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Stoke set to embark on European adventure

Thursday 28th July 2011
When I collected my Europa League tickets at the revamped ticket office at the Britannia Stadium, a sense of deja vu struck me.

I had the exact same feeling of disbelief when I purchased my F.A. cup final tickets. This was because I knew that the piece of paper I had in my hand would not only allow me to fulfil a life long dream of attending an F.A. cup final at the National Stadium, Wembley, but it would be to see my beloved Stoke City battle it out for the silverware.

This same feeling is what struck me when I had the ticket in my hand which would allow me to see Stoke City play in Europe. I'd always wanted to see a European game live, but not in my wildest dream would I believe that it would be at the Britannia Stadium.

This feat proves that the club has come a long way in recent years, especially under the leadership of Welsh supreme, Tony Pulis .

Since Pulis first took the reigns in 2002, he kept Stoke in the Championship with a last day victory over Reading and since then hasn't looked back as he has built Stoke into an established Premier League side, led them to an F.A. cup final and qualified for this seasons Europa League.

I hope Pulis can take the next step in his managerial career and help Stoke to become a force to be reckoned with on the European front.

Hajduk Split were the hardest team Stoke could have faced in this qualification tie, and coming off the back of an impressive draw with European champions Barcelona at the weekend, they will be no pushovers for the Potteries based outfit. Stoke's European adventure could be over before it has even started.

A win at home is imperative if Stoke want to continue their European adventure, as travelling to Croatia and getting a result is not going be an easy feat as a hostile crowd will be waiting for Pulis and his players in Split.

Stoke winger Matthew Etherington agrees with this as he told the Staffordshire Sentinel after he watched Hajduk Split's friendly over Barcelona;

"We'll need a win to take back to Croatia.

"Hajduk had plenty of chances, and Barcelona had players like Iniesta and Villa on the pitch, so they are a very good team.

"The atmosphere in Split looked brilliant, and I was glad I watched it because there's no taking Hajduk lightly."

I personally think after a nervy start with some ring rust, Stoke will prevail in this game 3-1. The away goal could cost Stoke dearly though.

Here's hoping it doesn't and that Stoke won't have to wait another 37 years to host a European game.

Probably Stoke first XI:

Begovic

Wilkinson Huth Shawcross (C) Wilson

Pennant Whelan Delap Etherington

Jones Walters
Lloyd Reddin
I'm a Stoke City season holder and try to get to as many away games as I can. I'm currently studying Sports Journalism at Staffs Uni and would love to the move into the industry.

Total articles: 10

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