Match Preview: Flair or Flare?
Stadion Poljud, Split, Croatia
Thursday, 4 August
After 37 years without European football, Stoke and Jonathan Walters only needed two minutes to put the Potters in prime position against the visiting Croatians. Sadly, it proved to be the only goal scored during the first leg at the Britannia Stadium which leaves everything hanging in the balance for tonight`s match.
Stoke travelled for the return leg on Wednesday morning, with assistant boss Dave Kemp confident that his team will be able to handle a potentially hostile atmosphere in front of an expected 32,000 supporters.
Stoke will only need one more two-legged aggregate victory to guarantee a spot in the group stages, assuming we finish the job tonight.
"It is something a few of the lads will have seen before so it is not something we are worried about
"The only things we are concerned with are making sure that we do everything we can to finish the job. and then making sure our fans get home safely." - Dave Kemp
Hajduk Split Team News:
Supporters have ransacked the local fireworks store and stocked up on bigger and better flares, ready for the intimidation factor. Sunglasses are also at the ready as the flames will apparently be BIG. Ok, I made that up, but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest, so just watch out if you're out there. As for team news... can anybody read hrvatski jezik (Croatian)?
Player to watch: Somebody
Not really any of the players stood out as a clear threat in all honesty. It's hard to say who to keep an eye, so just watch somebody in different colours and you'll be fine.
Stoke City Team News:
Matthew Etherington suffered a rib injury during the first leg victory at the Britannia Stadium, so he and Pulis will be hoping he'll be fit enough to feature on the left flank.
Meanwhile, fellow winger Jermaine Pennant has been struggling with a thigh strain, but should recover in time to start.
Defender Jonathan Woodgate played 45 minutes in the friendly against Sheffield Wednesday, and is likely to be on the bench.
Striker Ricardo Fuller is still out with the buggered Achilles tendon.
Player to watch: Rory Delap
Rory's rockets caused some havoc in the defensive areas of the visiting Croatian side which split their solidarity up as they scrambled around in the box. Now they've had a taste of his throwing ability, they'll keep an eye on him and prepare for him, especially as he has a lovely big run up.
HAJDUK SPLIT: Oremus, Vejic, Maloca, Lima, Tomasov, Inoha, Brkljaca, Andric, Sharbini, Vukusic.
STOKE CITY: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Pennant, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Jones, Walters.
Foreign. That's all we know currently.
Hajduk Split 0-0 Stoke City It'll be a tough one, however I think Stoke can grind it out. I'd like to think that we could finish the job, but they'll want to intimidate us (with flares mainly) and claw back a goal.
Draw not made