Preview: Valencia v Swans

19th September 2013

The Swans kick off their Europa League group stage campaign on Thursday when they face Valencia at the Mestalla (6pm UK time).

Michael Laudrup's side are in Group A alongside Thursday's opponents, Russian side Kuban Krasnodar and Swiss outfit St Gallen.

However, they face a stern test against La Liga side Valencia in the historic Mestalla stadium - a ground that has seen a lot of great European nights in recent times.

Valencia famously reached the final of the Champions League in both 2000 and 2001 - losing to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively.

Since then the club has won the La Liga title twice (2002 and 2004), as well as winning the Europa League (formerly known as the UEFA Cup) under the guidance of Rafa Benitez in 2004.

Valencia are currently 16th in their domestic league, and suffered a 3-1 defeat on Sunday at the hands of Real Betis.

They have former Tottenham striker Helder Postiga in their ranks, as well as Oriol Romeu on loan from Chelsea.

The Swans will be without former Valencia man Pablo Hernandez for Thursday's game, with the winger suffering from a hamstring problem.

However, record signing Wilfried Bony is fit after recovering from the rib injury he sustained in Monday's draw against Liverpool.

Nearly 11 years ago to the day, Swansea suffered a 1-0 defeat against Boston in the bottom tier of English football - and they now prepare to face Valencia in the Europa League.

And boss Michael Laudrup has called on his players to make the home fans suffer in the Mestalla.

"All of the pressure is on Valencia," he said. "They have not had a good start to the season and they have a tough game against Sevilla coming up at the weekend.

"Their crowd are not like our fans - it's like the theatre over there. They come in to the stadium, sit down and, if the team play well, they applaud. But if the team do not play well, they boo.

"Valencia have been one of the top clubs in Spain for a number of years and the fans will feel they are nearly the same as Real Madrid or Barcelona - they are used to playing in the Champions League.

"But now they play Swansea in the Europa League, so there is a lot of pressure on them. We have to try to take advantage of that."