This Saturday sees the visit of Valencia for the 2007 Thomas Cook Trophy match, City’s final pre-season friendly.
The Spanish side are an exciting proposition, having successfully challenged Real Madrid and Barcelona for domestic supremacy in the last decade as well as becoming major players on the European stage
Valencia have won La Liga twice since the turn of the century, both under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez, with their 2001/02 triumph being their first league title in over 30 years. The 2003/04 championship was coupled with their third UEFA Cup win, their first since 1963.
This 2-0 win over Marseille in Gothenburg underlined Valencia’s reputation in European football. They had reached the Champions League final in 1999/2000 but in an all-Spanish affair they were swept aside 3-0 by Real Madrid. After another impressive qualifying campaign they reached the final again 12 months later and this time were unlucky to lose on penalties after taking an early lead through a Mendieta spot kick.
For many City fans of a certain age, their first memory of Valencia will be when the Spanish side beat Arsenal on penalties to win the European Cup-Winners Cup in 1980. That side featured the brilliant Argentinean striker Mario Kempes, still regarded by many Valencia fans as the greatest player ever to pull on the white shirt.
Other notable names to have called the dramatic Estadio Mestalla home over the years are Rainer Bonhof, Johnny Rep, John Carew, Roberto Ayala and more recently City’s Bernardo Corradi.
Valencia’s managers have included the great Alfredo di Stefano, Guus Hiddink, Claudio Ranieri and current Anfield supremo Rafa Benitez.
‘Los Che’ (‘the Bats’ – so called because of the bat featured on the club crest) are due to quit Estadio Mestalla in 2009 for a new 75,000 capacity stadium, ending their association with a ground that they have called home since 1923.
Now managed by Quique Sánchez Flores, Valencia took part in last weekend’s Emirates Cup, losing 3-0 to PSG on Sunday after beating Inter Milan 2-0 thanks to goals from Jaime Gavilan and the highly-rated David Villa (right).
Tickets for Saturday’s game are priced at £15 for Seasoncard holders, £20 for all other adults and just £5 for concessions. Opening hours for the stadium Box Office have been extended from 8am to 8pm on Thursday and Friday, reopening at 9am on Saturday. Box Office South will also open at midday on Saturday for match ticket sales.
**Despatch of the 2007/08 Seasoncards has been affected by the sporadic industrial action at the Royal Mail, but MCFC can confirm that all cards have been mailed out**