Stoke’s Crouch can repay Pulis faith against Maccabi Tel Aviv

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Stoke’s excellent start to their Europa League campaign looks set to continue tonight as they welcome Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Britannia – and it’s European specialist Peter Crouch who can be the central figure.

Stoke and Crouch seemed like a perfect match even before the striker joined from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer and there has been little so far to suggest otherwise.

He has already bagged goals against Manchester United in the league and against Besiktas in the Europe and, with Crouch’s impressive European record, it looks as though there are plenty more to come.

Crouch hit six goals in Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final in 2007 and found the net an impressive four times in nine appearances in the competition for Spurs last season.

It’s that kind of form that prompted Stoke boss Tony Pulis to sign Crouch and the striker is determined to repay that faith.

Speaking to the Independent, Crouch said: “The best football I have ever played in my career has always been with a manager who rates me extremely highly.

“That is not how I am. The manager has done his homework on me. I am happy to work as hard, if not harder, than those who are here already. The manager certainly won’t take anything less.”

Crouch heads into tonight’s game against Maccabi Tel Aviv as 4/1 favourite to get the first goal and – based on his European record – that may be worth backing.

Meanwhile, Stoke are 1/2 to keep their Europa League campaign on track with a win, while the Israeli side are out at 13/2 to get their first group stage win of the season.

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