The English League Cup final takes centre stage this weekend, as Bradford take on Swansea at Wembley Stadium.
League Cup Final Predictions
Bradford (8.00) v Swansea (1.36); Draw (4.50)
Bradford became the first side from the fourth tier of English football to reach a League Cup final in over 50 years, after narrowly beating Aston Villa in the semi-finals.
The Bantams road to Wembley has been particularly impressive for a League Two side, with Premier League sides Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa all falling at the wayside.
Manager Phil Parkinson has used set-plays against higher opposition extensively during Bradford’s League Cup campaign and all of the Bantams goals against Arsenal and Aston Villa came either from set-pieces directly or from the resulting follow up.
Rory McArdle has been a key weapon for Parkinson in attacking the penalty box area from dead-ball situations and the odds on the defender scoring within 90 minutes are one of many long shots in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final.
Manager Phil Parkinson is however sweating on the fitness of McArdle, who only returned to training earlier in the week following an ankle injury.
Bradford Probable XI
Duke, Darby, McHugh, McArdle, Good, Hines, Doyle, Jones, Atkinson, Wells, Hanson
Bradford’s winning formula in this year’s competition has been about keeping games tight and of the Bantams seven games in the League Cup, four have gone on to extra time. Incidentally Bradford have won their last nine penalty shoot-outs and lifting the League Cup in similar fashion can be backed at 19.00 on the betting markets.
Opponents Swansea are looking to win their first ever major trophy and the Premier League side are the overwhelming favourites to win the cup on Sunday.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup has confirmed that back-up goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel will start the match, but central defender Chico Flores has been ruled out. Kyle Bartley is likely to get the nod to partner captain Ashley Williams, although Garry Monk is also available.
Swansea Probable XI
Tremmel, Rangel, Bartley, Williams, Davies, Britton, Guzman, Dyer, Routledge, Hernandez, Michu
Swansea’s form since booking their place in the final has been disappointing, winning only two of their last eight matches in all competitions, but the Swans did manage to overcome both Liverpool and Chelsea (over two legs) on the road to Wembley
The expansive pitch at Wembley will suit Laudrup’s game and Michu will once again be the Swans main threat, but the deep-lying midfield partnership of Leon Britton and Jonathan de Guzman could prove crucial if Swansea are to exert their quality on the ball.
No top-flight side has ever lost a cup final against a lower-league side in the Premier League era and the Swans should comfortably secure their first ever major trophy at Wembley.
Swansea -1.5 Asian Handicap @2.05
Swansea to lead at half time @1.72
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/swans100/