Swansea will enjoy themselves at the Mestalla - says de Guzman
JONATHAN de Guzman is relishing his return to Valencia despite a painful last experience at the Mestalla.
Swansea City head to Spain for the start of their Europa League group campaign tonight, with de Guzman pushing for a start after beginning on the bench in Monday's draw against Liverpool.
The Dutch international is one of a clutch of Michael Laudrup's squad who have previously sampled the famous La Liga venue.
Three years ago, de Guzman was part of a Real Mallorca team that won 2-1 away to Valencia.
But the 26-year-old's second visit was not so successful.
In his final match before joining Swansea on loan last season, de Guzman featured for a Villarreal side that lost in the last minute at the same ground.
That defeat capped a miserable 2011-2012 campaign that ended with Villarreal being relegated from Spain's top flight.
Despite that unpleasant last outing, de Guzman is excited about his return to Valencia's famous home.
"It's a great stadium, a big one. I remember playing there with Majorca and Villareal," said the midfielder.
"There was a great atmosphere so I'm really looking forward to it. It's a footballing stadium and the pitch is great.
"I think we will enjoy it there. I played there twice, I won once and then lost the other time in the last minute. It's going to be an interesting game."
Valencia have serious European pedigree.
Pablo Hernandez has turned out for the side in both Europa and Champions League matches in recent seasons.
But a thigh injury will deny the winger a return to his former club.
For Swansea, the match represents a step into the unknown.
After wining preliminary matches against Malmo and Petrolul Ploiesti, the club enter the group stages of European competition for the first time in their history.
"I think it's going to be a very good game for us. Valencia have a good squad and can play good football," said de Guzman.
"We've proved that we are a team who can compete in the Europa League.
"We showed that in the last two rounds, we did pretty well.
"I think we can put up a god fight against a strong Valencia side and then when you look at the group we have I think we could do very well, especially at home.
"The away games will be difficult, but it is another experience for us to learn from. With the squad and the experienced players we have I think we will do very well."
The likes of Michel Vorm, Hernandez, Wayne Routledge, Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Bony have all sampled continental competition before.
Valencia will be favourites to top a Group A that also includes Russian side Kuban Krasnodar and St Gallen of Switzerland, but Swansea are tipped to finish second.
That would be enough to reach the tournament knock-out stages.
Helder Postiga is among the players Valencia recruited during a summer in which star man Roberto Soldado was sold to Spurs for £26 million.
After finishing fifth last season, manager Miroslav Djukic has endured a difficult start to the new campaign, losing three of the opening four La Liga games.
Valencia are fourth from bottom in the table, with reports of player unrest inside the camp.
"They are different from last season," said de Guzman.
"They kept a couple of players in midfield who are very creative and they have Postiga up-front now.
"Obviously he scorers goals and Valencia are a team which likes to attack, but I think there will be a lot of space for us too.
"They want to hold the ball and attack so I think it will be an open game." After coming on in an unfamiliar wide role at half-time against Liverpool on Monday, de Guzman is in the running to start as a central midfielder tonight.
Following that introduction, Swansea equalised in the second period three days ago, Michu stabbing home Jonjo Shelvey's follow-up to claim a point.
Shelvey had earlier given Swansea the lead before Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses hit back.
"It's a confidence boost. Liverpool have a good squad and they play good football," added de Guzman.
"I thought we did very well to get the point. We had good chances at the end, but they were looking for the counter-attack.
"It could have gone either way. In the end we are happy with the point.
"We started very well with the quick goal. the team bounced back in the second-half after being down 2-1. We did pretty well and the equaliser was deserved.
"Playing wide was different, but I'm just trying to help the team as much as possible.
"I'm giving it my best in the training sessions and the games. I'm trying to make selection as difficult for the manager as possible.
"Every player wants to play. I'm one of those who always wants to play. With the squad we have and the number of games we have I have no worries about getting some games."