Stadium on Thursday.
Stoke finished in second place in their Europa League group ahead of Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv to qualify for the knock-out stages.
“I’m excited,” said Pulis. “It’s one of the great games this football club has had in its history. We haven’t had too many occasions when you can say we’re playing a top European team at the Britannia.
“The games we’ve had at our place on the Thursday nights, the atmosphere has been fantastic. And what we’ve done so far, you can double that on Thursday night, because they will know we’re up against it, and they’re at their best when we’re the underdogs.
“It’s a big game, but the end result is the most important thing.
“We have to go out there and not be overawed by anything, just play the way we can play and, if we can get our forwards playing well, then I think we’ll cause them a lot of problems, I really do.”
Valencia, playing their 100th game in Uefa Cup and Europa League, finished third behind Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen in their Champions League group, losing 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in their final game.
The Spanish side are without a win in their last six games on their travels – three draws and three defeats – since a 4-0 triumph at Bursaspor in September 2010.
Stoke are yet to be beaten in at home in Europe this season – but Pulis is already looking forward to the return leg next week at the Mestalla.
“It’s not just about the game here,” added Pulis. “There’s a lot of supporters who can’t wait to go out for the game in Spain as well and experience the atmosphere out there, which is supposed to be absolutely fantastic. It’s just fantastic for the city.”
Pre-match facts: Stoke City v Valencia
• A 3-1 loss at Besiktas in the final group game ended Stoke’s 11-game unbeaten European run, which stretched back to a 4-0 defeat at Kaiserslautern in September 1972.
• Valencia lifted the Uefa Cup in 2004, beating Marseille 2-0 in the final in Gothenburg.
• Valencia are unbeaten in five Europa League games since a 1-0 loss at Club Brugge in the first leg of the 2009-10 round of 32.
• Peter Crouch is yet to score in five games against Spanish opponents. However, he struck twice last time he faced Valencia midfielder Mehmet Topal, in a 3-2 win for Liverpool against Galatasaray at Anfield in the 2006-07 Champions League group stage, where Stoke’s Jermaine Pennant also lined up for the Reds.