Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Alan Green: Valencia could be frozen out at Stoke

None of the five remaining English clubs in European competition can feel entirely confident of progress after the draws made in Nyon on Friday.

To say the least, their ‘lot’ could have been a good deal easier. But it might surprise you to hear that the tie that drew most attention from me was Stoke v Valencia.

I can’t tell you the number of times parochial pundits say — I’ve been ‘guilty’ myself — “Yes, X are a wonderful side but I wonder if they’d fancy it at the Britannia Stadium on a wild winter’s night!”

For those of you who may not know, by the way, ‘winter’ in Stoke, particularly at that weather-exposed arena, equates to anytime outside of June, July and August.

Valencia were ‘relegated’ to the Europa League from Chelsea’s Champions League group but they’re no mugs. They stand third in La Liga behind only Real Madrid and Barcelona. Question is: will they ‘fancy’ it in the Potteries? Roll on February.

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