Stoke City v Valencia: Tony Pulis excited by 'great game'

Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis

Tony Pulis believes that Stoke City's Europa League clash with Valencia at the Britannia on Thursday is one of the biggest games in the club's history.

Stoke have lost four Premier League games in a row, but they have lost only one of 10 games in Europe this season.

"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."

City battled past Besiktas, Dynamo Kiev, Hadjuk Split, Thun and Maccabi Tel Aviv to reach the last 32 of the Europa League in their first season back in continental competition since 1974.

And, having only led Stoke back to the top flight in 2008, Pulis is determined to savour two more big matches against the Spanish giants.

"It's not just about the game here," said 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.

"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."

In La Liga, only Real Madrid and Barcelona lie above Valencia, who have produced world-class players like David Silva (Manchester City) and Juan Mata (Chelsea) in recent years. And Pulis is full of praise for the job done by his opposite number, Unai Emery.

"They're a fantastic team," said Pulis.

"Sometimes you watch a game of football and you can't see an identity with the team but he's a young coach and he's got the team very well organised both off the ball and in possession, and they impress you.

"He's had to sell some of his best players and he's put together a very exciting team, they've got some terrific players and it'll be a great game for our supporters."